Interview by”Humans of the River Region”

Interview by Pat Aitkens

Maxie Wood Crafts and His Custom Wood Walking Canes

So what does a man do who has always earned a living from working with his hands and by the sweat of his brow but is now on disability? A man that has worked hard in the steel fabrication industry but because of that same hard work has undergone seven back surgeries, the first one back in 1979 and the last one in 2013. He now has twenty eight  screws, two plates and a couple of bars in his back…so much steel in fact that it is ironic since moving heavy steel was the cause of his predicament in the first place.

“A man that now can no longer lift anything over five pounds and has to walk with the assistance of a cane”. 

Meet Larry Maxie , a man I first saw in church several months ago with the most unusual cane I had ever seen. Being curious (and also a musician) I just had to sit down with this interesting artist and get the story of a man that got up off the mat and would not let life get the better of him. Here is that conversation…

I have to know…why a guitar walking cane?

“Before my last surgery in 2013 I knew that I would have to use a cane afterwards but I wanted something unique and special. So during a mission trip to Uganda I had purchased a very unusual tribal cane and brought it back home. One day while running errands with my wife I was sitting in the car listening to music with my cane in my hands. During one song I happened to look down and I was holding my cane like a guitar. The more I looked at it in my hands like that, a thought kept running through my head…why couldn’t I make a guitar cane?”

Maxie Tiger Paw GuitarSo what is involved in making these unique walking canes?

Each one takes anywhere from 14 to 16 hours to build. The neck and head are made of mahogany, the body is made of cedar and the end of the cane that comes in contact with the ground is poplar. The body is cut out with a scroll saw, the edges are rounded off on a table router, and the top and bottom run through a wood planer. There are 2 metal screw dowels that join the body to the neck and the neck to the head. The neck is turned on a lathe,to get the top and bottom of the neck flat. I run it through a wood planer. The frets are made of fourteen  gauge electrical wire, the mother of pearl inlay are clear push pins, I also use jewels between the frets, the tuning keys are shelf pegs and the control knobs are wire nuts.I also included a strap because a guitar has to have a strap.

This comes in handy so that when your cane is not in use you don’t have to lay it down but rather just let it hang there like a guitar would. All my designs are fashioned after Fender or a Gibson Les Paul with custom paint jobs and three  coats of polyurethane for extra protection. Each cane is signed and numbered. I have made 32 so far.”

It sounds like you have made the most of a difficult situation. How has that been possible?

“The Lord blessed me with the talent to be able to do this and the response I receive from my creations is a blessing in itself. I has found a way that I can be happy doing what I am doing as a hobby and being able to make a little money at the same time. I am constantly tweaking my designs  are something different that no else has.” 

So what is next…a playable guitar cane?

“Hmmm….(with a twinkle in his eyes).”

For further information on these unique hand crafted walking canes, you can contact me here.

(Photo by Patrick Aitken – Wetumpka AL)

What people are saying about Larry:

Jeff Whitlock, “Larry is my stepfather and one of the greatest men I have ever known in my life! He has a variety of skills and talents but his greatest asset is his heart! Filled with the Spirit and full of compassion. Proud to have been blessed with you in my life! Great interview!”

Tony Ray Jones, “I have known Larry all my life we grew up together in Mobile AL he is a great guy and has a talent for detail. Check out his work on ebay I will be buying some of his work for my new studio coming here in Nashville Tn.”

Humans of the River Region, “I don’t usually try to promote a local business but this is such a wonderful “feel good” story about a man overcoming the odds and getting a second chance that it just had to be told. He is a fine example of a HOTRR in my book.”

Gail Dancy, “Beautiful Larry! Good to see you putting your God given talent to work in such a unique way. I might be purchasing one soon. Keep up the good work and God Bless you and yours.”