Usually it is purpleheart, because I like how purple matches up with the many varied shades of color found in cedar. Sometimes though, change is called for.
I decided to try another ‘exotic’. Padauk hails from the next continent over. The more learned amongst my three readers will probably recognize it as Pterocarpus soyauxii. It’s in the orange color category and ages into a very nice dark red, which reminds me of rosewood. As with purpleheart, simple exposure to oxygen and UV light works on the surface of the wood and does all sorts of magic with the end result being a ‘new’ color relative to what you started with.
One thing that does not change is the knots. Really it is one knot, which I sliced in half and laid open in book matching style. I always think of butterfly wings first, before pages in a book, but they both work to describe mirror images, or lateral symmetry as the learned amongst us are no doubt thinking.
Barnboard remains one of my favorite wood ‘types’. A big reason for that is the forever mystery of just what the wood actually is. I just accept it as ‘pine’, but have no way of determining which species, or it could be hemlock, which was fairly common in the midwest back in the day. I’ll never be certain and that’s OK, because I really like the wood, whatever it is.
While the work flow and process I use to build paddles has matured into a fairly stable ‘style’, for lack of a better word, the part that is ever changing is the sourcing of the wood. Each piece is unique and offers a new color, grain pattern, and even smell. For the record, when first cut padauk is intensely sweet, almost overpowering.
While it is snowing as I write this, spring grows closer every day. Open water nears. Get out and enjoy your paddling! And I hope you are doing it with one of your own hand built paddles!