I got to thinking (not a totally unique experience!) about the way the paddle is attached to the handle. I was afraid that the back and forth motion of stirring the apple butter might loosen the mortice and tenon to the point of failure. I discussed this with my blacksmithing/woodworking buddies and they agreed. Plus, many of the pictures I found on a Google search had a diagonal brace from the paddle to the handle. Because of my concerns, I went back to the shop – this time the blacksmith shop – and forged a brace. Now I feel confident the stirrer will hold up for many seasons of apple butter stirring.

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