Slowly it gets slimmer and lighter. Ground down a thousandth of an inch at a time. Never done one the right way before so as I come closer to the finished blade I turn chicken, afraid to go too far. Grind the blade so thin it would be transparent. Extraordinarily light and totally useless. Maybe zen it into nothingness. Hang the nothing on the wall with a blank sign beneath and pause occasionally to admire the purity of my handiwork.
On the other hand the thought occasionally strikes me I could buy a new ash paddle for a little over a hundred bucks. Figure I've got ten in sand paper, varnish and electricity. When it's all said and done I'll have been paying myself about four to five bucks an hour for a paddle I don't really need. Must be something wrong with either me or the math. In the tech age handcrafting doesn't pay well. Maybe I'll keep making paddles simply to see if I can get faster. Give them away to people who need one even less than I. The idea of pulling up to a busy intersection and handing a homeless guy a hardwood paddle has its appeal.
On the water the other day my son Allan came up with a good idea. I'd been blithering about putting some form of decoration on my paddle. Not an easy thing to do when lacking decorating talent. He simply said, "Ruler." I responded with a blank stare and a "Pardon?" I say that a lot. Means I didn't understand and would like the statement repeated slowly, loudly and clearly. Seems he meant to putting a measuring device on the blade and handle. Many's the time we've used a paddle blade to estimate the length of a fish. Actually inscribing a ruler on a paddle is both a practical and great idea. So that's the plan.