Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Viking Knit Paddles - This is why I love my paddle.

I thought it might be interesting to document how we make Viking Knit paddles.  I sell them on my Etsy site.  Considering what it takes to make one they are crazy cheap but we like making them.  Maybe the price will have to go up - next year.  But for now the price will be the same and in about 10 days they'll be back on-line for all my customers.

They look deceptively easy...you know, one of those things that someone would say, "I'll just have my husband make that for me."  Although I'm proud to say husband has always been one of those makers.  For thirty years he was a toymaker.  Yup, Santa's little helper.  He was making organic, poison free, wonderful wooden toys before they became popular.  So, I got to be one of those wives who when she needed something unusual she'd take a plan to the darling man and he'd make it.  I designed the toys for his business and he did the rest.  Unfortunately, he's had to stop making toys but since I'm darn good at using a band saw and most of the equipment in his studio I can help out now when I want a run of Viking Knit paddles made. 

It's not actually one of those easy little things to make.  They need to fit your hand in a size that can accommodate pulling the finished wire through.  They are made of maple (a hard maple variety) so they will last and the holes won't distort yet it won't scrape the precious wire braid - I've been using the same one for 15 years.  Maple is great closed grain kind of wood that doesn't splinter easily.  Who wants splinters of Oak or Ash in their hands....not me! After that wood is bought and lugged home it has to be ripped, the pattern drawn on, recut, sanded on both the sides and flat, drilled, and routed.  Doing a single paddle - well - it would be quite the chore.  I guess this is why Henry Ford made a production line!  It doesn't make it easier but at least you get more paddles and if you are setting up to do one paddle you might as well make dozens.

And since we don't want them to split and get yucky we use the same sawyer for the wood that we've used for the toys.  It's kiln dried to perfection.  As a side note I'm so sorry to say they are closing.  I'm so bummed about that.  We bought all the remaining boards of this kind they had and will go back next week and get some wood for other projects I would like to do. 

So here we go - The making of a Viking Knit Paddle.  Or at least the beginning......

Buy the boards and bring them home.  In this state they are called 8/4 boards - too wide and too thick to use so it's on to the next step.

The 8/4 boards get ripped down on the table saw into a useable size.

 The 8/4 boards are thick enough to get three thicknesses of paddles so they are ripped into the right size width wise and them re-sawn (ripped) for the appropriate thickness.
One pass done on the table saw.and one to go for the three smaller boards.
Once the right size board is made it's back to the drawing board for the paddle pattern to go on and then it's on to the second saw - this time each one has to be cut out at the band saw.  Tedious work but worth it for a good paddle.

What a process, huh?  I told you it looks deceiving...just a simple looking piece of wood with holes.  There's more to come and when I have photos I'll get them up.  I kind of covet my paddle - USA made with love and care to the process.  Woot woot!



Monique (A Half-Baked Notion) said...

Um, yes, it always LOOKS easy to someone who doesn't have a clue of the knowledge and experience required, never mind the helpful assortment of power tools, to make a supposedly "simple" design. As in many skilled endeavors, Sharon!

Lela said...

What a lot of work!

rosebud101 said...

Wow~ I should order one from you! That's a lot of work!

Maplegirl said...

I have one of your handmade paddles, and I love using it. Great tool. Andrea