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How To Build A Beer or Whisky Flight Paddle

How To Build A Beer or Whisky Flight Paddle

In this video, I build a beer flight paddle from redwood and hard maple. If you're looking for a good item to sell at craft fairs, this is a great option.

Don't know what a beer flight paddle is? If you've been to a craft brewery recently, you're almost guaranteed to have seen one. They're used to serve a sampler of different beers in small glasses, usually holding less than 5 oz of beer. Here's a link to the glasses we used in the thumbnail photo. The whisky industry has also started using these types of paddles for whisky flights. Generally, the serving size is smaller and the price higher than beer flights.

Either way, they make a great gift for the craft beer or whisky lover in your life. If you're planning to use the paddle for whisky, I'd recommend using a different type of glass. A Glencairn glass is my favorite whisky glass and would be perfect for this.

If you're planning on selling a beer flight paddle at a craft fair, I would include the glasses. If you do, you can probably look to get around $60 per beer flight paddle set, depending on your area. Considering the low cost of the project, that makes this a perfect item for craft fairs. Also, contact some local breweries and see if they'd be willing to support a local artist's work by purchasing a few! With that, let's get on to the build.

Tools Used In Beer Flight Paddle Build

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Beer Flight Paddle Build Process

I had this piece of old redwood my dad gave me recently. In a previous life, this redwood served as fencing for one of my dad’s neighbors about 20 years ago. I had no idea what the wood would look like beneath all of the wear. I started by milling it up on the planer and jointer to remove all of the aged faces of the wood and get it square on four sides. This revealed some beautiful wood underneath.

After the piece was squared up, I ripped ¾” strips on the table saw. The width you rip your strips at will depend on the size of your piece. I wanted to squeeze out as many strips as I could from this one piece. After ripping the redwood, I took some scrap pieces of hard maple and did the same, ripping them into ¾” strips.

Once I felt like I had enough strips, I started to arrange them and really liked the way they looked. The contrast of the colors between the redwood and maple looks great. Next, I cut off the ends of the redwood, which also showed some age. After cleaning up the ends, I set my miter saw stop block to 14 ½” and cut pieces from the strips. A stop block on the miter saw really helps with this. I just kept cutting 14 ½” pieces until I ran out of strips.

I arranged the strips in the order I wanted them to be in the final pieces, and then glued them up. This style of parallel bar clamp really helps on this kind of glue up. It keeps the bottom flat so that you don’t loose a lot of material to flattening after the glue up. Also, it helps to wipe away the excess glue with a wet paper towel, since it will be a lot more difficult to remove once it’s dried.

After the glue dried, I removed the clamps and ran the bottom of the piece over the jointer, taking just a touch of material off (just enough to get it perfectly flat). After that, I ran the piece through the planer with the flat surface down, which served as the reference surface. You don’t really need to worry about squaring up the edges or ends, as those will be removed at the router table.

Next, I worked on making the template for the flight paddles. I want to be able to make these to sell at local craft fairs and on my website, and a template allows me to make them over and over again efficiently. If you only want to make one flight paddle, you could definitely skip making the template and just draw your lines right on your work piece. I measured in ¾” from each long edge and 4” from the end, and marked those lines. These lines represent where I’ll remove the material for the handle. I also drew a curve on each side, connecting the lines to the edge.

After that, I marked the center line of the template and then did some math to figure out the proper spacing for the holes for the flight glasses. I’m using a 2” Forstner bit for the holes, and I had roughly 10” from the end of the handle to the end of the paddle. That left me with 2” total for spacing between the glasses, and I needed five spaces, one between each glass and one on each end. 2” divided by 5 is roughly ⅜”, so that’s what I used as spacing between the glasses.

I marked ⅜” from the handle, then added 2” for the glass, then added another ⅜”, added another 2”, and so on. I marked the center of each of the 2” areas and drew that line across the paddle. Where the center line of the paddle and center line of the 2” area met is where I needed to drill my holes. I also added one more mark at one end of the paddle for a hole to hang the flight paddle.

After getting all my holes marked, I went to the drill press and drilled some small holes. These are just reference holes, so that you can transfer the hole placement to the work piece so you don’t have to do all of the layout work on every paddle.

Next, I went to the bandsaw and removed the bulk of the waste from the handle cutouts. After that, I went the oscillating spindle sander / belt sander and sanded to my lines. I also rounded all of the sharp corners. Basically, this is where you’ll finalize the shape of your paddle, so you can do whatever you like here.

After finalizing my shape, I transferred the handle lines to the work piece and cutaway the excess waste at the bandsaw. I then taped the template to the workpiece using carpet tape and used a ¾” template bit to remove the waste. Next, I drilled the holes for the flight glasses using a 2” Forstner bit. I set the depth of my hole to about ¼”. Next, I rounded over the edges of the paddle using a ⅛” radius roundover bit. Finally, I drilled the hole in the handle, which can be used to hang the paddle.

I then cleaned up the holes from the Forstner bit with some 120 grit sandpaper. I might try to find a better, cleaner way to create these holes, as the Forstner bit left a lot of cleanup for me. The bit was brand new, so I think I just need to experiment with the RPM speed on the drill press. After cleaning up the holes, I sanded the entire piece using 220 grit sandpaper. I didn’t want to remove so much material that the roundover would be effected, and the jointer and planer left a smooth surface, so there weren’t many tool marks to remove.

I finished the beer flight paddle with spray lacquer, sanding with 320 grit sandpaper between coats. On the first coat, I applied finish with the handle sitting on my workbench, but then I realized I could stick a coat hanger through the hole in the handle and have easy access to all sides of the paddle. I applied three coats in total, sanding with 320 grit sandpaper between each coat, and it was done.

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