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I work in a popcorn shop and we use an enormous 40 gallon kettle to Caramelize our product. The biggest annoyance is trying to get the little pieces out of the bottom of the pot. Here is an easy do-it-yourself project to make a paddle for any type of food preparation.

Step 1: How to Make a DIY Wooden Paddle

I work in a popcorn shop and we use an enormous 40 gallon kettle to Caramelize our product. The biggest annoyance is trying to get the little pieces out of the bottom of the pot. Here is an easy do-it-yourself project to make a paddle for any type of food preparation.

Step 2: Start With a Board

I used a 2 x 4 piece of pine that I had just laying around the garage. Depending on how long you need the piece to be, cut it accordingly. My kettle is about 50 inches high so I made mine 60 inches long. Start by drawing a centerline all the way down the center of the board. I made my handle one and a half inches wide and I made the head 3 1/2 inches wide and 11 inches long.

Step 3: Cutting

I used a jigsaw to cut out the pattern. It could be done with a hack saw if you don't have a jigsaw (but do have the patience). Keep in mind that the edges will very likely have some minor ridges in them depending on how steady you are with the saw, though I think this adds to the allure of hand made products.

Step 4: Time to Sand. and Sand. and Sand...

This is where you will spend the majority of the project. I started with a 120 grit on an orbital sander and just went to town. Make sure and get the edges especially where the head transfers to the handle. After the initial sanding, I used a belt sander to mow down the end of the head into a wedge shape. You may find it takes less time to cut the tip at an angle with a miter saw and then sand, but I did not have the foresight to do this. Let me know if it works for you. This is also another time when you have some liberty to make it to suit your needs. I made mine a wedge shape because of the way my kettle is curved. You may want to make a hooked end for dough, flatten it out for pizza, or even leave it square. It is up to you. Once you have decided on a tip, go back with a 240 grit and really put some elbow grease into every nook and cranny. You should be exhausted and very dusty after this part. I then went back with a piece of 1500 grit for about 30 minutes just to really level the grain. This is optional but it makes the finish feel like silk. Over all I think I spent 4 hours sanding to get it just where I wanted it, so set aside some time to commit to this step.

Step 5: Engraving – Optional

This step is entirely optional. If you have a letter punch set laying around or are well-versed in carving then make it your own! I punched my companies initials in the handle.

Step 6: Varnish

Once you finish sanding and you have the paddle where you like it it's time to start varnishing. IMPORTANT!!! If you you plan to use this on food you must make sure to use the right varnish. While I've heard that walnut oil and other nut oil's work very well to seal wood, they could cause serious problems with those who are allergic to nuts. Ive heard mixed things about linseed oil, but decided not to risk it. I used Watco Butcher Block Oil and Finish, which you can pick up from Lowes for about $12. This is the only thing I bought during the whole project. Use a soft cloth or old t-shirt and really rub the first coat in to make sure it soaks into the grain. Let it sit for about six hours. I used a 1500 grit sandpaper and smoothed it out before a second coat, and again before the third. The container says to continue varnishing until you acquire the desired shimmer, but three coats was shiny enough for me. Let her sit for 72 hours, wash with soap and water, dry, and you are set to cook!
<p>Very cool. Thanks for sharing how you made your paddle / spatula. I hope we see more from you in the future!</p>

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