Eric Butler

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About Eric Butler

  • Birthday June 7

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Mount Laurel, NJ
  • Woodworking Interests
    Kitchenware, furniture, toys, games and puzzles.

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  1. Philly/South Jersey Woodworkers, I need help flattening a couple large pieces of figured cherry (pic attached), preferably someone with a very large helical jointer and/or planer or maybe someone with a cnc or well-built router sled setup. They're currently 5' long, 2-3" thick, and vary from 18-24" wide but I could rough cut them down as small as 15" wide to fit on a machine if I can find one available that large. I'm happy to compensate you for the wear and tear on your machines, I'm just trying to avoid the high hourly rates of the lumber companies in the area. Thanks for any help, if nothing else I look forward to talking to some fellow woodworkers in my area! Eric
  2. Thanks to all, I'm glad I asked! I knew when I started thinking about this project that it would be a tricky one. John, thanks for the info about walnut. I assumed that it was a tighter-grained wood because of it's frequent use in cutting boards (but we all know the saying about "What happens when we assume?", ha ha). I also hadn't thought about the allergen aspect of it. I'm not sure if that applies to the wood either. I'm deployed in the Middle East right now and my only access to wood expertise is you guys, Google, and Wikipedia and I can't find a clear answer about nut allergies and walnut wood so I'll probably take your advice and scrap it from my plans and maybe give some cherry a "sun tan." Eric - You're probably right on all counts (sigh...) but I do agree with Don, wooden paddles have been used pretty extensively in the past in brewing. I think I just need to crack the code here...stay tuned for the release of "Bug Spit Ale". I can see the ads now: "A summer ale with a slightly sweet aroma and a hoppy, grasshopper-like mouthfeel!" Maybe breweries go unfinished with their paddles and replace them often or they finish them lightly with mineral oil and it has a negligible effect on a huge batch (a luxury my buddies do not have, only 5 gallons at a time). As far as finish and assembly, I think some testing will be on my "To Do" list when I get home. I'm still clinging to the hope that I can pull off a two-tone piece. Most glues (Titebond III, Gorilla Wood Glue, etc.) seem to be FDA rated for indirect food contact as well as waterproof, but are only rated up to 150 deg. F. Since the mash is typically 150-160F, my theory is that periodic stirring and removal of the paddle may not ever raise the actual temperature of the glue to 150 and cause failure. I may test a few simple glue-ups on some hardwood scraps when I get home, I'll post results if I get around to it and anyone's interested. My other option would be a poly glue like classic "Gorilla Glue". It seems that although it's not officially FDA certified it's plenty safe after curing and the temp ratings I found were in the 200+F range. Does anyone have any better info about Gorilla? This will be included in my tests, which my "inner nerd" is pretty excited about. I have a degree in Materials Science Engineering that's mostly collecting dust during my time in the military, ha ha. Worst case scenario here looks like a simple, one-piece hard maple paddle with no finish and just hope for the best with regards to durability. Thanks again for the advice, I'll post again after I'm home and I can spend some time tinkering after the holidays.
  3. Greetings! I am a novice woodworker but I showed a couple of projects/designs to some friends at work and they asked me to help them with a project of their own. They are all avid "home-brewers" of beer and they asked me to help them design some nice looking wooden "mash paddles" to stir their brews with. A fancy and a simple example are posted below. Imagine a 3-4' wooden spatula with a 4-8" end with holes/openings in it to help stir and break up clumps of grain in very hot water. My design plan right now is to make a nice-looking two-tone hard maple and walnut paddle with 5 pieces glued up similar to a cutting board, about 12"x 6" on the paddle end. The outside and center pieces will be hard maple with the center piece extending 48" to become the handle (rough drawing posted below; my friends like the design on the right). My questions are: 1)Wood choice-My current selections are based on research of cutting boards/butcher blocks and kitchen utensils. My friends emphasized the need to avoid contamination of the beer both from bacteria and from oils/aromas from the wood. Hard maple seems to be a clear winner here, but is there a better (reasonably expensive and available) alternative to walnut that would still give me the two-tone look I'm going for? 2)Construction-My current plan is to glue up the pieces along the edge grain, leaving the face grain exposed, possibly driving dowels through the width of the paddle to add strength, but I'm worried about wood movement in that "plane" given that the paddle will be frequently submerged and then dried. Should I expose the edge grain and glue the face grain instead? There's no consideration here needed for dulling of knives like there is for a cutting board. Any opinions on adding the dowels? 3)Finishing-I have found recommendations for food grade mineral oil/butcher block oil, etc, but there are some brewers (read: NOT informed woodworkers) that insist on leaving the paddle without any finish, worried that the oil will affect the beer. This is contested among brewers, and seems potentially good for the beer but bad for keeping water out of a piece of wood that's constantly submerged in water. Any thoughts/alternatives for how to finish or "season" this piece before use? Thanks in advance for any replies and advice!