Sunshine and paddle building – just like PB and J

bounced light reveals all – what’s gorgeous and what needs a redo or at least some sanding……

Hi paddlers – Jeff Bach here. I’ll be in the shop all weekend doing what I love best – working with hands and wood, coaxing out the beauty each piece holds. And of course – there are practical matters involved along the way, like what the final finish should be and how to prevent those super irritating drips off the underside of the blade. As in life, building a paddle has all sorts of little tricks that make the project easier.

I’m happy to talk through a paddle kit and what you may or may not want to include and what options you may already have on a shelf in the garage. Like mineral oil and a bit of beeswax. The final finish for a paddle, at least the shaft and handle, can be a simple rubbed in coat of mineral oil. I still hugely recommend epoxy for the blade and a tip guard to seal the end grains along the bottom of the blade.

happy trails and I hope they are wet! Jeff Bach owner, quietwater paddles.

Redwood and water go great together

curly reflections courtesy of redwood and H2O

A few years back, I got lucky and snapped up a piece of salvaged redwood joist that just happened to be curly redwood. Beautiful stuff. It’s also light and strong, especially when wrapped in the loving embrace of four ounce plain weave fiberglass cloth and my preferred MAS brand epoxy. Good stuff all the way around.

I went with walnut accent pieces along the shaft strip. A tip guard made from West Marine GFlex is protecting the bottom of the blade and sealing up the end grain as well. Sand and watere courtesy of a……lake. I can’t remember where I took this picture. Most likely Lake Wazeecha, up in Wood County, central Wisco.

Anyway, wood paddles are well within reach of an aspiring DIY’er. A quietwater kit simply puts all the pieces together for you, so you don’t have to start your project sourcing the materials and then cutting the wood. A kit comes with everything you need to build TWO paddles.

Or I can build one for you.

A one of a kind custom, with no epoxy stuck to your fingers and in your clothes.

Either way, a paddle is a means to an end. That end being the pleasure of a day spent paddling water somewhere. wherever you are…….Enjoy it!

Corporate out Design in

Knots and nail holes, courtesy of a bookmatched table saw cut

As my old corporate life recedes into the dim recess of time, an ongoing growth of ‘new stuff’ is blasting the old cranium. Maybe more like shaking the rust off….

Anyway, as I have likely written elsewhere on either the site or this blog, the amazing strength of fiberglass and epoxy is what allows for a wood paddle to do what it does. I should also acknowledge the waterproofing that fiberglass and epoxy does. For me, and hopefully you the builder as well, this means that I am free to use ‘non-traditional’ wood for the paddle blades. The picture above illustrates that notion. This is reclaimed barn board, at least a hundred years old, in addition to the age of the tree that gave up the lumber. The matching pair of blackish holes is from a nail. The iron of the nail oxidized (aka rusted) and stained the wood around it. At first I thought it was a bullet, but no – the wood is from a sensible midwest farm barn not a romantic western robber’s roost shack.

And the knot stands alone.

This has to be my favorite example of ‘design’ in nature, if you can call it that. The randomness of the lines, the color, and the shape is nearly impossible to match even with something as good as Photoshop. I love it! There’s just no way to manufacture something like this. Truly one of a kind, and best of all – accessible. Even affordable. Note the walnut accent strip on either side of the shaft strip, usually those strips are purpleheart, but not in this paddle. Also note the simple blunt and rounded off style end relief of the shaft strips. Also, one of a kind, something that no mass built paddle can ever replicate.

Building your own paddle using ‘found’ wood is well within the DIY paddle builder’s grasp. If you have a notion to think outside the box, I urge you to do so. The pleasure and ‘feel good’ parts of sourcing your own material and then building your own paddle is hard to beat!

I will happily resaw your paddle blade wood, AT NO CHARGE, if you have a piece you want to use and lack the table saw. Just send me your piece and I will send it back to you cut into quarter inch thick pieces as part of your kit.

OR, you can look through the range of ‘non-traditional’ blade blanks I have on the quietwater paddles website and pick some of your own.

As always, enjoy your paddling! Of course, you just might enjoy it more if you are using a paddle you built yourself!

July 4th means Lake Wazeecha


We have only a few simple traditions. Site 34 at South Wood County Park is one of them. The July 4th weekend found us camped out at that site again, for about the fifteenth time now. This spot overlooks Lake Wazeecha and is a ten second walk to the shore. The campground is heavily used and the lake is long, narrow and still fairly small. It’s also full of motor boats, but it is a sweet place, full of happy memories. So we went there for the hot steamy July 4th weekend and it did not disappoint!

Canoecopia 2019

Canoecopia-SeminarWhile Rutabaga Nancy has retired, that does not mean that Canoecopia has gone by the wayside. Nancy’s replacement, Amelia, seems like a great replacement, although she remains in the ‘mysterious’ category, as I have not met her yet. Her trial by fire grows daily, I’m sure, as Canoecopia 2019 approaches.

Rutabaga is the host/owner of Canoecopia. Rutabaga is one of the few full time paddlesports shops in the country that remains open year round, tempting paddlers every day to come in and look at the various gizmos as well as boats that fill the store. A great place. Owned and capably run by the ‘one of a kind’ Darren Bush.

And from that springs Canoecopia, an annual event that kicks off the start of the paddling season each year. Darren and his staff have carefully cultivated and nurtured this show, and the result has been a stellar production, a well run show offering a perfect oasis for paddlers tired of frozen water and ready for something warmer and easier to paddle than snow.

I’ll be up in the Atrium on Saturday from 1-3 (I think) talking about wood paddles and how to make them. Stop by and visit!

Sunny Day. Simple Water. Leisure.

picture of a paddle going down the Yahara river

A beautiful day on the Yahara. Local water, middle child, and some sunshine are all that’s needed.

Finally. An afternoon to get out on the water. Not so much an escape to someplace, as much as simply enjoying what’s around us. Big vacations happen sometimes. Little afternoon paddles trips like this happen quite a bit. Although with my daughters away at their summer jobs, not so much this year as in others. But they came home for a few weeks and away we went one afternoon.

I love paddling like this. The wind blew us around. The ducks paddled around us and we drifted silently quite a bit listening for the water talk. It only whispered this time around, but that was enough.

This little stretch of the Yahara above the newly redone Dyreson bridge is historic water, although you’d never know it, much like so most of flyover country. There’s a sweet little put-in at this bridge and directly out from it are the remants of an old pioneer log bridge. If memory serves, I’m thinking pre-Civil war – late 1850s? It amazes me that these little old pointy logs still survive after so long in the water. Just up from those remnants are some large stones in the water. They look like stones should look in water. Some of them though, are doing double duty. Those hard working stones are the remnants of a Native American fish weir, approaching 12000 years old (again if memory serves me correctly).

This little stretch of beautiful quiet flyover river speaks volumes about years gone by and people long gone, but you have to be still and listen to that water talk. So when your chance comes along, enjoy a simple float on local water and soak up all those that have gone before you.

Making Paddle Handles

There’s nothing like a good handle, at least for me. I think comfort when paddling starts with how your hand feels when gripping the handle. Ergonomics is the official word for this, but it’s really about comfort.

Quietwater paddles are all wood. They’re kits that you put together yourself. No cutting required. Not even electricity is needed, unless you really want to get that sander out (note: the pieces arrive fairly smooth so don’t sand too much).

Two pre-made handles come with each kit. If you’re wondering – yes each kit has enough materials for two complete paddles. There are a couple different styles of handle. The picture above is a batch of new handles I’ve been working on. This style adds a piece of redwood to the front of the handle. Redwood is hard to find these days. I was fortunate to come across some redwood and salvage it.