The Idiots guide to making a paddle
Step1 Getting your wood
1.Decide on the type of paddle you want to make, Beaver tail, Ottertail, Algonquin etc…
2. Decide your wood, Cherry, Walnut, and Ash etc…
3. Decide the length, best to know this before you get the wood as it’s no good bringing home a plank a couple of inches too short.
4. Resource your wood. Ie: local hardwood suppliers or take Don up on his offer.
5, Choosing your plank. You know the length; the wide of board will depend on the model of paddle you are making. For example, a Beaver tail will need to be approx 8 ½” wide and an Algonquin 5 ½” wide board. Thickness should not be less than 11/8” but remember the thicker the board the more work there is to plane it down.
Look for a board without knots and with a straight grain running along the thickness. Make sure the board is straight and not bowed.
6 Pay the man and take it home.
Step 2 Marking Out
1 Copy your design onto the board. This can be from drawing around an existing paddle, a cardboard or thin MDF template made from a plan.
2 Use a bandsaw or jig saw to cut out the shape.
3 Plane to lines the whole way round the paddle
4 Mark centre lines from template. This helps check the paddle is true. I don’t always run theses lines all the way along as you’ll be putting in another eight lines along the shaft and it can become confusing.
Putting the centre around the edge of the blade this is the most important line as it’s used to reduce the blade to size. Once on.. Don’t lose it
5 Mark shaft stop point on blade just beyond throat. I do this to stop me reducing the shaft at the throat. On this Algonquin paddle the shaft and blade are a similar size at the throat.
Step 3 The Work begins
1 Plane the blade to just thicker than required.
Don’t plane to the finished thickness at this stage as it will be easily damaged while working from blade to handle
2 Mark out and shape handle using spoke shave belt sander and course sand paper. You can see from the photo what has to be removed. The belt sander is ideal for this. Shape the top of the handle using a spoke shave and sandpaper
3 Mark in octagonal lines on shaft. The easiest way to do this is mark all the right side lines first then without altering your finger on the pencil turn the paddle over and mark the left side lines. You should have 8 lines running the length of the shaft, two on each side.
Step 4 The Work Continues
1 Start to reduce blade to required thickness with spoke shave. You should be taking the blade nearly to the lines Sanding will complete the job. You should have a slight curve in the blade, it being slightly thicker along the centre. It should also the a little thicker across the tip
2 Using spoke shave, plane to the octagonal lines on the shaft lines. Your shaft should now have eight flat sides
3 Blend blade and shaft together. Do the same at the handle. This will start to round the shaft at both ends.
4 Using a spoke shave start to round the shaft by taking the edges of the octagonal edges
6 Continue to blend blade and shaft together, do the same at the handle
5 Sand the shaft to make it “round” It should be approx an inch in wide and 1 1/8 deep towards the throat. From the photo you can see two methods of checking the size. I have to say most of my shafts are approx an inch round the whole way.
5 Move up the grit of paper used to get a smooth finish
6 Make sure that all scratches and marks are removed; the cabinet scraper is useful at this point.
Step 5 Seeing the finish
1 Continue to sand. I usually move from blade, shaft and handle as I do this moving up the grit until the all are smooth and scratch free.
Step 6 The Finish
1 Wash with spirit
2 Apply a liberal coat of Danish oil and allow to dry and buff
3 Apply more oil, allow dry buff, oil, allow dry, buff until your happy with the result
4 Pick a paddle and go paddling