Mash Paddle Fiasco

Well, it’s not really a fiasco. But sometime late last spring or early last summer, I broke the Mighty Mash Paddle. A word to the wise: do not use oak for mash paddles. It’s way too porous, and it absorbs too much water when submerged. When it dries out, I believe a lot of the natural wood oils evaporate along with the water. So it gets brittle, and will crack when you drop the paddle end on a concrete basement floor. It broke the end of the paddle, and the crack even extended up the shaft for about 10 inches or so. It was a mighty crack for a mighty paddle. I wasn’t heartbroken, but I was peeved. So I glued and clamped it back together. It’s still holding, but it’s not as good as new. Not even close. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time and use before it cracks and breaks again. When it gets wet, you can tell where the glue is holding the break together.

So I decided to make a new paddle, this time out of maple. Maple is a very hard wood, with a very tight grain. I could tell when I was cutting it that it would make a better paddle. This wood is not easy to cut with a jigsaw. Which I suppose is good for making into an instrument that will be dipped into boiling or near boiling mashes and boils. The cuts on the new paddle are not as straight as on the old one, because of the difficulty in cutting it. But that just gives it character. I still have a fair bit of sanding to do on the maple paddle, but it’s coming along nicely.

The old oak paddle weighs in at 288.9 grams, while the new maple paddle is 320.7 grams. So not much of a difference in the weight, but the maple paddle certainly feels stronger and more durable.

About Mike

I'm the head brewmaster at Shepody Brewery. I'm the one who chooses the recipes, orders supplies, does all the grunt work, and drinks most of the product.
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3 Responses to Mash Paddle Fiasco

  1. Shawn Hinton says:

    Heh heh, I did the same thing. I thought oak was the way to go and cracked the paddle after the first mash. Let me know how the maple works will ya?

  2. Andy says:

    Red Oak or White Oak? I thought white oak would be ideal since it is used for barrels and outdoor furniture and can last for decades untreated. Well, I was looking at rock maple, so I guess I’ll go with that.

  3. poomwood says:

    I now a a bit about brewing and quite a bit about wood.
    I don’t know why folks use oak. It is open grained and contains a tannin which means it won’t rot but it will impart a taste.
    Pine is also open grained also contains a pitch which has a very bitter taste.
    Beech and Sycamore will not impart a flavour. We use then for spoons and rolling pins etc. They are also close grained. I think maple is similar.
    Once you’ve made it and sanded it smooth, wet it, let it dry out. This will lift the grain. Sand it smooth again. Repeat until it no longer lifts (becomes fuzzy)
    Do not oil.
    If wood is left to dry it will not rot.
    Over time, if it fuzzes up again, re-sand.
    Hope this helps. It works for me.

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