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about quietwater paddles and Jeff Bach

quietwater paddles started out in a garage in Stoughton, WI., in the summer of 2010. Or maybe it was 2009. Anyway, quietwater was right next to wavetrainSUP. Some years later, we have grown into... a bigger part of the garage.

The goal remains to make it easier for people to build their own wooden paddles.

The first paddle Jeff made picture of Jeff Bach was back in fifth or sixth grade as a kid growing up outside of Duluth, MN. He used an old drawknife borrowed (kind of) from a grandparent's workbench. He proceeded to make numerous canoe paddles and poles and messed around in small ponds and on occasion, lakes, that his parents would go to on those rare 70's era family vacations.

In college he was lucky enough to fall in to the world of summer camps and lakes up around Ely, Minnesota and the BWCA - Camp House, in a forgotten location off some dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and Camp duNord, which is still a YMCA camp on the shores of Burntside Lake on the outskirts of Ely.

Paddling and guiding in the BWCA were the gateway drugs to whitewater river rafting and guiding out in Oregon and Idaho. Jeff guided on the Rogue, Deschutes, Santiam, and Mackenzie rivers in Oregon, as well as the upper Klamath in northern California. Best of all though, were the years in Idaho on the Main stem and Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Amazing, incredible experiences, from the first trip on the Main Salmon, up through the last trip on the Middle Fork. Other than wife and kids, those years guiding in Idaho are probably the best experiences that ever happened to Jeff! Half a life later, those river summers remain a treasured memory.

Saved by his parents, that first paddle is one that Jeff still has. It's all one piece, with way too much wasted wood. Also, it is nearly as six feet tall. A bit of the voyageur influence perhaps. As a kid, he vaguely remembers reading books about the voyageurs and their paddles with three-inch wide blades and really long shafts.

Fast forwarding through the years, one thing Jeff has realized is that one piece paddles waste most of the wood that they started with. He does not like wasting wood, especially clear, vertical grain, western red cedar. Wanting to conserve wood and still make paddles led him to try working with strips of wood. Even though ripping the wood strip out of a piece of lumber generates sawdust, this is less wasteful than doing a one piece paddle and shaving off 60% of it with a drawknife (even if it is you rgrandfather's).

The kids are grown up now, and the much loved little dog is now chasing rabbits somewhere. What remains is a passion for creating things by hand from wood, especially wood paddles. Hand working wood is becoming a lost art, so growing enthusiasm in others and helping them find the pleasure and joy in woodworking is a ‘thing’ now, too.