Red and beautiful

Even on a gray misty day, redwood can still light up the room. The world of wood has grown larger with the ability to find even the most exotic of wood with the tap of a finger. Happily, far flung lumberyards have also evolved and now will ship just about anything anywhere, which is good if you live in a humble midwestern state like I do.

So here in the above pics is my latest entry in the world of paddles. It is redwood, in just about the most beautiful shade possible. Subtle textures and wandering lines of grain embellish the wood and make the color even better. At least to me.

Big fun for both mind and body. My eye loves seeing the red emerge under the addition of epoxy. My hands relish the feel of the wood taking shape under spokeshave, rasp, knives, and sandpaper. Truly – it’s all good.

As always, I can build a custom paddle to your specs, or I can send you the pieces as a kit and you can build your own.

Life is good. Summer is mostly here, the water’s fine and so is the wood!

Paddle Blade – tape, trim, and level

Three things at once in the above image:

1.) I trimmed the plain weave, four ounce fiberglass cloth as closely as I could to the edge of the blade. This is important because if too much cloth is left overhanging the edge, the epoxy ‘flows’ out along this fiber and hardens. This adds enough weight and stiffness at just the right time and in exactly the wrong spot, resulting in the cloth ‘lifting’ off the blade. Think of a seesaw, where the blade edge is the fulcrum in the middle, and the outboard fiber and its cargo of epoxy is bending down, just like the heavier kid on the seesaw. If this occurs and goes unfixed, the result is a ‘white line’ along the blade edge where these long fibers were allowed. The white line is air that is now trapped under the cloth in the space that was made as the cloth lifted up of the surface. TRIM any excess cloth. Make the edge of the cloth fit the blade as best your scissors and steady hand will allow.

2.) Blue tape along the UNDERSIDE of the blade serves as the surface on which any drips will harden. When all is done you just pull the tape off, taking with it all the hardened stalagmites (or is it stalagtites?) that formed as that drip fell off the edge. Without tape the drip still happens, but it bonds with the wood and is much harder to cleanly remove.

3.) Use a small level to check that the blade is level in all directions. A dipping blade makes it easy for the epoxy to flow downhill resulting in a thicker layer on that lower side and a thinner layer on the higher side. This can also make it easier for dripping off that low edge, resulting in those undesired stalagmites on the underside.

Anything is fixable, but why make your project more difficult? A few minutes of prep time can make your project less stressful, especially that first paddle upon which so much is ‘learned’. You can make that learning have a good outcome, or you can make it more frustrating…….

P.S. I like doing the power face first as seen in the pic above, the cloth is simpler to work with, as you do not need to cut the slot for the shaft. Also a simple vise to hold the paddle shaft makes for an easier epoxy experience. Tune in next time for an easy way to cut that backside slot out.