Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fixing an old failure - scarfing a grip onto a sassafras northwoods - Part 1

Here's an update on an old paddle failure. Back in 2012, I was working on my first sassafras paddle made from a thick 8/4 board, the only size I could source at the time. The inspiration for the paddle was a specimen in the Hudson Museum in Maine featuring a graceful, segmented grip

Hudson Museum Paddles
(Photo Credit: Bob Holtzman)

My blank had been crudely cut out with a wonky bandsaw, but the bulk of the work was going to be removing the stock with an axe and crooked knife.

The segmented grip was being worked down with a crooked knife and rasp...

Everything was going well when I had the urge to check the flex. The thinned out lower grip snapped at the base!

I was quite disappointed at this point and didn't want the paddle remnants to go to waste, so in the end both pieces were kept in the hopes of re-purposing them somehow. The grip was stored inside since it felt quite comfortable and I wanted to keep it as a future template. After mulling around for ideas to re-use the blade, it was, in the end, just relegated to a garden ornament...a kind of  paddle tombstone for a failed project.

However, earlier this summer there was an informative post on paddle repairs over on CanotRouge (aka David G) uploaded a series of photos of a repair on his wife's favourite paddle. It had also snapped at the base of the grip and he set about repairing it with a scarf joint in a professional manner. It has apparently held up well so this was very encouraging in my own case.

Anyway, the paddle blade was yanked out of the garden where it has weathered into a antique grey patina but came out without any sign of rot. The grip was pulled out of indoor storage and the two setup on the garden shed to represent what could've been...

With a scrap piece of sassafras cut from more recent projects, a plan was hatched to try a scarf repair like David's.

Using a mitre saw, I cut the steepest angle I could manage. Here is a shot of the scarf joint clamped up...

The glue-up went well and it seems to be very strong. A new grip will be sketched out and reshaped soon.

DECEMBER 2016 Update: New grip has been shaped out. See post # 2 in series HERE.


David said...

Good on you!! Can't wait to se the final product!! Karine's paddle is still holding well after many 10 day trips!!

Murat said...

That's really great to know Karine's paddle is still holding up. Thanks for posting your repair and helping bring back my paddle from the grave!

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