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DIY: Mash Paddle

I’ve had a few folks ask me about the mash paddles I make and sell at Original Gravity. I know the last ones went off the shelves months ago and I haven’t had a chance to get them restocked. So, another brewer reached out to me on Homebrewtalk.com asking if I still made them and if so, would I be willing to ship it to him. I responded with a “yes, I still make them” knowing full well I would have to force myself to make the time to do it. This weekend was that time. I managed to cut several in spite of the heat and they are drying right now.

As I started I knew I was not going to get a chance to make more for quite some time so I decided to put together “how to” article so you can cut you own if you so chose. Just so you know, they are very labor intensive and time consuming.

That said, let’s get started.

The first thing you want to do is choose your wood. Maple, walnut, and oak all work very well. But, there are plenty of others that would work also. Just do your research to make sure it’s can be used for food grade applications. For today I will be using reclaimed walnut.

Walnut Mash Paddle

I start by getting my tools together. I use a table saw, jig saw, router with 3/8” roundover bit, a cordless drill with hole saws (2” & 1 ¾”), a Dremel, an orbital sander, and a can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes (yep…you read that right). I’ll explain later.

Mash Paddle Tools

Next I rough cutting the blank down to size. My paddles are 36” long x 3.5” wide x ¾” thick.

Rough cut mash paddle

Once I’ve cut it to the rough dimensions I then draw the paddle on the blank. This is where you will use the can of tomatoes. The paddle part is 16” long with 5 holes. I mark the center using a pattern and alternate 2” and 1 ¾” holes. You can do whatever you want to here. Be creative! I then draw a line at 2” from the handle end. In between the the 2” line and the 16” line I draw the stem. This is 1 ½” wide. Once I have all the hard lines drawn I take the can of tomatoes and use it to draw the rounded corners. If you don’t have a can of Rotel you can use whatever you can find. A Rotel can has a radius of 1 5/16” and works well.

Layout Mash Paddle

You should now have the outline of a mash paddle drawn on your blank. Now you are ready to cut it into a paddle. For this I use a jig saw with a pretty aggressive blade. Walnut is hard and will dull a blade pretty quick.  At this point I will go ahead and cut the holes all the way through.

jigsaw2 mash paddle

I now have a very rough cut paddle with plenty of bumps and blade marks. I use the Dremel tool with a sanding barrel attachment to smooth things out. This ensures that the router rides smooth along the edge.

 

Now that the edges are smooth I set the router bit to the correct height on the router and roundover the edges. I then Dremel the insides of the holes to smooth them out because the orbital sander will not fit.

Routed mash paddle

 

Now comes the fun part. SANDING! This part sucks but is the most rewarding. I will usually start with 80 grit paper on my orbital sander, then 110 grit and finish with 220 grit. DO NOT SKIP A STEP! If you try to save time and effort by skipping a step you will never get the wood as smooth as it needs to be. Once I finish sanding I clean everything off and then wipe on two coats of tung oil. The tung oil needs to cure completely so make sure you allow 2 weeks before using your paddle.

Sanded Mash Paddle

That’s it. You now have a sturdy mash paddle that will bust up dough balls even in the thickest mashes. Have fun and happy brewing! Cheers!

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