I took a great paddle making class a few years ago, but haven’t had the time since to make another one.  My 4 year old keeps growing so she was due for another paddle.  She is in love with the colour purple so I grabbed a bit of purple heart along with some poplar and walnut and made her a little paddle for our adventures.


The second paddle was a present to my wife, after many years she was still using some junky old paddle lying around the garage.  Her’s is also in the picture above, it’s made from walnut and butternut and is very light.  Mainly used hand tools to plane down the blades and shape the shafts, worked out great. Both paddles were finished with spar varnish, wasn’t happy with the product and it smelt awful.  I’ve read many people say that poly is better as it is harder, and you don’t really need the uv protection for the limited amount of time it is outside, so on the next one I’ll use some poly instead.


Up next I’m making a paddle for a local kids charity to use for their silent auction.  Hopefully it brings in some big bucks for the organization, it will be auctioned off at a canoe fundraiser so hopefully it’s a good fit.

Anatomy of a Chair

Black Forest Wood Company offers many wood working classes and I’ve always been interested in taking one or two of them.  Unfortunately my previous line of work had me away at night and on weekends, which ruled out just about every class they have ever offered.  The class that interested me the most was “Anatomy of a Chair” taught by Doug Haslam.  Doug is a local furniture designer and maker and has been teaching this class for several years.


The class is limited to 8 students so you get lots of one on one time with Doug.  He has a great wealth of knowledge and what I really liked about the class was that he would give instruction, and then let you go and figure it out for awhile.  He was always around for questions and you really got the most out of the class by asking as many as possible.


The weekend was spent learning the various geometries of chairs, then designing and finally building a prototype chair out of poplar using screws to hold it together.  You were free to do whatever you liked, however the chair was meant to be of the kitchen/dining variety.  At the end of the second day we were taught about mortise and tenon joints and shown how to make one.  My only criticism was that we didn’t actually get to practice this.


I was quite happy with my chair and how it turned out.  It’s not necessarily the style of chair I would make for myself, I chose the design in order to best learn the various techniques needed to build it.  It’s incredibly comfortable, and while I never meant for it to be used in my house, it is currently attached to my daughters booster seat high chair as it’s far more stable than our crappy Ikea chairs.  I highly recommend the course, it’s well worth the money and you don’t even require a whole lot of woodworking skills as Doug can teach you as you go (a couple of guys in the class had only ever used hand tools but were quickly brought up to speed on the bandsaw, jointer, table saw, and drill press).