Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interesting Epoxy Laminated Paddles

I came across a page on the MAS Epoxy site documenting the work of Doug Roberts from West Virginia who uses the adhesive in making his many laminated paddle designs. The writeup mentions his use of various woods including butternut, white cedar, spalded beech, curly maple, and cherry. Also interesting is that he used epoxy with food dyes for an interesting colouring effect. I like the inlaid look of his paddle tips as well as the pattern of the checkerboard paddle. Might be a great addition to a back-country trip where a relaxing game of chess or checkers could be played after a hard day of paddling

Shots of Doug Robert's creative laminated paddles

Epoxy is tough on blades and handtools but it is more gap-filling than the polyurethane glues I've used on my paddles. I might consider making more paddles like these with all the accumulating wood scraps in the future.


Bryan Sarauer said...

Hi Murat,
With all do respect to the builder of those paddles, I don't I don't care for them much. They are very interesting in that they show what can be done with lamination and decoration. However, they have no elegance in their shape; they look somehow awkward to my eye. The pyrography on the blade also appears unrefined, probably similar to my own efforts.

These paddles are in stark contrast to your own creations which to my eye are very elegant and the pyrography is exceptional.

I'm not really a traditionalist (my everyday paddle is a bent-shaft, my whitewater paddle is fiberglass), so it's not that I'm afraid of an unconventional or modern shape.

Another example of paddles that don't appeal to me are those created by S Creek: http://www.screekpaddleco.com/. In this case, the pyrography is excellent, but the blades and shafts are all very square. The corners have been rounded off of the shaft, but they remain essentially square. I've seen his paddles up close a number of times and they just don't look right to me.

Thankfully, not everyone agrees with me otherwise there wouldn't be such diversity to choose from.


Murat said...

Yeah, I agree on the blade shape. Sort of awkward looking...more like a baker's paddle for removing pizza from an oven. But when you make your own, you're free to try any shape that apeals to yourself.

I've never been able to get used to bent-shaft paddles, so I haven't leaned in that direction with my work. I also find that wide square blades tend to tire me out too quickly. But it does seem that large, square blades and bent shafts seem to be all the rage these days.

Interesting about your observation of S Creek paddles. I'm a big fan of the pyrography work, but was always curious about the repetitive blade shape. It might simply be a matter that this design allows for the most "canvas space" to do the artwork. The double bent shafts look very ergonomic though.

I've been researching the net for paddle pics of other native & exotic origin. There is in fact a huge amount of diversity in the shape of the basic paddle design and I hope to post on these soon.


Bryan Sarauer said...

I think you're right about the shape of the blade as canvas. However, if I'm not mistaken (and I could be), that's the basic shape used in his paddle courses for producing paddles that people intend to actually paddle with.

I don't see the benefit of the double blend. I think it's more of a "it looks cool" thing, than an actual ergonomic benefit. Keep in mind I've never tried them on the water, so my impressions are quite speculative. I tend to think if there really was a true benefit to the double bend, we'd see it used more frequently, especially among distance paddlers. I can't quite figure how the ergonomic shaft would help in any real way (blade angle in the water, wrist angle on the shaft?). Perhaps I should e-mail or call Doug so he can explain it to me.

Regarding large square blades & bent shafts, most bent-shaft paddles actually have smallish blades (the S Creek paddles excepted). The blades of a nice Zavral marathon racing paddle would be fairly small with a surface area that you would not find unusual (the angle on the other hand...). My whitewater paddle is in contrast to this - it's large blade is designed to catch a large amount of water in order to have a strong brace or move that boat around in the rapidly moving water. I can stop my canoe surprisingly quickly with that blade. However, I don't use it on the flats and will keep my other paddles close at hand in order for a quick switch of tool to match the conditions.

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