Years ago I made a canoe paddle out of an ash board left over from cabin building. Good wood, bad paddle. It was a club, pure and simple. Didn't give it enough thought, research or time. The poor paddle never had a chance. Since then it has evolved into a decoration above the shed doors up north. Good spot for it.
That the first one didn't work out hasn't stopped me from considering a second one, also from ash. So that's why I was up in the garage rafters yesterday rummaging through leftover boards. I knew there were some old ash boards up there. From down below both appeared straight grained and true. I was wrong. The grain was fine but both boards looked like they were halfway through a left hand turn and stopped by heavy traffic. Guess things happen over three decades.
Lucky for me I'm a scrounger. Hate to part with a buck or a board if I don't have to. The wood also carries some meaning in my life. If I make a paddle, and I will, it'll be from those boards. The trees they were sawn from were felled by a good friend of mine who passed away a few years ago. Without his help and a few of his tools the boards would never have come to be. It'd be nice to have a little bit of his labor in my hands once in a while particularly when the paddle is in places he'd have enjoyed.
Friday July 25: This morning I ripped the boards into inch and a quarter strips. Two five footers for the handle, eight two footers for the blade and grip. The paddle will be laminated from necessity and with a bonus of strength. Another friend of mine said I make little boards out of big boards then put them back together in a different shape. As yet I don't know what the paddle style will be but it will look like something. Maybe another club. Hope not.
Saturday July 26: The glue has been applied and some of the clamping done. The two side pieces of the blade are individually clamped as is the shaft. When the glue dries all three pieces will be joined and a couple of small pieces added to the top of the shaft where the grip will eventually be. I finally bit the bullet and went for Gorilla Glue since it's waterproof. Don't want the paddle coming apart out in the boonies. Doubt I'd get stranded but it sure would be embarrassing. Tomorrow I'll set the result aside till I bring a beavertail paddle home from the cabin. The beavertail will serve as a template to trace out the new paddle.
Evening: All the wood is glued and clamped. At the moment she's a real club. Or maybe a heavy duty pizza paddle.
Sunday July 27: No paddle work today. Happily there's a canoe rack needs building. I'd had a homemade one on my Jeep. It was spiffy. Worked fine at speeds up to eighty miles per hour. The new rack will be similar but this time made from oak. The boards came from the same source as the paddle ash. They'd been sitting in the garage rafters for all of the twenty-seven years we've lived in this house. Still rough sawn and dirty. Each had been odd man out at the saw mill and weren't thick enough to plane to a smooth three quarters of an inch. Pulled them down, ripped them at an inch and a half and hand planed them smooth. They'll be glued in pairs and joined to form a strong and attractive frame. At least I hope that's the way it'll work out.
Honestly, I was hoping this post wouldn't be as dull as it is. Could be preparation isn't as enjoyable in the reading as it is in the doing. Don't know about you but I'm having a good time.
That I now have a September BWCA trip in the offing came as a surprise. And added to my life. The canoe trip and El Dean's big backside have given me new life and new projects. Things to repair and prepare. Not fading away as yet.
I've even started to connive a possible Canada trip. Of course it's only in my mind at the moment. Over in The Uncle Emil Tales I wrote of a fictitious trip he and I took to an unnamed lake. Our adventure never actually happened but the lake we travelled to is there, at least it is on the map. In 2009 my son Allan and I crapped out on finding a way into the lake. Ten yards of colorful tape instead of the hundred yards I thought I had did us in. A real woodsman could have made it by simply using blazes and natural markers. Truth is, the mile and a half bushwhack had me a little nervous. I wrote the Uncle Emil story figuring the only way I'd make it to the unnamed lake was in my mind. Fiction imitating life. I'd like to turn that around.
At the moment I'm off to the cabin with hopes of finding writing material.