Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Birch York Sunbury Replica finally done after years of procrastinating

Back in 2012 I started on making a Yellow Birch replica of the circa 1878 Maliseet Paddle from the York Sunbury Museum (See posts here, here, and here). ...

c1878 York Sunbury Maliseet Paddle

Without a bandsaw in the city, a board of 6/4 Yellow Birch stock was hewn with an axe to get a rough outline. My experience with with Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) has been mixed as the wood is known to reverse grain frequently and is susceptible to much tearing of the wood fibres. Fortunately, this board was manageable and a rough blank was worked on .

The backyard workshop in early spring, 2012

My axe skills on kiln-dried wood are less than perfect so in the end, I struggled quite a bit with the symmetry, especially on the grip area. The area above the carved drip-ring ended up being more narrow than the original...

Not really happy with the results and frustrated with the carving, I let this paddle sit around. It eventually found use as a racoon deterrent for the creatures taking up residence on our upper deck.

In the meantime, the York Sunbury Museum has since changed its name to the Frederiction Regional Museum and better resolution pics were graciously supplied by a museum visitor. So this year the paddle was re-evaluated and the symmetry worked on some more. The blade was narrowed and the grip touched up to the best it was going to be. It was tested out with other designs on a quick daytrip and functions surprisingly well even though the original was commissioned as a tourist carving. The pointed tip makes the entry quite silent

Birch Maliseet on the left

Over the last few weeks I've been burning the blade and grip using a narrow writing nib at high heat to mimic the original, complex pattern. Here are the photos before oiling...

After a few coats of oil, the thirsty wood has taken on a much more golden colour and the paddle finally complete. That took a long while!

c1878 Maliseet Replica

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