Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cracked and Used Power Tools

Last week I finally cracked under the pressure of handsawing my paddles and realized that this part of the process was no longer fun. I had proven to myself that I could make a paddle with nothing but hand-tools from dressed lumber stock, but now I wanted a better alternative to continue this addictive hobby. Some sites mention using a jigsaw to cut out the pattern, but after borrowing one, its screechingly loud noise would make it impractical to work discretely in the condo. So thus began in earnest an attempt to source out access to a bandsaw in order to cut out the remaining blanks I had been planing. Posting on Kijiji & Craigslist was a one was willing to grant access to their bandsaw (even for a fee). Woodworking shops in local colleges and community centres wouldn't allow access either unless I enrolled in their programs.

Thankfully, I came across a link in another forum mentioning a "Do It Yourself" shop out in Oshawa, The Carpenter's Square. This DIY rates were very reasonable ($16.50 / hr with a 1 hr minimum) and after an inital phone contact, I realized it would be worth the 40km drive to get the job done.

At this point, I had 4 paddle blanks ready to be sawn out. Two were one piece paddles (Yellow Poplar Diamond Passamaquoddy & Soft Maple Northwoods) and two were laminated (Maple Poplar Adirondack Guide Paddle & Maple Walnut white water with a Battenkill grip). So I strapped all of the boards together and set off to the shop.

The place was very well maintained with all the tools one needs for serious woodworking. This was my first time using a bandsaw and after a brief orientation of the tool, I was on my way to cutting out the blanks. The 14" bandsaw worked well, although it was set with a 3/8" blade which limited the amount of curve it could cut. Changing the blade was not an option, but by sawing slowly (15 minutes per blank) I was able to get the general shapes. In a few places where the curve was more severe, I needed to backtrack and recut, which led to a couple of jagged slices that made the paddles look uneven in places. I'm confident I can clean these errors up however, because handsawing the blanks also causes some uneven sections and this hasn't affected the final product so far. I'll be blogging about each of these in more detail when I get around to them. For now they're hanging in the locker room for a few weeks to take out any potential warping.

left to right:
Maple-Walnut white water, Maple-Poplar Adirondack Guide, Soft Maple Northwoods, Poplar Diamond Passamaquoddy

So after one hour in the shop, I was done in what would have taken me many more by hand. I was averaging about 2-3 hours on and off hand sawing each blank on the balcony. I'll definitely be returning when it's time for more blanks. Below is a clickable map and their contact information if you're interested.

The Carpenter's Square
804 Ritson Road South
Oshawa, Ontario
L1H 5L4
Phone: (905) 433-9011

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