Friday, October 9, 2015


     Ten years ago I made a rustic mantel for my daughter and son-in-law.  They wanted one for their fireplace and I had the trees.  Don't like felling needlessly but I had a pair of birches that were on their last legs.  Dying from the top down as birches commonly do.  I could've let nature run its course.  Couple of years and the one on the left would be turning to soil.  Wasn't a big tree but was big enough to chainsaw out a four inch thick, six foot by one foot slab.  Over the years, what was left of the log was carved into two by two and bigger sticks and slid up into the garage rafters.  That's where they sat till this morning.
     Over the years most of them had taken a set but each had at least one straight edge so I was in business.  At least till the second pass on the table saw.  That required a bit of eyeballing and planing of the set edge to bring it to near straight.  Most every stick in the paddles was re-sawed a little on the heavy side with the idea bigger can be made smaller to take out some of the imperfections.  Once the sticks were squared up I cut 'en to length and glued 'em on the handle end of the paddle loom.  Lotta glue.  Glue is good 'specially if it's good glue.  Start to finish seven paddles sucked up a pint of Titebond III.  Hope they don't fall apart.
     So, what's the big deal about birch handles?  Could be I knew the tree while it was still standing and mine are the only hands that've touched the wood.  Maybe it's, as usual, the idea popped out of nowhere, wherever that nowhere might be, as I stood in the garage.  That I looked at the sticks and formed the handles in my mind before I picked one up.  Truth is, wood's wood no matter where it comes from.  'Spose you could say it's simply another one of those 'in your head' things that mean nothing to anyone but me.  And those birch sticks saved me a trip to the lumber yard.

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