Saturday, March 6, 2010

Copper Blade Tip Protectors

A while back, a query posted on the WCHA Paddlemaking Forums led to a discussion about the use of metal blade tip protectors on old paddles. These pieces of thin copper or brass would be formed into a pattern, folded over the tip of the paddle, and then tacked or stapled into place. Graham Warren's original paddlemaking book, Making Canoe Paddles in Wood contains such a pattern and mentions making the tip by recycling a piece of "central heating pipe".

Two experienced posters displayed pics of their unwanted tips, some brass one from Rollin Thurlow and a copper one from Ross Bros Canoe Company

Brass Tip

Copper Tip

An online copy of Popular Mechanics (July, 1934) has a an article entitled, "It's Easy to Repair a Canoe". The pic on page 109 shows a metal tip pattern with instructions to nail it onto the front of the blade and clinch the nails on the back to prevent splitting.

Metal Tip Repair

The general consensus on the WCHA forums was that such paddle tip protectors actually cause more damage as the nail or staple holes permit water penetration and eventually lead to rot. For some paddle makers, the old-time aesthetic appeal is a desirable addition.

The beautiful paddles crafted by Doug Ingram at Red River Canoe recreate this appearance with modern materials. A post from his blog, Wood Be Creative shows the process of routing out the blade tip and filling in the tip with coloured epoxy set in a mold. This gets sanded down to the final appearance.

While I've got no intention of damaging the tips of my paddles with nails or staple guns, I'm intending to add a woodburned, pyrographic image of this tip design onto the Northwoods style paddle I'm working on. We'll see how it turns out.


Bob Easton said...

Dang, those sure are pretty!

Yet, I'm with you in not wanting to nail or staple things to my paddles.

Thanks for mentioning the thoughtful alternatives.

BADGER® Paddles said...

Very interesting.... I could see some of our customers liking the look of the tip protectors... but only as a wall hanger! Can't see the benefits of nailing or stapling either. LOVE YOUR PADDLES (and blog too)!

anonymoose said...

what about chemical welding -- aka -- epoxy as an attachment system...

photographeratlarge said...

As you probably know, the Inuit would put bone tips on the blades of their Greenland kayak paddles. I have made a few out of cedar and put plastic tips made from HDPE. I melt down #2 plastic bottle caps and bottles and press itoit the notched tips. It really protects it well. I'm still refining the look but I'm happy with the results.

Murat said...

Great idea to re-use some nuisance plastic into a functional part of the paddle! Might be able to come up with funky colours too.

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page