Sunday, February 26, 2012

Paddle Making?

Well, yes - and more.

I've really got some juggling going on in the shop.  I have 12 students in my class this session and the attendance rate is very high - I haven't had less than 10 students show up for any one class.  You will note, however, that I haven't posted about the class much until now.  Oh, yeah, I've posted about paddle making resources, some basics about picking good hand tools and lumber, but not about what's going on in the class.

The reason?

I've been too busy to pick up the camera - until I made a concerted effort today.  Consider the fact that in the class I have the following:

One student finishing his canoe (by special arrangement...)
Two students making oars
Three students building double-bladed paddles
Six students crafting single-bladed paddles

Let's just say it is a hopping place.  The oar makers seem to be having the greatest progress.  They've marked out the patterns, roughed the blades and shafts of the oars using the bandsaw, and were re-marking them with the outlines of the blades today.

My canoe-building student and I stayed late last week to fiberglass the outside of his hull, and this week he got another coat of epoxy on it.  We were hoping to get a second "hot coat" on, but the temperatures were cool and wouldn't co-operate.

Two of the three students making double-bladed paddles are making laminated blades.  They seemed to be having a fair amount of difficulty today re-sawing their thin pieces to laminate together.  I think a review of their methods may be in order for next week.  The other student is going to have sawn blades and had prepared the shaft and blade stock to glue together.

Single-bladed paddle makers are making good progress as well.  Two are making "one-board" paddles, but with some customization.  One will have a contrasting tip and grips, while the other will have contrasting tips, grips and blade edges.  The blade edge is going to be interesting because this student wants the edge to follow the contour of the blade.  To deal with this, she's cut a template from plywood so that we can use a router with a pattern bit to make smooth mating curves that we can glue together.  On top of the cosmetic appeal of these tips, they also serve a functional purpose.  The wood is hard, and the grain direction (for the tips) is perpendicular to the grain of the blades.  This helps to avoid splitting of the blade tips.

The contrasting tips are being made with a mortise and tenon arrangement for strength.  The tenon is easily made on the table saw with a dado head.  The ends of the tenon are then cut short with a hand-saw.  The mating mortise was created by drilling and chiseling out the material.  We could have done this several ways.  If we had a small enough mortising bit, we could have used that.  Alternatively, the router table could have been employed to create the mortise using an up-cut bit.  We could have also used a spline and dadoed both parts.  Many ways to approach this, really.

The other four students are working with "glued-up" paddles consisting of a center shaft with glued-on blades and grips.  In one case (at least at the moment) we also have a contrasting tip as well.   On the glued-up paddle below, you will note that there are two contrasting strips of wood on the blade - these are "skids" that are taped to the blades with carpet tape.   The surface of the strips is co-planar to the surface of the shaft and provide a stable base for machining operations on both the table saw and the band saw.

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