Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Soft Maple Northwoods with Rippled Grip - Part 2

Slowly but surely, the Maple Northwoods paddle is coming along. Given that the maple is so dense and heavy, the blade needed to be thinned considerably to reduce the weight. Many of the paddles are reduced to 3/8" thickness (3/32" edges) for flex but this one was shaved down to 3/16ths and paper thin edges to reduce weight.

Nearly Complete

The grip still needs some additional shaping and serious sanding to even out irregularities and tool marks, but overall it feels quite comfortable. The top is just nice enough to fit my broad palm and the ribbed grip sections are just the perfect width for my hands for using the northwoods stroke. Noticed afterward that the grain of the grip section seemed to curve right at the location of the rippled bumps, only to straighten again in the flat sections between - sort of like a neat contour line effect on a topo map.

Grip nearly complete

Despite not fully completing the grip, I got impatient and eagerly began decorating the blade. I first wanted to add a pyrographic version of the old copper tip protectors mentioned in a previous post. Around the blade remaining blade circumference, a basic chip carving motif was added. In the center of the blade, I ended up replicating another scroll pattern taken from Frank G. Speck's Double-Curve Motive in Northeastern Algonkian Art. Given that the this paddle design seems to have evolved from Abenaki / Penobscot origins, it seemed appropriate to use some Penobscot designs from Figure 4 of Speck's publication.

Penobscot Scroll Pattern

Pencil sketched decoration

Now I just need to find some time to do the actual woodburning. The dark pattern should contrast nicely with the pale maple wood.

UPDATE - April 19/2010 - Decoration finished - Part 3 has posted here


Scott Schuldt said...

Looks great. I've been making spruce paddles and just made two in cherry. It sure does takes some getting used to to shave the hardwood thin enough.

Michael Weiser said...

Heya Murat,

I've just completed a Stern and a Bow Northwoods Paddle myself. They're also one-pieces and made from Maple. Since i wanted lots of flex, I thinned them to 5mm and 6mm which should be somewhere in the 3/16th inch area.

I oiled them. Due to the flat-sawn grain the blade tips are bending in all kinds of directions when wet. I'm now trying to varnish just the tip of one (kinda like one of those brass tip protectors) and soaking the other in oil to see if that makes 'em more resistant and stable.

I'd love to hear how yours behaves.
Are you going to varnish it?
Can you post some close up pics on how the grain runs?

Murat said...

This is my first paddle shaved so thin. The wood stock was flat sawn as well and the tip is already starting to warp with the modest wetting I've done to raise the grain for sanding. Haven't been able to actually use it as there is still ice on our cottage lake.

I can definitely see it being a high maintenance issue if the tip is exlusively oiled. Michael, I like your idea of varnishing just the tip. It'll likely be better protected and add a nice bit of shiny gloss over the burned image of the "copper tip" I'm planning.

As for closeups of the grain, I've posted some extra pics for you:

Hope that helps. By the way, I'd love to see your paddles (Scott, you too) so feel send pics. Here's my email.

Bob Holtzman said...

On my Indigenous Boats blog, a recent post included photos of several paddles at the Hudson Museum of anthropology in Orono, Maine, including one of a Wabanaki paddle with a rippled grip quite similar to the one you're working on (http://indigenousboats.blogspot.com/2010/03/hudson-museum-2-paddles.html).

Murat said...

Many thanks for your inside peak at the museum paddles Bob! I'll be preparing a post referencing your photos soon

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