Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sassafras Tripping Paddle

Multiple canoe related projects have been a distraction from actual paddle making over the last year. A few summers back I obtained a batch of Sassafras stock from fellow paddle maker Craig Johnson. From one of these premium boards, a blank was cut out...

A new paddle in the works

After converting my cherry guide paddle into an heirloom gift from my 2nd son, I've had plans to replicate the original design to serve as a user.  This paddle shape with its elongated blade and long tapering grip is one of my favourites for tripping. It is similar in shape to the working paddlings used by the two Maliseet Guides in  W.C. Gaynor 's "Diary of a Canoe Trip" (see this previous post).

Photo Source: "Diary of a Canoe Trip" by W.C. Gaynor
 Rod and Gun in Canada, Sept 1910 Vol. 12 No.4 p491 

Over a few days during a wicked heat wave in the city, the paddle was worked down to have a slight spine on the handle and upper portion of the blade. I leave the shaft area until the end so the shaving horse has a square surface for better clamping.

Here's another shot with the paddle shaft worked down and wetted for a bit of colour contrast and to raise the grain.

Ready for a quick sand

One deviation from the original cherry paddle is that the shaft diameter has been reduced down to a 1" circular diameter. Most readings and tutorials for hardwood paddles mention 1 -1/8" diameter as being ideal although a 1" shaft diameter is not unusual, especially for strong flexible woods. The classic plans appearing in the Rick Waters' article "The North Woods Paddle" (Wooden Boat Magazine - Issue #67, November/December 1985) mentions having a 1" thick shaft with these ash paddles.

As for decoration, the preliminary plan is to fully burn the grip using the shou-sugi-ban technique learned from Luke McNair and David Gendron (post here). The blade will be decorated based on the second side on the painted c1849 Penobscot recently on display at the Peabody Museum.

October 2016 Update: Paddle has been decorated and is now complete. Read part 2 of the post here.


David said...

Murat, that is a sweet looking paddle! I really like that blade shape. What are the dimensions? Blade length and width, total length and width of the grip?
really nice work!

Murat said...

Thanks David! The blade shape is from that c1849 Penobscot paddle linked in the post - one of my all time favourites. I adjusted a bit to fit my needs. Overall paddle length is 58", blade length = 28", max blade width = 6" and the grip at the top is 3" wide. Getting my torch ready for burning hopefully this weekend if the boys give me some time.

David said...

Great!! I will need to try one of these shape!! Good luck with the finishing part!!

Unknown said...

I was just looking for a Winter time project ! I have some Ash drying that will work ! Thanks for the inspiration ! said...

Is there a book or any posting to describe the type of wood burning that you do on your paddles. I’d like to start making my paddles look more interesting, also where can I find patterns.

Murat said...

Dennis - all my posts regarding woodburning can be read by clicking the keyword "Pyrography" from the list on the right hand margin. I just use a regular woodburning tool obtained from an art store. The brand is called Walnut Hollow. The double curve patterns are from existing paddle decorations in museums. As far as books, do a search for books by "Sue Walters". She has a great instructional book along with additional publication of wildlife patterns. Good luck said...

I’m looking for paddle patterns, especially ones with long flat handles. If anyone can point me in the right direction give me a shout. Thanks

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