Paddling Mash

The work begins

The work begins

I’m not sure why they call it a mash paddle, because paddling mash would make a mess.  Why is it not a mash stirrer?  When I got into home brewing back in November of 2009 I started really simple; like most books say to do.  So my starter kit came with a plastic spoon used to stir the extract into the boil kettle.  As I moved into partial mash brewing or a modified BIAB or even that one-off small all grain batch (that ended up way low on my SG), I used this small plastic spoon.  I’ve always wanted a big healthy mash paddle.  One that would break your ass bone if you got paddled with it.

One of my best friends; my unofficial brewmaster has a nice stainless steel paddle.  Easy to clean; easy to sanitize and will get hot as fire if left near a burner.  I’ve priced them and they’re easily $30+.  You see lots of wooden paddles that are easily $30+ too.  So which do I choose?  I have several friends at work that I know do wood working.  One has a mobile wood mill, but he and another usually only deal with soft wood, cutting trees, making planks from pine and fire wood.  Another I know does do some real woodworking; tables, legs, etc.  So I ask him if he has any hardwood scrap lying around.  He does have a rather large piece of cherry lying around, but it’s too big for a paddle, but I might be able to work with it.  It’s a 2″x6″x4″; which might be what I asked for.  Either way, it’s a large piece of wood, heavy and dense.

1:45 minutes

1:45 minutes

Now that work has decided to control my social life, marriage life plus my eating habits (I lost 10 lbs in a week) along with already controlling my financial life, I have some free time to start working on making this tree trunk a mash paddle.  My first day off during the week I open up the garage and start outlining the paddle plus chop off the end to make the paddle 30″ long.  If you haven’t heard, we’ve gotten some much-needed rain this year and I’m really enjoying it.  The more I handle the board the more I realize it’s too thick to easily use as a paddle, so I have to split it using the tools that I have.

I know it’s going to suck, but I didn’t realize it was going to be a two shirt job.  I had to change shirts after I finished getting it split.  Because I started using the jig saw to cut it, it didn’t last longer after I split it.  So it’s time to shower and charge the battery for a couple of days since I have to work again.  I finally finished the rough cutting the next day and it has a decent shape now.  My next few days off and I’m ready to get back to work when I find the battery still in the jig saw on the table.  So maybe it needs another day to charge?  Which doesn’t do much because I got two cuts in the paddle head and a dead battery, sheesh!

Cutting complete & first sanding

Cutting complete & first sanding

Another full night of battery charging and after getting the grass cut, I get the paddle slots cut out and get a quick first sanding done on it.  The slots are needed to naturally help in stirring, but also in breaking up dough balls when mashing in.  So this is where we are now, but it’s not complete.  I’m going to do some more rounding on the corners, sand out saw marks, possible thin the handle on the front and back for a better grip.  I may even do some branding down the shaft, either by burning or using a router.  Neither of which I have the tools to use to do this.

I wanted to give some further details on how to make your own and found a great DIY article on  They also suggest a tight grain, low resin wood like white oak, poplar or cherry woods.  I didn’t look for this article until writing this now and see our head designs are similar.  Searching Google images you find lots of circles in the head and the rare one-off work of arts like hop cones or a Dogfish Head logo.  I searched the big box stores for hard wood too and see my local Lowes has a 1x6x6 piece of poplar for under $20 bucks.  You can make two paddles out of that piece which is roughly $10 a paddle (and free labor).  Hmm, does anyone want a custom-made mash paddle for $40 bucks?  I could make a small killing doing that.  The local Home Depot has the same size piece of cherry wood for right around $40 dollars.  So you get a prettier paddle in my opinion, but unless you just want to do the labor you might as well buy a paddle at that cost and save your shoulders.  Mines were shot are splitting this piece for two hours.  Though a 1x6x6 won’t need to be split.

Comment below if you’ve made your own paddle or have questions for me.  I’ve read a couple of blogs just yesterday on fellow bloggers either getting a refresh or putting it down for a month.  I’ve been on an eight month hiatus; so I’m good for a minute.  Expect to see big news soon!


hand mill complete outlined I was only able to two slots before killing my 18v battery again hand mill

Posted on August 14, 2013, in homebrew and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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