Shop Projects – Wok paddle


I recently transitioned from a flat to a round bottom wok, and in doing so I found that I didn’t have a good utensil to work with the round bottom. Flat edged utensils bridged over the contour, while of my non-flat utensils were of too small a radius to be effective beyond a single point. Luckily, I had a nice slab of firewood left over from my resaw sled trial that looked like it had a wok paddle hiding in it.

The first step was to use my other utensils to identify how thick I wanted the handle, then resaw a piece a touch thicker than that. Next was to identify the proper radius for the bottom of the wok, for which I used a variety of objects before finding that a bin lid was the best match. Once that information was available, I shifted over to the piece of wood, marked off the major things I wanted to avoid such as cracks and knots, then used the bin lid to draw a base curve before sketching in the rest of the shape. I find that I tend to hold utensils at a slight angle, so I angled the handle to try and match that in order to maximize the contact area while using it.

After marking it was back over to the bandsaw to rough out the shape. First was the flat sawing, during which I let the sides of the paddle flow into the overall shape as I cut freehand. Once that was complete I beveled the working edges, then used the router and belt / disk sander to complete shaping and smoothing the shape. It’s worth mentioning that I took the wok into the shop and noted how I held the paddle while using it in order to add some finger grip indentations at appropriate places, as well as refined the shape of the bottom and side edges of the pane.. After raising the grain a final hand sanding was done before giving it a walnut oil finish.

All in all it was a fairly quick project which yielded a paddle custom made for the specific wok and user.

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