Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Walnut Solo Kingfisher - Refurbish

Given that 99% of my paddling is done solo, I wanted to try customizing a perfect solo blade. I've read amazing things about Ray Kettlewell's Paddles and was particular drawn to his Quill design. Given that I prefer a shorter shaft, I needed to offset this with a slighly heavier grip area to maintain balance of the blade. For that reason, I tried a new grip style for me, the so-called Mushroom Head grip. I also decided I'd use up another piece of walnut given the enjoyment I got from the Passamaqoddy Northwoods paddle made weeks before.

I was even more eager because I had signed up for the MEC Paddlfest back in September of '07. All my paddles were now up at the cottage, so with 7 days until the event that included paddling tutorials by Becky Mason on Classic Solo Style, I wanted to have my own special paddle to try out for the event. So the work began in earnest with minimal time for taking pics. I did manage to get a shot with all the shavings and the completed work.

Not wanting to give up using this canvas, I set out to quickly burn some artwork. The delicate nature of the blade reminded me a hummingbird, so I decided to burn some images of these. I ended up rushing the pyrography job in order to get done before the minimum 24 hours varnishing time need to seal the paddle before use. It wasn't my best work, so I never ended up taking pictures of it.

Off to the event I went on a very chilly fall Saturday. I stuck around for a bit but after some frustration with cancelled workshops, I left the event without even dipping my paddle in the water. The following week, I tried it out at the cottage (with better weather) and thoroughly enjoyed it...my favourite paddle shape + grip combo so far. The paddle then went back into the locker room for a few months. By the time December arrived, I decided the artwork was too amateurish for the blade and decided it was time for an extreme makeover...paddlemaking style.

Using some Circa 1850 varnish remover, I thoroughly scraped away the spar varnish on the blade and then used a Random Orbital Sander I had acquired on sale (at Loblaws no less) with 220grit sanding disk to delicately remove the pyrography. Given that I had rushed with the original art job, the burnings were quite superficial. All this while Toronto experienced its first snowfall. Despite the cooler temps, my Arctic experience and the SW exposed balcony made it comfortable to work in T-Shirt

Instead of repeating the Hummingbird pattern, I instead decided to burn a Kingfisher, a common bird in cottage country. In particular, I recall seeing one resting on a broken larch tree branch overlooking a narrow lake edge. It allowed me to get pretty close before flickering off with their characteristic song, like a teacup rattling on a saucer. The long, narrow shape seemed suited to try a perspective piece, so I tried to re-create that lakeside image.

Burning the image on the dining room table...the blue background is an old beach towel to protect the furniture.

Close up of the Kingfisher and larch branch

Whole paddle

I'll have to wait until spring and wamer temperature before I can varnish safely on the well-ventilated balcony, but overall, I'm quite content with this makeover. I've already re-used this technique to refurbish another commercial paddle I bought 2 years ago (and never liked after using it on a trip)...more on that later.

April 17/08 Update: The blade has now been varnished and completed. You can check out the results HERE


Anonymous said...

I must say, your walnut kingfisher is quite possibly my favorite paddle on your site in addition to that I am extremely impressed by all of your artwork, in fact you have inspired me to burn a small loon into the throat of the powerface of my paddle.

Anyways, I was wondering if perhaps you could please post some close ups of the grip of the kingfisher? From best I can tell it is the type of grip I have in mind and I would like to imitate the design of it, if you don't mind of course. As to your request to see my finished product I will be more than happy to send ya some pictures of it. You can already see the work in progress by clicking my user name.
Take it easy,

Murat said...

Thanks Phil!

Send me an email and let me know your address. That way I can reply with some zoomed pics of the grip. When I made this paddle I was in a rush so didn't take too many photos but I'll send you whatever I have.

By the way, a similar grip (with some pics to show the undercutting with a round rasp) is the one on the adirondack owl. Apart from the slight modification in the flat palm area, it is essentially a mushroom grip.

Looking forward to following your adventures on the Mighty Miss!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pics and the plans. I tried to reply by email, but for some reason my emails keep getting returned so I am guessing you did not get my response. Anyways, I am glad you think my paddle is sweet, it feels sweet too. I tried wood burning for the first time and I am pleased with the image that came out you can see pictures of it on my blog if you would like. I will be taking your advice and using varnish instead of oil, daily application could get rather pricey. I think that I will indeed try laminating my next paddle, I know everything has to line up perfectly for it to be strong so it will be a welcome challenge. I may try and add some very small pegs for insurance.
Thanks again

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