Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cherry Passamaquoddy Guide - Part 1

Another Cherry paddle is in the works. This blank had been cut out the same time I had started the c.1849 Passamaquoddy replica (the paddle in the header of the site) and included the same blade shape. My intention was to make a set of matching paddles to go with the decorated canvas canoe. I had actually began working on the blade of this paddle first, but the reversing grain kept causing significant tearout and frustration with the spokeshave so I ended up leaving this blade incomplete and worked on the other one which had a superior grain pattern.

For this paddle, I had wanted to replicate the long, spined grip design of the Robin Egg Blue antique paddle posted on previously:

Maine Guide Paddle.
Circa 1910

However, after being cut out and the blade partially worked down, the paddle was left in the garage for many months and as a result, the blank revealed a significant twist resulting in misalignment between the grip and blade. In retrospect, I should've hung this blank but simply ran out of room on the rack. It was still completely salvageable, but the grip needed to be recarved to take out the twist and this necessitated redrawing of the center and other guidelines.

Twist in the blank; Redrawn grip top

All went well, and the while clamped to a picnic table near the communal fire pit, I worked down the grip and finished off the paddle over a weekend. Here are some shots during the process and a pic of the paddle after its first wetting in the lake to raise the grain.

Carving the spined grip; Frontal View (still needed some work)

Wetting the paddle to raise the grain

I was eager to take out this paddle for spin, as well as try out the Reshaped Birch Cree paddle. Both paddled very well, but I could see the thinned, lightweight Cree design being more suited to just light paddling use. The cherry paddle with its smooth, Maine Guide style grip was a real delight to use. I could see myself using this robust paddle for extended tripping given its comfortable design and balance.

Quick test on the water

UPDATE - JUNE 24: Paddle is now complete...see Part 2


Benjamin said...

Just curious what the purpose of wetting the wood to raise the grain is. Does that help it absorb the finish better or something?

Murat said...

Hi Benjamin. Wetting the wood, allowing the wood fibers to rise, and then sanding gives you a much smoother finish; otherwise the roughened surface can cause blistering for something with heavy hand use like a paddle. Some folks do multiple wet dry cycles until the grain stops raising and sand between, but for cherry, I've found that a single wetting and sanding is sufficient to give the whole thing a smooth surface.

Anonymous said...

If you want the ultimate in "smooth" burnish the wood with some sort of cloth. Burlap and flannel work well. Barring having any of those materials you can go to lowes or some other hardware/bigbox store and in the sandpaper and finishing isle you should find white sanding pads around the scotchbrite products that are just amazing. Now these white pads have no sanding qualities like the maroon scotchbrite pads so with fast and high pressure sanding like action you will end up with a smooth, shiny and burnished surface. Combine this with the raising of the grain procedure and you are going to experience the ultimate in buttery smoothness.

Murat said...

Anonymous - Thanks for the burnishing tips! Have some scrap burlap that I've been wondering what to do with. I'll also try the white sanding pads you mentioned.

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page