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Thread: The Idiots Guide to Paddle Making

  1. #1
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    Default The Idiots Guide to Paddle Making

    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
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 17th-February-2006 at 02:06 PM.

  2. #2
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    Fantastic tutorial. I will be in B & Q this weekend for sure.

    This is going on the main site for sure.

  3. #3
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    Thats good, one less excuse for not making your own paddle.

    Many thanks for the tutorial

    MickT
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  4. #4

    Default

    Great tutorial. Thanks.

    I am tempted to have a go but it might end up as sawdust and firewood.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc
    I am tempted to have a go but it might end up as sawdust and firewood.
    Thats no excuse. You can never have too much sawdust or firewood

  6. #6

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    Well, at least you'll be able to look forward to a roaring cherrywood and walnut fire. Possibly not the most economical form of heating.

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    Fantastic tutorial.

    I'll have to give it a go. Was looking to get a new paddle, guess I'll get new wood instead
    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  8. #8

    Talking

    Nice tutorial Garetine! I am not too sure about using B&Q kiln dried timber though Magikelly!

  9. #9
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    This could help with choosing the wood you need.
    >> http://www.blazingpaddles.ca/tips/pa...index.htm#wood

    Whats the difference between B&Q wood and everyone elses besides the way it is dried??
    Does this really matter as long as the grain runs the right way would it be ok?? as it seems to be the sort place most Folks would be buying their wood from.

    MickT
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  10. #10
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    I have doubts about whether B & Q will have the right wood. I am not sure there is a big demand for 30mm thick cherry or mahogany planks. Still wont know till I look.

    Might need a jigsaw and a belt sander though Oh and sandpaper for sure.

  11. #11

    Talking

    The problem is twofold, one the actual quality of the timber, which is often full of shakes, knots, and splits. Secondly the kiln drying is a force drying process, which causes warping, splits, etc.
    Kiln drying basically "Traumatizes" wood and causes it to react badly, as it recovers over a period of time.
    As paddles are inevitably given some kind of waterproofing in the form of oil, wax or P.U. varnish, this further compounds the problem, as the timber cannot breathe, to recover its proper moisture content, this leads to brittle paddles with no action.

  12. #12
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    Default Paddle making

    hi Folks,
    No chance of getting the right wood at B&Q. You need to go to a hardwood suppliers. It's unlikely you would even get it at your local timber merchants.
    Look up timber suppliers/merchants in your local yellow pages. Then find one who deals in HARD WOOD. that's were you'll get the right stuff. Cherry, Ash. Walnut....... Try poplar, it's really easy worked for a first attempt.
    Pete

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    Yep no good wood at B & Q. I have a piece of pine / cedar with the right grain and few knots so I might try it as a sample but chances are by the time I get round to it I will have a proper piece from a timber merchant.

    Got a jigsaw and belt sander from Makro for £20 each. Not exactly top of the range but should do the job.

  14. #14

    Default It Works!

    Hi

    Thursday week ago I took a day off work and spent six hours with gartine and his trusty accomplice. I'm a complete wood working novice (apart from a brief fling with a stitch and tape open boat about 10 years ago).

    A further 7 hours of sanding and shaving later - I put the first four coats of danish oil on my lovely new algonquin paddle this weekend.

    I am really delighted with the result - if I can do it anyone can! Bought paddles are simply not in the same league.

    With regard to tools, as an absolute minimum you need a good hand plane and a spoke shave. A scraper is also very useful. All of this costs less than a quality one piece paddle.

  15. #15

    Default It Works!

    Forgot to mention two important points.

    1. My plank of ash cost less than £4.

    2. Make friends with someone who owns a band saw.

  16. #16
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    Talking It works,

    Must tell everyone that your paddle really is a thing of beauty, the wood pattern is awesome. I saw it just before the oiling stage on Saturday, can't wait to see the finished job.
    PS. there is a stewards inquiry over the ownership of the plank you used. I hope the pattern on the remaining plank will suit Mark OK, if not, he may turn it into a baseball bat......and come looking for you.
    Pete

  17. #17
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    This's probably your best bet for local hardwood planking John.
    http://www.aitkenhoward.co.uk/introduction.htm
    More exotic timber than you can shake a warehouse full of big sticks at.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grooveski
    This's probably your best bet for local hardwood planking John.
    http://www.aitkenhoward.co.uk/introduction.htm
    More exotic timber than you can shake a warehouse full of big sticks at.
    Might help if they had their address on the web site. still easy enough to phone them.

    I was hoping to find somewhere near enough to work to pop round at lunch time.

  19. #19
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    They're at the start of Auchincarron Road in Jamestown, second road on the right after you pass the iron bridge if you're heading north.
    They don't open weekends unfortunately, just remembered I was on a day off when I went there.
    You'd probably find Ash at most sawmills, you just wouldn't get the same range of exotics to choose from.

    Aitken and Howard is a strange kind of place, take a saw if you go as they'll sell short lengths but aren't keen on cutting it for you. I got what I was after delivered to my guitar-building buddy who's been buying off them for donkeys years, they were happy enough to cut it for him.

    To be honest, I didn't see a dodgy bit of wood in their racks. Grain orientation won't be quite as vital as for bows so it may be worth just calling them and asking if they'll deliver a couple of lengths to you.
    Hit them with the dimensions, a couple of wood choices, tell them what it's for and see what they say.
    I'd ask for it plain sawn, it'd just be force of habit though .



    [Edit - Sorry, just re-read the guide, gartine say's plain sawn too]
    Last edited by Grooveski; 20th-February-2006 at 05:54 PM.

  20. #20
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    >> http://www.jeanburhouse.com/default.asp

    Another one maybe

    >> http://www.ashs.co.uk/PageAccess.aspx?id=1

    Look at the Suppliers map on the website.

    MickT
    Last edited by bothyman; 20th-February-2006 at 06:04 PM. Reason: another link
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  21. #21
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    Default

    Hot ashs link bothyman, nice one.

  22. #22

    Default

    and here's a few I made a while ago

    No, I cheated...... got these off evilbay from the US:



    a nice pair of Langford 54" ottertails in walnut/cherry/softwood, with solid glass tips


    a pair of 57" voyageur style paddles, not sure about these but at $25 [£15] I could'nt pass 'em up

    lastly a 48" beavertail [?] in ash - nice paddle but quite heavy

    With shipping the whole lot set me back around £90.

    Some serious testing to find which ones I like the most over the next few weeks.

    I'm intending to try and make the lake district meet. If anyone wants some wood let me know and I'll bring some with me.
    Last edited by Obscured by Clouds; 20th-February-2006 at 08:04 PM.
    Obscured by Clouds

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  23. #23
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    Default Choosing wood

    Hi Folks,
    I should have added in the choosing your wood section of the guide.... Make very good friends with the folk who work in the yard. You can spend up to a couple of hours choosing a few planks to take home. Timber yards will have wood piled all over the place and getting to that plank that looks just right can be a lot of work for the forklift driver. Explain to him what you looking for and why it has to be just right. These guys are shifting tons of wood for customers daily and your single plank sometimes can be more a bother than it's worth to him. So Keep him happy.
    Even when it looks right, no cracks or knots or bends. You've got as far as cutting it out and have spent an hour taking it down, you can find hidden cracks or holes. So it's back to that nice man in the forklift again, who you hope won't run and hide.
    Pete

  24. #24
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    Default

    So the grain orientation is as important. Great, more searching for that perfect board! I don't think they really exist, got fed up looking before and went and cut down a tree instead .

    May try something like the first pair in Don Renoldo's post. Not having a band saw a glue-up would be more within reach for a first attempt. The leftover ash stave from the aforementioned tree would likely make a nice core section too.

  25. #25
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    Default Paddle length

    As a rule of thumb when choosing a paddle I kneel down and stretch my arm out at rightangles to my body and the throat of an upside down paddle is level with my hand. (it works for me)

    In Don's photos it seems he ordered different lenghts in each blade type. I intend to make a beavertail and currently use a 62" paddle, (I'm 6'4" tall)

    What length should I make the beavertail? Does it need to be shorter than my normal one shown below?


  26. #26

    Default

    I think 'ordered' would mean I thought about it ... No these were the lengths quoted on ebay and they were so cheap I decided to bid on a range... and won the lot!

    The beavertail is actually 58" [misprint but I can't go back and edit] it's my favourite, but it might be too heavy at around 24 - 30 oz.
    The Langfords are a lot lighter.
    The voyageurs need to be finessed, the finish is poor and the profiling of both the shafts and blades are 'rough'

    all in all though they were still a bargain, and with enough variety for me to decide which I like the most.
    Obscured by Clouds

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  27. #27
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    You sometimes find quite cheep wooden paddles. they feel all wrong but could anything be done to make them into good paddles?

    shave a bit off in the right place add a bit of epoxy etc

    or is it down to the initial choice of wood?
    Rogue

  28. #28

    Default

    I would say that if they 'feel wrong' it could be the balance / dimensioning / finish that is at fault [although to whoever made them they may feel good]. In that case a session with a spokeshave, hooked knife and sandpaper might improve things.

    as for poor choice of wood, I suspect that it might have fallen apart before too long if it was that bad. Not having much experience in paddle making I'd go with perceived wisdom of having a soft wood for lightness, with a hard wood for strength and durability - which entails glue-lam. Solid softy wood paddles [like poplar] will either be light and relatively short lived and hardwoods [like the ash] stronger, heavier and usually longer lasting.

    Obviously if you have a paddle made from lignum-vitae you will have a hernia within a few hours..........
    Obscured by Clouds

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  29. #29
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    Default Does size matter?

    Hi Al,
    If you look at the photo of the paddles I've made you'll see they are all different sizes ranging from beavertails at 63 1/2", 66 1/2" for the beartail/ottertail cross we designed ourselves and the Algonquins are 70" All are 39 1/2" from handle to throat. These seem perfect for me at 6'5"
    Pete

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    Default Length

    Thanks for the info Garetine,
    mine is also 39.5" to the throat so I will keep it the same. The guy in McGreggor's suggested using Emri instead of Poplar as it had the same properties, but a nicer grain when finnished. Any thoughts on this?

    Alan.

  31. #31
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    Default Wood

    I have to admit I only used Poplar because there was a large plank at hand that I could get two paddles from. The one I've finished looks ok, maybe a little pale, the other is at the sanding stage so it's hard to tell. It really is a nice wood to work with but Ash will look better. I've never heard of Emri ???
    Pete

  32. #32

    Default

    Lots of good info about paddle construction. The tutorial is very well done. I have a few tibits of info to add that might be helpful.

    If you can get it, black cherry is the wood I prefer among all others.

    There's an illustartion in this thread illustrating the difference between plain sawn and quarter sawn. A paddle made from a plain sawn plank is more likely to warp than one made from a quarter sawn plank BUT the quarter sawn plank is more likely to split than one from a plain sawn plank. Shaft strength will be a little greater for the quarter sawn plank especially if the grain wanders a bit along the shaft. Wood being wood though, the above is a generalization and no guarantee that the specific board you get will follow the pattern. Also keep in mind that more boards will be cut off axis than at the 90 degree orientation that will produce perfect quarter plain sawn boards. There's one photo of the blade end of the paddle in the tutorial where you can see a perfect arc in the grain indicating that one came from the "sweet" spot in the log. Some of the best solid wood paddles I've got come from woods that have a grain pattern which is a bit burled. These are stronger and less likely to warp or split. A plank that's cut either too close to the pith of the log or too close to the bark will be more problem than one that comes about 2/3 of the way out from center. You can get a sense of that by looking at the end grain but you can't be sure without knowing the diameter of log it came from.

    I usually make paddles in much the same way illustrated in the tutorial. If you have access to a router, it can come in handy. I like to use that to cut some channels around the edges of the blade and across the bottom of the tip on both sides while it's at full thickness. I use these to establish a reference point that's a bit thicker than the final thickness of the blade. By using the router, I can guarantee that my blade will be more uniform and perfectly centered as I'll only be taking off a small amount beyond the routered channels which I can see as I work the thickness of the blade down to size.

  33. #33
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    Default Paddle Making

    The most important tools in paddle making are a pencil and a good measuring stick. I have used a number of different tools. I have used a band saw but prefer the jig saw as it is easier to control. I have also made real quick and dirty paddles on trips with an axe and a knife. That’s fun too but now I don’t lend my spares!
    The most important thing is sizing your paddle, I have heard a lot of ways to determine paddle length but the one that works best for me is measuring the distance between the elbows when the arms are up and bent at 90 degrees. So if you are holding your paddle above your head with your arms bent at perfect right angles one hand on the grip and one hand on the shaft at the throat; that is the measurement you need to be concerned with. Blades are all different lengths so they will all produce different length paddles. Most experts agree that if you are a stern paddler you should make your shaft an inch or two longer as well.
    The next thing is what kind of wood to use? You have to ask; what is the paddle to be used for? A Sunday best show piece can be made from walnut or cherry, a tripping paddle or wilderness paddle should be of much stouter wood such as maple, birch or ash. I once took a walnut paddle on a wilderness trip and broke it about an hour into the trip with no spare. Since then I only use ash paddles in the wilderness; it is about the best for rough conditions. Maple is also a tough wood but it can be heavy and it splits at the tip no matter how well you take care of it. Birch is a good wood but it can be hard to work. I have recently started experimenting with imported eucalyptus. It is a bit heavy but it is harder than the hubs of hell and can be made into super thin touring paddles. I did however burn up a jigsaw cutting out my first eucalyptus paddle blank. Cedar, Poplar, and spruce can also make good paddles but have to be made thicker. I would be interested in trying a piece of Yew but it doesn’t grow here in Canada.
    I always finish my paddles with a combination of Linseed and Tung oils. The oil is heated to just about boiling and then applied liberally all over the paddle. Do this outside though because 5 out of 6 times the oil catches fire, you just cover it to put it out again. After applying the hot oil I wait 20 or 30 minutes (depending on the temperature outside) adding more oil to any dry spots, usually end grain or the tip. After that short wait I wipe it down thoroughly then wipe on and off a second and sometimes a third coat. With this process you will never get a blister, but you have to oil the whole paddle frequently to maintain it.


    On a trip off the New brunswick Coast to a deserted island I managed to break a paddle then had to construct one from a piece of driftwood. It was treated 2X6 so it didnt have dry rot like most of the driftwood


    Without much for tools I knocked out a rough paddle with a saw, an axe and a small knife


    It didn't have to be pretty it just had to get me home


    Let me tell you, modern tools are a lot less tiring, especially for thinning down the paddle blade


    Ash Paddles from the workshop in various stages


    Experimental Eucalyptus paddles from the shop

  34. #34

    Default

    Just a couple of comments about WhyAyeMan's post - not to disagree because the information is good, just providing a different perspective.

    I usually use a cherry wood paddle on all my trips - including long wilderness trips in the arctic. In addition to the cherry paddle, I'll bring a paddle made with plastic and aluminum for use in rough conditions but the cherry paddle is the one used most of the time. I prefer the characteristics of cherry over any of the other woods. If you're going to break a paddle, it could happen anywhere. If you've done a good job in selecting the piece of wood by carefully examining the grain structure, chances are it won't break even with hard use. The key is to look for grain strudture that will perfectly parallel to the shaft of the paddle and there should be no hint of small knots or anything that might make the grain wander away a bit from true. If the tree used for the paddle came from inside a mature hardwood canopy, chances are it will have a straight grain free of obstructions. If the tree came from the edge of the forest, there's a much better chance it didn't grow thin, straight and tall. Once the tree is run through the saw mill, it makes it hardet to tell if the plank came from a straight tree. The only way to determine it is to carefully inspect the grain. That's harder to do with rough sawn lumber, so it's not a bad idea to run a hand plane over the surface to make it easier to inspect grain. The one big draw back to ash is that it is very porous in the summer growth ring and very dense in the winter growth. That can lead to a delamination problem if you don't keep the wood protected all the time - might be difficult to do that on long trips if you like to use the gunnel for leverage in your strokes. The paddle can weaken as it softens with water absorbed into the summer growth ring. Regardless of what you have, make sure you test it with hard use at home before you take it on a long wilderness trip.

    As for the length of paddle, that will be different depending on how you use it. As a Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association master instructor, I supose I might qualify as an expert. My opinion differs from the one provided in WhyAyeMan's post, I usually suggest the stern paddle is a bit short than a bow paddle. What's more important than where you're sitting however is how you hold the paddle. People who've spent time figuring out how to gain the best mechanical advantage from their paddle usually wind up holding their paddle with the lower hand a little higher up on the shaft than people who've spent a lot of time paddling on trips. If you're the kind of person who grips the shaft higher up, you won't want as long a paddle. Bottom line is that the paddle needs to feel comfortable for the user - arbitrary "rules" about what should be correct can only serve as a rough guide. As technique improves, paddlers often find that what felt good earlier on doesn't feel as good later. Don't get hung up on assuming there's only one "perfect" size of paddle. Your preference could easily change over time. My quick and dirty method for picking a paddle is to rest the tip on the ground and place both hands flat on top of the grip. If there's just enough room to rest my chin on the top hand by lowering my chin just a tad, that's the "right" height for me. Not very scientific but it works for me.

    Hope that's of some help.

  35. #35
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    Default

    I've been making paddles for 30 years. I always use basswood or white cedar - as they make the lightest paddles. I've never broken one of these paddles, though I have managed to break a number of store bought paddles.

    Paddles usually break on the throat of the shaft. I make them a little thicker of an ovoid there at a 90 degree angle to the paddle blade.

    The other spot you have trouble with paddles is the bit of the blade. For river paddles, I use a little #4 glass and resin, about an inch high, on the bit. Lake paddles I just leave natural.

    To make paddles at home I cut them out on the bandsaw or sabre saw and take them down with a drawknife. On the trail I look for a split cedar and I use a hand axe and a crooked knife.

    Reason I started with the cedar and basswood paddles - I noticed all old Ojibwe paddles were made from these woods. Makes for much less tiresome paddling.
    The perfect canoe -
    Like a leaf on the water

  36. #36

    Default Paddle patterns

    Just read through this thread after reading the article on the main site and I feel inspired to have a go. I'm just curious, is there anywhere I can get patterns from (On-line free patterns would be nice) or is it a case of guess-timating from photos. I'm quite happy with shaft and grip it's more blade design I'm after.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedi Paddler View Post
    Just read through this thread after reading the article on the main site and I feel inspired to have a go. I'm just curious, is there anywhere I can get patterns from (On-line free patterns would be nice) or is it a case of guess-timating from photos. I'm quite happy with shaft and grip it's more blade design I'm after.
    If you are interested I can send you a few blade area formulas and a little tutorial on making your own patterns from them. Send me a PM.
    Lloyd

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...


  38. #38

    Default

    This is the best book I've seen on paddle making, think one of the authors is from your side...
    http://www.amazon.com/Canoe-Paddles-...ion/1552095258

    I've made over a hundred paddles. I've busted every softwood paddle i've had, snapped the shafts, and even a few hardwood ones. Basswood has never worked for me either, except in the blades. I'm an "ash" man....oh yes, and a birch man too. Many of the ojibway around here used birch for a lot of their technologies. It is an easy wood to work with and has one of the highest strength ratios of any of the hardwoods.

    Anyway, their are several patterns in Warren and Gidmark's book, and lots of solid instruction.

  39. #39
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    Talking

    Was it a book? If so what was the name of the book as I've always wanted to make my own paddle.

  40. #40

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    Best book out there is "Canoe Paddles - A Complete Guide to Making Your Own" by Graham Waren and David Gidmark.

  41. #41
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    Hi Siddyboy,
    Have a look at this article I done for the site a while ago http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/paddle_making.htm

    Here's a paddle I made last week, took me about 8 hrs at a cost of £8.25. It's solid ASH


  42. #42

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    Where did you find Ash for that price?
    The cheapest I have been quoted for Ash is £10 per sq foot, as with most of the higher quality woods that I would like to use. e.g. enough red cedar to make a pddle was quotedt at £50.

    p.s. more photos will be available soon, web connection issues at home

  43. #43
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    Hello Duckman

    Nice to see paddles with Northwoods grips instead of the usual ones.
    It seems a few of us make our own paddles.
    I just keep my eyes open for a suitable piece of wood, at the moment I have my eye on a pile of wood a friend has at the side of his house as it looks like there could be a couple of decent paddles amongst it.
    Why do paddles always seem better when you have scrounged the wood they are made of.

    MickT
    Last edited by bothyman; 19th-January-2007 at 01:04 PM. Reason: spelling
    It'll be right, trust me, I'm a Yorkshireman.



    ::>>> I'd rather be lucky, than good.

  44. #44
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    McGregor Bros Belfast.... It's good quality wood. I've also bought Walnut and Cherry from them, both working out under £15 a paddle

  45. #45

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    Well, thats a disappointment, cos I won't be going to belfast to buy some wood, unless in bulck, and I'm starting up properly. I would also like to start making my own boats, again just as a hoby, are there any books/free web sites anyone would recomend?

    As promissed the dodgy connection is doing it's best, and here are a few more pictures.
    Last edited by Duckman; 21st-January-2007 at 09:30 AM.

  46. #46
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    Nice looking grip. I find it the hardest thing to get right when making paddles

  47. #47

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    Yep, I always leave it till last, one to balance the padle, and two cos it's a pain to get the right shape and big enough to feel good when using it.

  48. #48
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    Default Timber

    Hi Duckman,

    Great paddles! If I had the money I would have taken one - unfortunately outfitting canoe has seen resource plumet.

    Sorry to take this thread off line a bit more but if looking for good quality hardwoods try Danny Frost in the northern lakes. Prices are:

    http://www.dannyfrost.co.uk/dannyfrost.htm

    Dannys set up is great as he aonly uses tiber that has come from windblown trees or those needing to be felled for safety reasons, and he insures more are planted in its place than came out originally. But this does mean that all wood types are not alwyas in stock - although with recent gales its a good bet they are in stock!! He will also cut timber to set legnths, designs etc... if provided technical drawings (for a fee!).

    Sorry again for going off line.

    Pete
    Lakeland Pete


  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by memaquay View Post
    Best book out there is "Canoe Paddles - A Complete Guide to Making Your Own" by Graham Waren and David Gidmark.

    I'm just curious if anyone owns Graham Warren's first book on paddle making, "Making Canoe Paddles in Wood," and if you think it is worth getting. I've got the book above and am wondering if the first book has any information the second book doesn't. Thanks.

  50. #50
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    Default home made paddles

    Following the excelent instructions on SOTP i whittled these. Ash cost 15 pounds for a plank big enough for 2 paddles from a sawmill in coney weston, suffolk, had to buy a belt sander for 40 pounds, borrowed a planer, spent 4/5 happy hours in shed and finished with 6 coats of danish oil.. very satisfying and a bargain as I think a similar paddle bought would cost around £70.

    I would encourage anyone to have a go, it was much easier than I thought and I am not the best craftsman in the world.
    sorry can't do pictures it seems.. they look great though.
    Last edited by philmate; 3rd-February-2007 at 04:51 PM. Reason: found how to put in pics

  51. #51
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    Default Oil or Varnish?

    I'm just about finished whittling an ash/basswood laminated paddle and was going to varnish it. The Basswood seems quite soft and my thoughts were that varnish would help protect it.
    Having read through this thread I am now wondering whether to oil it - seems a lot easier. Any thoughts?

  52. #52
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    Varnish the blade oil the shaft.
    Lloyd

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...


  53. #53
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    oil and lots of it in thin coats...............varnish has no place on a handmade paddle
    Pete

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by garetine View Post
    oil and lots of it in thin coats...............varnish has no place on a handmade paddle
    Pete
    All excellent stuff!

    Like the oiled look on a paddle but when the shaft is wet, I don't like the way the lower hand grips, instead of slipping. Whereas with varnish stays the same, beit dry or wet. So I'd go with varnish for the whole.

    TGB
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyAyeMan View Post
    Varnish the blade oil the shaft.
    Quote Originally Posted by garetine View Post
    oil and lots of it in thin coats...............varnish has no place on a handmade paddle
    Quote Originally Posted by TGB View Post
    So I'd go with varnish for the whole.
    Well that clears that up then

  56. #56
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    Varnishing the whole thing protects the wood the most but maintenance is a pain. The varnished shaft give terrible blisters on anything but a 40 minute trip.

    Leaving the paddle all natural and oiling frequently is most popular as there are no blister issues, it looks the best and maintenance is easy although needed more often.

    Varnish on the blade and oil the shaft is the pragmatic compromise solution. Especially of a laminated paddle. You do not have the blister issue and the blade finish is a bit more robust. Maintenance is now however a two step issue.

    Everything is a trade off.
    Lloyd

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...


  57. #57
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    Default Epoxy resin

    Thanks for the replies, how to choose?! I'm keen to get a nice finish but hope my sculptured cricket bat will last for more than a couple trips

    Another thing I'd thought was to soak the tip in a thin expoxy resin - I've done this on wooden sailingboat foils all over as a quick and resilient finish. Doing the whole paddle would be a bit heavy but maybe dip an inch or so of the tip and oil the rest?

  58. #58
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    Default Paddles

    I have read through most of the above and although I would agree with the various reasons for the selection of a 'decent' piece of timber. I really don't think that if the shaft of your paddle has a slight twist or bend in it you would ever notice.
    I just used the Ash at hand to make the shaft with cedar for the blades on these











    All I would say to anyone thinking of making thier own paddle for the first time is to use any piece, or pieces if your laminating, that are available and DO IT !! Cos I'm certain it won't be the only paddle you'll make. Then you can get into the why's, wherefores, ifs, but's & maybe's discussed above

    There is always something special about using something you have made even if you think you could have done better.

    Check my thread in Self Build 'All Paddled Out' and you can see that even when things go wrong you can still make a decent paddle.

    I've made a number of Guitars in the past and read the books that would have the whole construction process shrouded in mystery, the cut of the timber affecting the sound etc. Then I saw a guitar that had been made from old PALLETS and by all accounts it sounded fine and played quite well, so I tend not to be looking at any woodwork as engineering.
    Wood, any wood, is a beautiful natural product


    There are as many different opinions as there are people

    As for me I like to milk all the cows but make my own butter
    Not sure if that's a mixed metaphore or not
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 22nd-April-2008 at 08:55 AM.
    Better to do something and regret it - Than regret not doing anything

  59. #59
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    Really nice shaped handles........

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyAyeMan View Post
    The most important tools in paddle making are a pencil and a good measuring stick. I have used a number of different tools. I have used a band saw but prefer the jig saw as it is easier to control. I have also made real quick and dirty paddles on trips with an axe and a knife. That’s fun too but now I don’t lend my spares!
    The most important thing is sizing your paddle, I have heard a lot of ways to determine paddle length but the one that works best for me is measuring the distance between the elbows when the arms are up and bent at 90 degrees. So if you are holding your paddle above your head with your arms bent at perfect right angles one hand on the grip and one hand on the shaft at the throat; that is the measurement you need to be concerned with. Blades are all different lengths so they will all produce different length paddles. Most experts agree that if you are a stern paddler you should make your shaft an inch or two longer as well.
    The next thing is what kind of wood to use? You have to ask; what is the paddle to be used for? A Sunday best show piece can be made from walnut or cherry, a tripping paddle or wilderness paddle should be of much stouter wood such as maple, birch or ash. I once took a walnut paddle on a wilderness trip and broke it about an hour into the trip with no spare. Since then I only use ash paddles in the wilderness; it is about the best for rough conditions. Maple is also a tough wood but it can be heavy and it splits at the tip no matter how well you take care of it. Birch is a good wood but it can be hard to work. I have recently started experimenting with imported eucalyptus. It is a bit heavy but it is harder than the hubs of hell and can be made into super thin touring paddles. I did however burn up a jigsaw cutting out my first eucalyptus paddle blank. Cedar, Poplar, and spruce can also make good paddles but have to be made thicker. I would be interested in trying a piece of Yew but it doesn’t grow here in Canada.
    I always finish my paddles with a combination of Linseed and Tung oils. The oil is heated to just about boiling and then applied liberally all over the paddle. Do this outside though because 5 out of 6 times the oil catches fire, you just cover it to put it out again. After applying the hot oil I wait 20 or 30 minutes (depending on the temperature outside) adding more oil to any dry spots, usually end grain or the tip. After that short wait I wipe it down thoroughly then wipe on and off a second and sometimes a third coat. With this process you will never get a blister, but you have to oil the whole paddle frequently to maintain it.


    On a trip off the New brunswick Coast to a deserted island I managed to break a paddle then had to construct one from a piece of driftwood. It was treated 2X6 so it didnt have dry rot like most of the driftwood


    Without much for tools I knocked out a rough paddle with a saw, an axe and a small knife


    It didn't have to be pretty it just had to get me home


    Let me tell you, modern tools are a lot less tiring, especially for thinning down the paddle blade


    Ash Paddles from the workshop in various stages


    Experimental Eucalyptus paddles from the shop
    Lloyd
    I'm guessing that there are some very interesting photos here but I & maybe others can't see them.

    Any chance of a re-post with pics we can see
    Better to do something and regret it - Than regret not doing anything

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