Saturday, February 23, 2008

Maple Sparrow Solo

Given my happiness with the Walnut Solo Kingfisher blade made back in September of '07, I wanted to make another. I scored a fantastic figured maple board (11ft) that I had cut into halves. The width of the board (4.5 inches) was perfect for this solo paddle design. For the grip, I wanted to try a different style...a circular spoon grip. Marking out, sawing the blank, and dressing the blade went by without a hitch. By now, my routine for setting up blanks is pretty quick.

Winter was in the air, so working on the balcony became steadily impractical. So I resorted to using my newly constructed shaving horse set up in the condo locker room for the bulk of the shaving. A drop sheet and quick sweeping contains all the shavings. Given that this was maple (quite dense and heavy), the blade was purposely thinned less than 3/8th inch (the common thickness for blades).

The spoon grip was kind of my own experiment. Circular grips are documented in Adney's Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America, particular with Eastern Cree paddles (a design I intend to carve after I get more lumber stock). Apparently this circular shape allows for multiple grip positions without really changing your hold...sounded good for solo style paddling with underwater recovery strokes. Rather that have a complete circular shape, I opted for more of a teardrop shape with the intentions of scooping out the palm region with a spooning knife. The initial carving out looks really rough and ragged but with enough effort (and a whole load of sanding) I was quite happy with the results.

For the artwork, I chose an image of a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) - a rather drab looking, brown spotted bird that has a melodic buzzing song. It looks like most sparrows but can be differentiate with a noticeable large brown spot on its breast. The narrow blade width of the paddle was quite suited to this smaller image and given that I intented to make this my main solo blade, I wanted to minimize burning on the whole blade in case I weakened the already thinned out maple blade.

Sparrow image sketched onto blade

Sparrow closeup

Spoon grip with native Sparrow image

Whole paddle posing with winter sunshine


Bryan Sarauer said...

Wow, that's such a beautiful paddle. Fantastic job on the sparrow and the maple looks great.

As you mention, maple is dense & heavy but strong so can be made thin. What was the final weight of this paddle? How does it compare to some of the other paddles you've built in terms of weight? How about flexibility? (It should flex nicely I expect.)


Murat said...

Hi Bryan. Thanks for the compliments! Always great when a fellow paddler appreciates your work. I haven't weighed the paddle yet (spring scale at the cottage) so don't have exact numbers, but it's fairly light...just from feeling it's about the same as the walnut version even though it's thinner. Also about the same as the Turtle Paddle stylus in cherry. Once I head back up during the March Break, I'll get the scale and weigh all my work thus far and post some details.

Bryan Sarauer said...

Thanks Murat. General feel is really good enough for me, especially when you have a commercially built paddle to compare it to. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see the empirical results of a scale when comparing a variety of paddles so I'll keep my eye out for that post.

Anonymous said...

Great site it has been a wonderful reference for me in choosing a design for a paddle. I am thinking about carving a classic ottertail solo design with a mushroom grip, I will be using yellow birch as my wood. I am certain I will be referring back to this site as my project starts to take shape.
Thanks for all the information,

Murat said...

Thanks Phil. Glad to be of help. It was the frustating lack of info on different paddle types that got me interested in starting this blog.

I'd love to see your finished work when its done.

Happy paddling,

Unknown said...

Hi Murat, This website is such a help !! I was just looking at paddles when I came across this site, It then inspired me to make my own canoe paddle, since then about 1 month ago I have got hold of a large plank of cheery wood and have just ordered my Pyrogrophy kit as well as my spoke shave,The plank is just large enough to make two paddles, a Beaver Tail and Ur fusion paddle with the same design, Hope you don't mind,the Beaver tail is going to be decorated with native American Indian pictures.
Thanks for all the info.

Murat said...

Hi James. Glad that my little site has inspired you to carve your own paddles! I think you'll find the beavertail to be more useful as a functional paddle, but the Fusion design is definitely an eye-catcher. If you didn't see it already, I got the historical Maori pattern from an image of 3 paddles in Captain Cook's diary. It took a long time to burn, but cherry wood is stunning to work with.

Have fun and send some pics of my way.

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