Paddle makers, any advice for a new guy?

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Forum topic by gr8outdrsmn posted 12-12-2008 02:02 AM 1626 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 3421 days

12-12-2008 02:02 AM

Topic tags/keywords: paddles

Hello all! This is my first post on here, and I must say that this looks like a great forum. I hope to learn a lot from you guys.

I am new to woodworking in that I have never really taken on a project by myself. I have helped my dad over the years off and on with lots of things (built 2 storage buildings that you could drive a truck over, we always go overkill, hanging drywall, bathroom remodel, reroofed house, etc). I have recently decided to start attempting to make some paddles in my spare time. It doesn’t look like too difficult of a task, as I am a pretty mechanical person and I usually pick up things pretty quickly. I co-own/operate an electrical business with my dad and we do everything for ourselves no matter what the task is, so I am pretty adept at the various skills needed in all phases of residential work. In other words, I don’t feel like I am biting off more than I can chew with this project.

Ok, now on to my topic, sorry I tend to get long winded. It’s something I picked up from my dad, haha.

I am planning on making a Greenland Kayak Paddle for starters. I have gotten the Chuck Holst instructions for this and a pretty informative video on it from .

I have also ordered Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own .

I went to Home Depot and dug through many 2×12’s and actually found an 8’ 2×12 that only had 3 knots in it that are all smaller than my pinky. I decided that this was the most economical and practical way to start out, as I will mostlikely mess up, haha. Also, because of the dimensions of the Greenland Paddle, I should be able to get 3 paddles out of this 2×12.

As far as tools goes, I have miter saws, circular saws, sawzalls, table saws, chisels, files, rasps, drills, sanders, & clamps. I am ordering the 9” Curved Blade Draw Knife by Iltis Oxhead and will be buying a block plane (probably a Stanley I saw at Lowes or Home Depot for $30 I think)

Do any of you guys have any suggestions or advice for me that I may not realize until it is too late? I welcome any and all advice/criticisms/comments.

Thanks for taking the time to read my short story, haha.

-- Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.

2 replies so far

View Rob 's profile


216 posts in 3635 days

#1 posted 12-12-2008 04:33 AM

I’ve made a few paddles and like you I decided to make my first out of construction lumber (SPF). Definitely avoid the knots in the shaft of the paddle, especially when using a soft wood. You will likely get away with them without issue in the blade. Another thing, if you have the means, cut out your blank on the bandsaw. A jigsaw blade will sway about as it struggles with the thickness of the board. I suppose you could handsaw your blank but do what you can to keep your edges straight as it helps to keep things symetrical when you start carving. That’s all that comes to mind right now. You should find the book you listed very informative; I certainly did. PM me if you have any questions and I’ll do what I can to help. Enjoy your paddle making. And welcome to LJ’s!

View koopmaun's profile


28 posts in 4166 days

#2 posted 01-07-2009 03:06 PM

Hi. I haven’t been reading posts for a long time and just came across yours. I am a builder of custom canoe paddles, regular straight paddles, power stroke blade paddles and bent shaft ergonomic paddles. You can see some examples at my website:

All the paddles I make now are out of hardwoods. Bass, cherry, maple, walnut, ash, birch, and black willow are what I use. My paddles are also laminated together, even the normal style paddles. It is easier to cut and glue than cut out and then whittle from a large blank, at least I thnk it is. You also waste less wood.

Also, one of the benefits of laminating your paddle blank is that you can be artistic with it. Use contrasting woods as accents. Have very hard wood for the blade edges and blade tip (I recommend doing that anyway as that is where all the abuse happens).

When I first started out, I used a hand plane to thickness the paddle blade. Quite a workout. I highly recommend purchasing a power hand plane. Where it used to take me a couple of hours to get the blade down to the right thickness, it now takes about 10 minutes. That tool was probably the best purchase I ever made.

I will end here as I could probably go on for a while and I don’t want this post to get too long. Have fun with your paddle making. If you want to discuss more about paddles and making other styles, drop me an email at and I’d be happy to offer advise, comments or just plain chat.


-- Koopmaun, Canada,

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