Making a homemade paddle

The other day I made some paddles, and took some pics of the very simple process. Paddles are easy to make, and really have a significant influence on the final look of the pot. You can buy them in various places, but what you get is fairly uninteresting compared with what you can produce on your own for next to nothing.

I first became interested in homemade paddles after looking at old Karatsu pots and pot shards. If I wanted to mimic those pots I was going to need similar tools.

In the first picture you can see the blanks to be used for the paddles. I had a pine branch laying around waiting for a chance to be useful. It is cut diagonally at about a 1″ thickness. If you cut vertically (rip), you will lose the interesting figure created by the growth rings. If you cross cut you will need a very large diameter log to cut blanks from to get the size paddle you need. Also the paddle will be very weak and easily broken. Cutting diagonally solves both problems giving you a strong paddle with interesting wood figure. This will later be reflected in the clay surface. Also, you can get a relatively large paddle from a small diameter branch.

Here are the blanks with outlines of paddles marked on them. I flare the base of the paddle handles because a tapered or straight handle tends to slip during use.

I used a benchtop bandsaw to cut the blanks out. You could use any saw really, it’s just a matter of speed.

Next get your trusty burner torch, and blacken the whole paddle. The burning will create texture in the paddle since the soft ring burn faster than the dense rings, leaving the dense rings raised. Also, it’s just fun playing with the torch, and the pine smells nice. The burning also rounds off sharp edges and corners making the paddle more comfortable to handle.