Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top Quality Wooden Heirloom Snowshoes

A pair of wooden heirloom quality snowshoes.

Over the years I have been making Native American Influenced Folk Art in the way of Dream Catchers, Gourd Rattles and Hand Drums. I also make a traditional wooden snowshoe using an old woodland Indian weaving pattern. This post is about the snowshoes I make.

These snowshoes are made of traditional Canadian white ash wooden frames and woven with a tubular nylon material that looks like rawhide when varnished, but is stronger, lighter and less susceptible to sunlight, rodents and moisture than rawhide. I do art work on these frames sometimes. Wood burning of Wolf, Bear or Bobcat and Mountain Lion tracks, woven beads into the webbing, paint schemes and inlaid stones are some of the ways I’ve made each pair of snowshoes unique. The pictures will show some examples of the decoration.

I’ve been making snowshoes for over twenty years. At first, I had jigs set up to bend the wood into the shape I needed. The ash would come in long one inch square sticks. I’d soak them in the lake by attaching a couple of large stones at each end and submersing them. I’d steam the wet wood in a long box made out of plywood. When pliable, I’d attach the frames to the jig and slowly bend the wood into shape and fasten the ends with rivets or nuts and bolts. This painstaking process was made much simpler when a couple of Canadian snowshoe frame manufacturers sold the assembled frames for far less than I could buy the raw wood.

So, this post is my one and only Etsy page, so to speak. If a pair of authentic heirloom quality snowshoes is of interest to you, or if you have any questions, let me know via e-mail. You can find the contact information on my profile. A pair of these fine showshoes make a very special gift to someone you admire. Each pair is one of a kind. Now you know what I do with some of my spare time. I don’t consider myself an artist. That’s for you to decide.

This is the text of the flyer I use:

Genuine Ojibway Style Snowshoes
Strong, Durable, Long Lasting
Beautiful Heirloom Quality

These are woodland snowshoes. Perfect for use in the woods or out in open country. The pointed toe moves brush and twigs to the side so you don’t get hung up. With the narrow front end, the wide part of the snowshoes “nest” together to allow you to take a more natural step. No more walking with your feet wide apart.

The Canadian ash wooden frames are durable and long lasting. The nylon webbing is also durable and has excellent breaking strength. Unlike rawhide, the nylon material doesn’t absorb moisture, so the webbing won’t stretch when you use the snowshoes in wet damp snow. The nylon is also impervious to the UV rays of the sun and the rodents don’t like nibbling on nylon like they tend to do with rawhide. When varnished, the snowshoes take on an amber glow and look just like rawhide lacing.

They come in three sizes. They are used according to your weight, not your shoe size. Bindings, sold separately, can adjust to any shoe or boot size. E-mail or call about sizes and prices.

Each pair of snowshoes comes varnished with 4-5 coats of exterior top quality spar varnish and can stand up to the extremes of cold and wetness. Maintenance might include a coat of varnish once every other year, depending on use.

Snowshoes can be decorated with paint, wood burned with wolf, bear or Bobcat and Mountain Lion tracks, for example. I can also weave beads into the webbing or inlay stones or gems into the wood. Wood burning can also include initials. All decorating is slightly extra. Some people buy snowshoes for decorating in a cabin or rustic theme in their home, or to personalize them in such a way as to make them a unique one-of-a-kind pair.


E-mail or call and tell me what you want. Plain pair of snowshoes without decoration art work or bindings start at $195.00. If they need to be shipped, remember, they are oversize and shipping via UPS or USPS is around $35.00 a pair to anywhere in the lower 48 United States. No Shipping or Handling charges for local pickup.

Bindings I sell are $40.00 per pair. I have to order them. They sell some cheaper ones at Cabella’s, Gander Mountain, Dick’s or Joe’s Sporting Goods. They also sell some that are more expensive. The kind I have are black neoprene straps and stay limp in very cold weather. The snow does not stick to neoprene like it does with leather bindings.

Any questions, Call me at (715) 209-0241 or E-mail

And here are some pictures:

Snow Camo. This pair made for a wintertime deer hunter in Minnesota.

One of my little helpers.

A set of frames painted and ready for webbing. The webbing was dipped in colors to match the paint and came out with a random pattern. This pair was given away as a silent auction item at a fund raiser.

Raw wooden frames partially laced.

Lacing complete and ready for varnish.

Wolf Tracks wood burned into the frames.

The varnishing process.

One coat of varnish applied. The snowshoes will darken and take on an amber glow a few weeks after the last coat of varnish is put on. I usually do five coats of varnish. This pair features Bear Tracks.

Done in Green Bay Packer colors for the ultimate football fan. I can do pretty much any team color combo.

Can't forget the Packer's logo.

Completed pair on display. Inlaid stone at the tip on this pair.

Another completed pair with bindings attached. The latest bindings are the same Neoprene material, but black in color like in the photo above, not red as shown.

Snowshoes I made for the Grand kids hung on the wall in my old shop in Ashland, WI, along with other craft work.

Hung and waiting for the varnish to dry between coats.

So there you have it. My sales pitch and humble bragging for this year. Well, I will do another post and feature some of the drums, rattles and dream catchers I make. I'll mention the coffee again too.

Joe Spado
(715) 209-0241


I, Like The View said...







you are one talented man, man

that is awesome

(I wish it snowed here and that I had woods to walk in. . .)(hey, maybe I could swap that lovely soft, long scarf you were after for a small dream catcher for my daughter?)(!)

Mel said...

*arrow up!*

What SHE said.



k....that's some very specialized talent you have, sir. Dunno how common you think this art is--but it's very much WOW material in my book....


Mel said...

Oh--and blessings to you and yours on this Thanksgiving holiday, sir.

This Eclectic Life said...

A. Mazing! Those are fabulous, Joe! I will wait to see drums and rattles, because here in Texas there is very little use for snowshoes. However, they would be wonderful just as artwork for the walls! Great job!

I hope your Thanksgiving is delightful!

Fran said...

Just stopping by to wish you a happy thanksgiving. Quite the craft/artwork with those snowshoes....
I have no need for them here in Western Oregon... maybe a canoe!
Anyway... hope all is well.

susan said...

I'm very impressed by the beautiful work. There's something timeless and magical in the idea of being in a place where they would be the best means of travel.

deb did it said...

this is beautiful work, the talent of a patient and strong hand.

stanleymorgan76 said...

these are great! could i ask you where you get all your lacing from?

Spadoman said...

Stanleymorgan76... Please e-mail me. My e-mail address can be found in my profile. I will tell you where you can get the nylon lacing.

Spadoman (joe)