Monday, October 11, 2010

Bushcraft Paddle Attempt: Take 2

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadian visitors. Had some time today to upload some more paddlemaking pics from this summer. After my pitiful attempt at a bushcraft paddle back in 2009, I decided to take another try at making a paddle with just an axe and crooked knife. This time around, rather than harvest the wood from a downed tree, I ended up using a left over scrap from splitting the 2x10 spruce board for the canoe pole project.

Split spruce chunk

This piece of spruce had a nice, straight grain for the shaft area (if I avoided the conspicuous knot) and at 5" wide was perfect to try another design. I wanted to try a straight sided Eastern Cree paddle like the kind I posted on here and are illustrated below:

Fresh spruce paddles hung to limit warpage

This style of paddle also feature prominantly in the NFB film, Cree Hunters of the Mistassini and I've posted a screenshot of Sam Blacksmith using such a paddle on a previous post. Apart from the obvious green paint, this one has a distinct spine to add some rigidity to the narrow blade design.

Sam Blacksmith paddling his paddle

Once the blade shape was roughly hewned with the axe, a series of cuts were made in the shaft area with my homemade bucksaw. More axe work and the shaft region was taking shape which was later cleaned up with the crooked knife.

Saw cuts in shaft area; shaft roughly hewn out

After a while, my little one came over with his toy dump truck and started collecting shavings to transport down to the beach, dumping each load in the sand and then returning for more. This continued every few minutes for about 2 hours. Definitely distracting, but it kept him quiet and occupied him at least.

Collecting shavings dump truck game

By the next day, I had progressed to working down the blade and was beginning to shape the handle.

Crooked knife work; Starting to take shape

At this stage, I had started carving a simple roll style grip, but later changed my mind to form a more roundish, flat style which seems to be more consistent with these Eastern Cree Designs in the Canadian Museum of Civilization collection.

Blade Closeup; Grip Photo

I've read of craftsmen using the crooked knife with such skill as to carve a paddle perfectly smooth, leaving no tool marks and requiring no sanding. It'll be a while before my skills progress to that level, but I'm still happy with the relative smooth results I got with this spruce attempt. Still some tool marks on the blade and the shaft isn't perfect, but overall it's a functional paddle that was made lazily over a weekend, and could probably be done in a rush in a few hours of concentrated work.

A weekend's project

Don't think I'll be burning decorations on this one as spruce doesn't take pyrography very well. Maybe I'll dabble in a painted decoration over the winter.

July 23, 2011: UPDATE - Paddle has been decorated. See the final post here


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