Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bruce Smith - Exquisite Paddle Maker

Swung by the Great Outdoors & DIY Show this past weekend at the Toronto International Centre. For a reasonable door fee, one was granted access to 4 shows under one roof (The Fall Cottage Life Show, Canadian Handyman Show, Outdoor Canada and Explore Show).

A few canoe related exhibitors were there including:
• Swift with their display of quality Badger Canoe Paddles (now including a complementary paddle sock)
Muskoka Paddle Shack with their futuristic Carbon fibre ottertail paddle
• The Canadian Canoe Museum had a booth with a paddlemaking demo and a quaint c1950's, 12ft Bastien Brothers Trapper Canoe

However, the most appealing booth in my biased opinion was the wonderful exhibit featuring the gorgeous paddle creations of Bruce Smith. The visitor was greeted with a wall to wall display of hanging paddles made from a wide array of hardwoods with unique grain patterns. A real eye pleaser was a paddle made from wormy walnut with a fusion blend of creamy and dark colours swirling around the blade. I was kicking myself for not bringing the camera!

Mike Ormsby of Reflections on the Outdoors Naturally blog was helping at the booth and was kind enough to introduce me to Bruce as a fellow paddle maker. With Bruce's permission here are some shots of some of his work from his website, including his trademark grip with a secondary position.

Cherry Ottertail; Bruce's Unique Grip

Sweet looking Walnut paddle

Collection on display

We discussed some ideas about certain woods with Bruce sharing his experience of creating a paddle made from a harvested Tamarack log. Always wondered about this tough wood as a spruce substitute. Here are some photos of Bruce’s booth at show (courtesy of Mike Ormsby)

Also on display was Mike's gorgeous wood canvas canoe built in Bruce's shop. A real stunner complete with cherry gunwales and delicately carved thwarts. What really caught my attention though were the wide, but thin ribs very reminiscient of the Chesnut Ogilvy described on Mike Elliot's Kettle River Canoe Blog. A very hearty construction that also seems easier on the knees that than thicker, widely spaced ribs on my boat. Photos by Mike Ormsby...

According to Mike O's blog, Bruce plans to hold some paddle making workshops sometime in May for the extremely reasonable cost of $100 - a real bargain in my opinion and a perfect opportunity for a novice to learn the craft from a skilled woodworker. More info by contacting Bruce directly.


Mike said...

Great write-up on Bruce....thanks Murat

Anonymous said...

I just bought one of his paddles at an art festival...beautiful.

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page