Cutting and straightening sticks
We cut sticks in the winter months while the trees are dormant. There's less water in them at this time and the bark has shrunk down to be tight against the wood underneath. If you cut sticks while the trees are growing then the bark has more tendency to wrinkle while drying - that's fine if you are removing the bark anyway but in Britain most of our sticks are used "bark-on" and the bark needs to be set tight with the underlying wood.
This is my kit for cutting sticks:
Here are some Hazel sticks that I cut in February. I bundle them in tens and use packing-case tape to tie them together.
After a year of drying under cover they are ready to be straightened. Heat is applied using an electric paint-stripper or a steam tube. We use the steamer when we're doing a lot of sticks at one time.
After heating we use our "Stick Press" to press out each bend and leave the sticks straight.
Once straightened the sticks are fastened together tightly in bundles of seven using strong rubber bands.
Why seven? Because they fit together neatly and help keep each other straight while they cool.
Here's a day's work: