Friday, September 19, 2008

Carving a mini Bushcraft Paddle

Ever since I saw a Ray Mears Bushcraft Episode (Canoe Journey on the Missinaibi River) where he carved a bushcraft style paddle from some fallen cedar with an axe and crooked knife, I've wanted to try it out. Before expending the energy to source out a full-sized log and hacking away vigorously, I thought I'd try my hand at a mini version for my yet-to-be-born baby boy. In reality, I've just needed a healthy distraction while the clock nervously ticks down to the delivery date.

I found an appropriate piece of recently cut cedar in the adjacent hotel property's scrub pile (where I had salvaged stakes for the canoe build earlier) and proceeded to split it. Even though one side of the log was branch free, the split revealed some knots within. Obviously not the best piece for a working paddle, but this whole thing was a fun experiement anyway. Using my axe, I started to chop away and end up with a rough paddle shape.

Chopping out a mini paddle from a split log

The paddle blank would need to be finely taken down with my mini crooked knife blade - a perfect tool for this bushcraft style carving. Much to my delight while working by the shoreline, a mommy duck with her ducklings hopped onto the shore by feet and kept me company. At first, they took the many wood shavings for food but quickly realized they were inedible and just hung out by my feet

Working with the crooked knife

Duckling company

As much as I tried however, my crooked knife technique left many indents and gouges so the paddle wasn't very smooth. Back in the city, I sanded it down and was left with a mini ottertail with my favourite Maliseet style grip.

The final mini bushcraft paddle

I haven't decorated it yet, but am thinking about burning some ducklings onto the blade and tell the little one about how this paddle came to be when he's old enough to understand.

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