Monday, June 22, 2015

Leather Paddle Hanger

A while back, I wrote a post about Norquay Company, a Canadian startup which is trying to put an artistic touch to utilitarian paddles. Their ever-growing series of artisan canoe paddles are manufactured by Teal Canoe in New Liskeard, Ontario with bold patterns painted on the blade.

Also featured on the site is their Leather Paddle Harness, a simple and rustic looking way of suspending a paddle.

Norquay Leather Paddle Harness

With the recent completion of my 2nd son's heirloom paddle, I wanted to hang it and his brother's paddle in the basement man cave. However, I've found that most paddle hangers only function properly with a standard shaped pear grip and not with the elongated style grips featured on my own paddles. With a batch of leather scraps waiting to be used, I set out to make two of these styles of hangers.

Leather Scraps

I ended up using pieces roughly 4" long by 1.5" wide but this can be enlarged or reduced depending on what you want. Holes were punched in the corners.

An edging tool used to give some borders.

In my case, a piece of scrap lace was used that would not match the final color, but it didn't matter since it would not be visible in the final hanging. The pic below shows the partial lacing pattern (the final knot has not been tied yet)

After stamping my son's name and staining in a mahogany color, the leather harness was placed on the grip loosely. The tension created by pulling on the loop (right side) created an effective friction fit on the northwoods style grip. This would then been hung on a standard picture frame hook.

Here's a pic of it suspended in place...

And a final pic of my boys' heirloom paddles on the basement wall next to my bourbon shelf...

Monday, June 8, 2015

c1920 Abercrombie & Fitch "Algonquin style" paddle

Here is an interesting set of paddles from the June current selections page of the

Abercrombie & Fitch Canoe Paddles
Both of these paddles are stamped with an early Abercrombie and Fitch brand on the blade, and both are decorated with a Turk's head knotted rope collar beneath the grip.
Circa 1920
6" w, 72" h

Blade Closeup

Decorative Turk's Knot on grip bases

 Abercrombie and Fitch mark on blade 

Back before Abercrombie & Fitch morphed into a casual clothing retailer, it was a major US outfitter for camping gear. One of their early catalogs (1916) is available online on Page 53 of this document has a small writeup on their 2 paddle models. Here is the screen grab..

Looks like these paddles are their 6-foot "Algonquin" style which were priced at a whopping $1.50 back then.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Luke M's current paddles

Paddle maker, Luke M from Wales (see previous post HERE) has sent in photos of some of his new carvings.  Here is a group photo showcasing his latest full sized paddle and a small child's paddle alongside his restored axe.

The smaller paddle was carved from a piece of felled ash and the carving axe has a 3 ½ pound double bit with a cleft handle made from the same ash tree as his previous batch of paddles.

The full sized paddle was carved from a harvested log of larch. It was carved completely by eye and the design was copied from the 1875 Passamaquoddy ocean canoe paddle in the Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America. It was finished smooth with a crooked knife and not sanded. Here are his photos of the paddle being roughed out with the axe and some finished views of it at a different angle to illustrate the grain.

Work in progress

All carved by eye

Beautiful grain pattern

Luke also sent in a photo of his two latest crooked knife blades. They are made from band saw blades. He used a forge made from two kiln bricks and a propane torch to make these, which he mentioned was an improvement from using a wood stove.

Thanks Luke for sending in your wonderful pics!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cherry Gallery - Children's Decorative Penobscot Paddles

From the April 2015 Current Selections page of

Pair of Child's Canoe Paddles
These two handmade birch canoe paddles have traditional long, flat handles and carved diamonds where the shafts meet the blades. They are potentially Penobscot made. They show their age - one paddle has a warped shaft and the other has a separation in the blade, but they display well on a wall nonetheless.
Circa 1920
5" w, 42.75" h

Grip Closeup

Blade Shapes

Diamond Motif carved at throat

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Refurbishing a favourite paddle into an heirloom

Six years ago, I was working on the woodburning decoration of the c1849 replica when my pregnant wife's water broke and we rushed to the hospital.

Working on the paddle the night my older son was born (2008)

For that reason, that paddle has always been linked to my firstborn so I decided to commemorate the occasion by decorating the other side with a height marker, images of his little hands, feet and some important milestones (see that full post here). It has become a bit of family tradition to take the paddle off the wall on his birthday and burn on his new height before eating the cake.The cherry wood has darkened in the past 6 years and now the "little guy" has grown up to the base of the grip on this 58" paddle.

The decorated blade

With the recent birth of our 2nd child, I decided to refurbish another cherry paddle with a similar height marker. This Cherry Guide paddle is actually the favourite all-around paddle design I've carved and this paddle has accompanied me on many excursions. You can see it in action in a few of my Youtube videos, like the daytrip to the Limberlost Wilderness Preserve.

Decorated and Plain sides of the Cherry Guide paddle

While not exactly the same design as the original heirloom paddle, they were both carved from the same stock of cherry and have the identical blade shape. Basically the two paddles are close enough to be "siblings" so thought this would be appropriate for little brother. This paddle has been heavily oiled over the years, but fortunately that process still permits some pyrography to be added later - another reason why I prefer oiling to varnish. The woodburning tips need to be at higher heat than unfinished wood and this causes them to collect a burnt residue needing frequent pausing to clean, so the process is slow but satisfactory. Just as last time, a metal straight edge was clamped to the paddle to burn the centre line and the inch markers.

Marking off and burning the lines

Previously, I used an old scanner to get a digital image of my older son's hands & feet. The old  scanner is broken so to get a realistic-sized copy of our newborn's hands and  feet, I pressed his hands against a pane of glass, took a photo, and used Photoshop to render the image into "photocopy" mode as the starting point for the burn.

The images were slowly burned onto the blade along with his birth details and now little brother has an heirloom paddle of his own.

Little brother's paddle details

Managed to take a shot of us practicing a paddle stroke with his future paddle on dry land.

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