Andre Cloutier

Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.
Wikipedia tells me that:
Essential oil distilled from the root-bark or the fruit was used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food (sassafras tea and candy flavoring) and for aromatherapy.

The dried and ground leaves are used to make filé powder, a spice used in the making of some types of gumbo.

It is also used in the manufacture of the drug ecstasy, and as such, its transport is monitored internationally.

The roots of Sassafras was used in the flavoring of root beer until being banned in 1960.

In 1960, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of sassafras oil and safrole in foods and drugs based on the animal studies and human case reports. Several years later, the sale of sassafras oil, roots, or tea was prohibited by law. Subsequently, both Canada and the United States have passed laws against the sale of any consumable products (beverages, foods, cosmetics, health products such as toothpaste, and others) that contain more than specific small amounts of safrole.[6][/I]

All very interesting i guess, but never having worked with it my question is: when I'm done carving this paddle, would oiling it be preferable to varnish? thanks
Wow, what a smell.
I have a sassafras paddle made by Shaw and Tenney. It's varnished, but you may want to contact them to see why. I bought it from Paul Regan at an assembly.

When Kathryn Klos bought her sassafras paddle from Shaw and Tenney about a year ago it came unfinished and with a small plastic bottle of oil.
If anyone is interested in making their own paddle or other items, I have an unlimited source of rough sawn Sassafras lumber ...widths to 11" and lengths up to 18' .....fantastic wood to work with and the aroma is great. Also, I believe that somewhere on prior posts, there was a discussion on here on the same topic....thanks
my question is: when I'm done carving this paddle, would oiling it be preferable to varnish?

Hey Andre, Why not the best of both worlds? Varnish on the blade, oil on the shaft and grip.

Good idea Dan, maybe I will oil my shaft:D
havent liked the bare wood handles in the past, I'll give it a try. Besides, I've got some tung oil around here somewhere and it polishes up nicely.
How are you liking your first assignment? Fiberglassics, oooohh. Added fins to any canoes yet? Must be dancing with joy


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Where are you, BlueViking? I might be interested if it isn't too difficult to get it here (I'm in the Texas panhandle).
I have liked the results of finishing a couple of paddles with a wipe-on varnish finish. Thin marine varnish 1/3 or 1/4 thinner/varnish, and wipe or brush freely onto paddle and let sit long enough varnish to soak in a bit (5-10 minutes); wipe on another coat if dryish spots appear, then rub excess off as you would if oiling, and let the varnish cure. Additional coats may be applied, to your preference -- fewer coats, more the feel of wood; more coats, more protection. I believe the varnish gives more protection than a rubbed-in finish of tung or linseed oil, while preserving much of the feel of wood. Of course, as Dan suggests, the blade can get a regular brushed-on coat of varnish for more protection. I have found follow-up maintenance easy enough -- a light sanding with a fine grit, followed by a wipe-on, rub-off application has kept a couple of my paddles in good shape for several years.

I prefer the feel of nearly bare wood that results from an oiled finish to the almost plastic feel of wood that has received a couple of varshied as traditionally applied; manual labor for me is writing at a computer keyboard, and I find that blisters come much slower when working with a paddle that has a wiped-on finish that maintains some of the textured feel of wood than with a smooth, polished traditionally varnished paddle.
I'd be interested in some of the sassafras as well. I'm in NE Illinois...

I also prefer oil on the grip & shaft, and the thinned varnish, followed by straight varnish, for the blade. I don't mind doing the light sanding/re-oiling to keep the upper parts looking & feeling good in my hands. Though I have to admit, lately I've been 'glassing more blades, so they just get varnished. The creeks I paddle are pretty shallow much of the year, so abuse happens.
I will make a run to the Mill next week and discuss the possibility of having interested members contacting them direct and having them select and ship any orders they receive..Lumber is rough sawn both sides and any additional sawing, planing or cutting will increase cost per board foot I would imagine. Please send private messages on quantity,widths and desired lengths and I will have some idea of how to present this idea to them...I prefer not to be the "middleman". B]