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First time paddle maker

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by ticonderoga, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. ticonderoga

    ticonderoga "Just one more"

    I have restored my first canoe this past year and now want to make some padles to go with it. I have heard alot of talk about types of wood to use and there seems to be many opinions out there. It seems to be a matter of preference and a few trade offs. Durability vs. weight, ease of working vs. hardness, etc. So, for a beginner, what would be a good overall comprise for a first timer. My first attempt will be a one piece paddle nothing fancy for now. Thanks
     
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    A good resource for just about everything you need to know about making paddles is this book, available here at the WCHA store:
    http://store.wcha.org/Canoe-Paddles-A-Complete-Guide-to-Making-Your-Own.html
    There's a good discussion RE: pros & cons of different woods, and different ways to build them.

    I'll suggest that the particular variety of wood for a first paddle is more dependent on what you want the paddle to look like, rather than any features of the wood itself. Maybe choose a wood that matches the canoe's trim? Cherry & walnut make fairly lightweight paddles that look great, but the wood costs more than ash or spruce... which also make nice-looking paddles. All of these are fairly easy to work, as opposed to hard maple, for instance. I'd avoid basswood -- it's very lightweight, but doesn't hold varnish well, so it needs a lot of maintenance. Many of the paddles that I rehab for people are basswood, and the lack of maintenance really takes its toll on their appearance.

    It's very important to keep your cutting tools very sharp, whether they're hand or power tools. I bought extra irons for my spokeshaves, so I can keep working when I'm on a roll, and stop to sharpen when I choose, rather than when the tools need sharpening. Whatever works for you...

    By all means, post questions, and pictures, too... we lke pictures of paddles as much as we like pictures of canoes...
     
  3. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    Paul's point on sharp tools (pun intended) is critical. I would add pay close attention to grain runout as you're working the shaft and it will likely change over the length. Cut with the grain, not against it or you'll have to deal with ugly tearout. You'll probably have to change directions several times as you work the length and different sides. If you feel the spokeshave start to dig in, simply reverse the direction you're working in that particular area.
     
  4. Mike Everett

    Mike Everett Maine Canoeist

    I'd advise a beginner to start with spruce. It's cheap and easy to work.

    I'd select a couple of the clearest six-foot 2X8's at my local lumber yard. (First, learn to tell spruce from fir.) Ought to cost about $7 bucks apiece.

    Trace a finished paddle onto the plank and cut the paddle blank with a saber saw. Using hatchet, draw knife, plane, surform, or sharp rock, trim to suit.

    If you mess up, no great harm done.
     

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