Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on October 27, 2018, 11:17:40 PM

Title: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on October 27, 2018, 11:17:40 PM
So, I’m pretty into woodworking and wanted to make a wooden mash paddle.

I’ve seen some made out of hardwood like maple or walnut.

Has anyone here made one? Any thoughts on wood choice? Would certain woods impart off putting flavors into the mash?

Lastly, how would you finish it? Would something good safe like General Finishes “Salad Bowl Finish” work?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: Robert on October 27, 2018, 11:33:58 PM
Other than the general category of hardwood, I can't say what wood is best.  But -- NO finish.  At all. Absolutely.  Whatsoever.   And only clean it by rinsing with hot (or boiling if you like) water, no cleaners at all ever.  Anything that gets into the wood will get back out into your wort.  So just get wort and water into it.  I've been using a commercially made wooden mash fork for many years and love it.   Sounds like a great little project.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: tumarkin on October 27, 2018, 11:41:09 PM
I made my mash paddle from maple and it's held up quite well. totally agree - don't use any finish. if you really want to, you could use a light food oil finish but it's not necessary and you'd need to do it regularly or it'll just disappear. so leave it off, and don't worry.

I'd think that almost any tight grained hardwood could be used, but I'd heard maple was a good option and my experience confirms that.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: Robert on October 27, 2018, 11:54:18 PM
I made my mash paddle from maple and it's held up quite well. totally agree - don't use any finish. if you really want to, you could use a light food oil finish but it's not necessary and you'd need to do it regularly or it'll just disappear. so leave it off, and don't worry.

I'd think that almost any tight grained hardwood could be used, but I'd heard maple was a good option and my experience confirms that.

Again, if that oil disappears, it's disappearing into your wort.  And you don't want oil in there.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on October 28, 2018, 12:35:07 AM
I made my mash paddle from maple and it's held up quite well. totally agree - don't use any finish. if you really want to, you could use a light food oil finish but it's not necessary and you'd need to do it regularly or it'll just disappear. so leave it off, and don't worry.

I'd think that almost any tight grained hardwood could be used, but I'd heard maple was a good option and my experience confirms that.

That’s why I was thinking about maple as well.

For something interesting, I thought about maple and then maybe a couple of pauduk strips to give it a really nice orange/amber contrast. But I’d be concerned about the glue...so I guess I won’t do that.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: Robert on October 28, 2018, 01:04:00 AM
A design suggestion.

The fork I use is the classic design, like this:
 https://www.morebeer.com/products/mash-paddle-hardwood-36.html

(I see this is birch, but that's not so crucial.  Don't know what mine is. )   The salient feature (why this design has lasted centuries) is that the large open spaces make it extremely effective at breaking up clumps on mashing in, but it is still just as good at stirring as a solid paddle.   Consider something that will have this kind of functionality -- large holes in the paddle or something.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: goose on October 28, 2018, 05:00:49 PM
When I did my pro-brewer gig we had mash paddles made out of red oak since it is a pretty good hardwood.  However, the high temps in the mash tun eventually spread the fibers of the wood weakening it and I made several trips to get it repaired or remade.  A lot of others use boat oars and they seem to hold up (I think they are maple), but unless they are canoe oars, they might be a bit too  big for home use.

My paddle that I have at home is made of maple and I agree with others, it probably the best wood to use.  Again, no finishes or oils at all on the paddle.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: ynotbrusum on October 29, 2018, 06:56:44 PM
I appreciate the nostalgic vibe of a wooden spoon (ala Charlie) and mash paddle (like Robert), but I must say, once I saw the stainless mash paddle years ago, I didn't even give a wooden one a second thought:

https://www.morebeer.com/products/mash-paddle-stainless-steel-36-drilled-holes.html

I use an old plastic one (from my extract days) solely for measuring volumes (pre-marked it at 1 gallon increments for my MLT/Kettle) - not terribly scientific, but it serves its purpose pretty well.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: RustyPlaneWoodworking on October 30, 2018, 01:17:18 AM
A friend of mine just opened a brewery in Wisconsin, so I was thinking about making him a really nice decorative paddle. In that case, I’d use some sort of finish on it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: ynotbrusum on October 30, 2018, 02:04:31 AM
A friend of mine just opened a brewery in Wisconsin, so I was thinking about making him a really nice decorative paddle. In that case, I’d use some sort of finish on it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

In that case (and assuming it will be a showpiece), I would make something traditional, like Maple or very exotic like several laminates put together.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: reverseapachemaster on October 30, 2018, 04:11:23 PM
In that case (and assuming it will be a showpiece), I would make something traditional, like Maple or very exotic like several laminates put together.

Binding different kinds of wood together requires some kind of glue, right? Not sure I would want that in the mash. Aside from the glue getting into the mash I'd worry that the heat would break down the glue and eventually cause it to fall apart.
Title: Re: Best wood for mash paddle?
Post by: ynotbrusum on October 30, 2018, 04:50:04 PM
In that case (and assuming it will be a showpiece), I would make something traditional, like Maple or very exotic like several laminates put together.

Binding different kinds of wood together requires some kind of glue, right? Not sure I would want that in the mash. Aside from the glue getting into the mash I'd worry that the heat would break down the glue and eventually cause it to fall apart.

Decorative paddle as I understand it - not for actual mash use.