I’d been so busy making paddles for others that I’d forgotten my own needs completely!
My new Beaufort being the shortest kayak I own has as a result a shorter fore-deck than the others. Normally I have a spare paddle stowed on the fore deck for quick and easyish access, in case of sudden need. My preferred spare paddles have been Greenland Paddles (GP) normally about 206-210 cm long, blade width of some 90mm and a loom length (on a shouldered blade) of about 50cm.
My normal GP’s were a bit too wide and a tad too long to fit the fore deck of the Beaufort WITH sail installed. So I needed make a slightly smaller stick.
I would need the spare paddle for the upcoming coastal paddle which was to start off in about 2½ weeks so I would be busy yet.
After some head scratching and dry fitting I deiced to make a simple shoulderless GP 200cm long, loom = 40 cm and blade width 88mm.
I found a ready made paddle blank I’d made some years back. It was made from two strips of nordic pine (pinus sylvestris) sapwood, with a touch of sapwood at one end. While heavier, approx 540 kg/m3 @ 18%, than the much raved Western Red Cedar (WRC) the benefit of the nordic pine is that it is easily available, cheap and alot stronger AND harder wearing than WRC. Perfect choice for a spare paddle which will get its fair share of bangs and misuse.
Since you’ve read this far its only fair to give some prize for the perseverance! 🙂
To finally finish the SUP paddle pair I started building way back when.. I needed to do the most annoying bit: sanding and varnishing !!! Basicly its a simple chore, so simple that its easy to botch and then the end result looks cheap… so much for all that painstaking woodwork! 😉
So its time to confess. I’m probably a laziest sander I know and my varnishing skills are pretty poor, but in my defence I only make things that get banged up, scratched, misused, and usually at some point broken… so if the varnishing isn’t top-notch I suppose it doesnt matter much in the end? 😉
So the sanding. Yes, its booring. I won’t go into that other than despite its tediousness.. Its actually an important part of the process!! Don’t skip it! I start out usually with grit 80 -> 120-> 180-> 240 after that its time to varnish! Sometimes I start varnishing after 180. Sanding between every 2-3varnish layers I use 3m scotchbrite pads (or similar).
For the past 5 years or so I’ve mainly used the following method for varnishing my wooden paddles:
4-7 layers of varnish, Le Tonkinois Brand. Light sanding between every 2-3 layers
redo varnishing as needed, usually after each season
This cocktail seems to work nicely. Le Tonkinois seems to hold on better than urethane-alkyd varnishes out there! ‘Le Tonk’ is more expensive, but on wooden paddles you don’t need that much! Varnishing approx 6 paddles with 4 coats I use slightly less than 0.5 liters of varnish! One of the greatest things about ‘Le Tonk’ is that the paddle shaft doesnt feel slippery when wet, when it has been varnished with ‘Le Tonk’!
‘Le Tonk’ is an natural wood oil varnish. Consists of linseed oil, Tung oil and some other ‘natural’ ingredients. It doesnt require hazmat suits, its quite easy to apply with brush, is durable, has nice UV protection. Works nicely on paddles! It is my “go to” choice!
A friend had taken up on Stand Up Paddling. After some time she asked if I could make her a wooden SUP paddle. I’d never made a wooden SUP paddle and was kinda bored or atleast looking for something different to tinker on , so I promised to try to make a paddle for her.
Making something out of bits of wood wasn’t a problem. The challenge in this case was the basic design, shape and dimensions. I had no clue. I’d tried SUPping awhile ago in Portugal, but I was having such a fun time at the time that I didnt really pay any attention to the details of the paddle. Thank ze gods for the internet!
After googling for about 45 minutes, I more or less had some basic shaky idea what I was going to attempt. Online, I found a basic template of a paddle blade shape (I’ve lost the link for the moment from where I found the template, sorry about that!) and some possible dimensions as well. Also I had a book (yeah, I know, such an ancient concept and with no wifi either!), about canoe paddles!! So I was all set to go.@
The idea was to make a bent shaft paddle. My plan was to make the shaft from laminated strips. Partly for visual effetct and partly to make it .. well stronger. I fashioned a glue press with a 10 degree bend. The materials for the shaft were 3 strips of nordic pine sapwood @5.6mm thick and approx 40mm wide. Length at this stage was unknown so I built the shaft about 2300mm long. The remaining 2 strips I decided to use Mahogany of same dimensions. Mahogany may not be the smartest choice , as it is on the heavyish side.. but boy does it look great!
To keep it all together, I decided to use single-component polyurethane glue made by Wurth. I’ve used it previously on a couple canoe and kayak paddles with good results. At the moment I dont trust it as much as 2-component epoxy, which I’ve used on several occasion previously, but I think it’ll do the job sufficiently. besides my finances were in the dumps.. polyurethane is soo much more cheaper than epoxy.
After some gluing, pressing, planing I had the shaft ready after which I glued the “cheek pieces” of the blade, ie. the parts that make up the majority of the paddle blade area. For my Prototype #1 which will probably end up being a wallhanger anyway I used some scrap pieces of walnut I had lying around.. yeah, I know. not smart choice = too heavy and probably not very durable in the longterm.. but I had a hankering to work on walnut and I was going for looks at this stage.
Prototype#2 is basicly the same as #1 but the blade cheeks are nordic pine-sapwood, and 100mm longer. Should be quite a bit ighter than the shorter walnut version.
The paddles still need to be sanded down to their final size and shape and varnished and then at some date tested! Follow up posts will follow….
A paddle design I’ve exclusively used the past 3 years. The first prototype I built and used during the summer of 2013. It performed well but due to the materials used; maple, alder and pine, was slightly on the heavy side ( 1500+ gms), but booy, oh boy is it robust!
For the coast of Finland kayaking trip in 2014, I built a second prototype from lighter materials (total weight in the 950g range): Western Red Cedar (WRC), nordic pine and alder. I’ve used that paddle now for two consequetive summers and some 2500+ kms of touring. It still needs improvement but still its the best paddle I have made. While its not the lightest paddle out there, it IS strong enough for touring/expedition use! NO question! It has slight flex, just enough to let you know there is flex, But it is sturdy for serious heavy duty use! I’m not sure it will withstand the greenland definition of a multi-use-dependable paddle = “one can use it as a pull up bar”, but it’ll come very close!
The dimensions of the paddle prototype# 2 are: Length 220cm, Loom length 55cm, Blade max width 92mm. The loom cross-section is a mix between a Tri-oval and egg shape, kinda asymmerical oval. The loom cross-section dimensions are: width 28mm and thickness 32mm.
Marko, who will be paddling the Finnish coast during the summer 2016, asked me to make him a similar paddle with slightly tweaked dimensions to suit him. Here’s a quick and dirty photo-album (part 1) of “How, what and possibly why?”
Part – 2 will follow once I get the paddle made… and mayhaps later of how it all worked out? Or did it?