Archive for the ‘hand work’ Category

Making a Paddle – Twice Warmed

January 18, 2018
Bent shaft cedar SUP paddles

I grew up in a house heated with wood. Usually, in the summer, my brother and I spent beaucoup time out at the wood pile, sweating away, cutting long logs into short sticks and then splitting those sticks and THEN stacking those split pieces. I don’t recall too many late nights during my teenage summers, we were too tired from the advance planning for wood heat. Whenever we did this ‘wood working’, it was the ‘first-warmed’ episode. A crackling wood stove down in our basement during the cold Duluth winters of the 1970-80s was the pleasant ‘second-warmed’. We were truly twice warmed, with one of those times being sweaty and full of mosquitoes.

Making a paddle is like that, minus the Cro-magnon physical labor aspect that wood heat requires. There’s a good bit less mosquitoes involved, too. Spend time in your garage making the paddle. That’s the ‘first warmed’. Getting that piece of wood out on the water becomes the (hopefully) ongoing and repetitive ‘second-warmed’. Hopefully, there’s only a few mosquitoes around for your version of ‘second-warmed’.

I still have the first paddle I made and I still derive a good deal of pleasure whenever I opt to use it. It still works. It still feels good and I am still twice warmed.

My paddles have evolved over the years as I have improved in my craft and explored other materials and styles. The first one was not the only one, rather it was like dipping my toe in the lake and finding it to be a pleasant temperature. My shop is full of paddles now, and full of wood waiting to become kits and custom paddles.

I hope you’ll consider the double pleasures of making a paddle. It’s just like wood heat, but without the hard labor. You’ll be ‘twice-warmed’ in the best of ways !!

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Taking Time to Enjoy the Water. Simple.

September 20, 2016

happy-ghost-paddle-blog

Out on the edge of the continent, in that tiny little 100 yard strip of water in the surf zone there’s usually plenty of action with paddles and sup, etc. It’s easy to assume that because we see so much of that little tiny 100 yard strip that everything in SUP must be like that. Young blond women in bikinis, paddling hard to catch the wave while looking good for the front side camera.

It just ain’t so.

Young blond women, like my daughter here, can sit down on a paddleboard and simply look at nature and listen to the birds and sometimes even the silence. No front side camera. No furious paddling to catch the wave. No Beach Boys playing in the background about the eternal party ongoing in the 100 yard strip of trend setting Americana.

Someday I’ll do the math, but I’m sure the number is staggering. Inland water, flyover water, fresh, flat water like this stretch of the Yahara is the staggering majority of paddling water. I’ll bet 99.995% of paddling water is like this and excludes the surf zone. It’s not all about the frenzy of the surf zone. It trends followed the numbers, it would be about flyover water in all its simple and many beauties. Yet somehow, the gnat on the tail of the dog, wags the dog. That silly little surf zone makes the market so to speak, while we here in flyover country happily enjoy the silence and simplicity of good paddling water.

North Americans are blessed with an abundance of beautiful simple water to get out and immerse in. Feel the silence. Listen to the little waves hit the bottom of the board.

Flyover water rocks. I love it.

Summer Day on Flyover Water

September 13, 2016

flyover-yahara-flyover-pine

It’s gorgeous this time of year. At least to my eyes, the light is starting to seem a bit different as we approach the autumnal equinox (9/22 this year btw). Trivia question for the day – what is an equinox? Bonus point for difference between equinox and solstice. I offer no answer, save to write that relief for this burning unanswered trivia is but one easy Google search away.

Anyway, it’s gorgeous out. The geese are just starting to fly overhead and we just had our first ground fog morning. No color yet, but it is coming soon! Our middle daughter and I managed to make it out for a paddle before she left for college. Wish there had been time for more. Oh well. I’m guessing when you want to see your kids more and not less it must mean you are getting old?

It was a perfect day for simple flyover country water – For those of you near Madison, WI., the stretch of the Yahara river between Lake Kegonsa and Mud Lake is superb simple wild water, just a stone’s throw from an urban area. Easy access at multiple points and you hardly ever see other paddlers.

My own youthful years had a fair amount of wild water out on the Salmon and other western rivers. Even with a brain full of those cherished memories, I find myself hugely enjoying the simple act of paddling flyover water like this. Stunning. Gorgeous. Simple.

Slow Wood is kind of like Slow Food

September 5, 2009
Hand Tools and Slow Wood make nice things together

Hand Tools and Slow Wood make nice things together

Each paddle is different, whether from the wood, the tools, or the mood.  Patience is part of this game too.  If you go too fast “tear out” or chatter marks happen and either one can be a show stopper.  A little bit at a time followed by a rub of the hand to check progress is the order of the day.  Reality TV is full of food shows now, many of which show and tell about the wonders of enjoying the journey rather than the destination.  In other words, enjoy making the meal as much as you enjoy eating it. Here in our shop, the order of the day is to enjoy the feel of the tools, enjoy the sound of the wood as it curls off the shaft under the spokeshave. There’s a balance between churning out one more paddle to meet the deadline and allowing the time to feel the paddle take its final shape under the drawknife or spokeshave.