Paddles and a Dry Run

Gluing up the Paddles

      We'll build paddles of the "beaver tail" design with rounded blade tips and a slight taper in the blade then curving in to meet the handle. From the 1"X6"X60" piece of cedar we'll rip two 3"X60" strips. The cedar I found was quite smooth, even though it was rough cut. Rough cut meaning that the board was an actual 6 inches wide. On the 3" pieces we'll draw the shape of the handle with the hand grip and the curve outward toward the shape of the blade. Cut out the material along the handle sides leaving the handle about 1-1/4" wide. Save the scraps. These will be used on the blade. Rip four 1/2" wide strips from the 1"X4" redwood. Along the 3" wide blade section we'll add a redwood strip on each side and the scrap strips to the outside of that. Now we have a sandwich of cedar, redwood, cedar (center), redwood and cedar. Glue and clamp these using epoxy glue and bar clamps. Be sure to keep them flat until the glue sets. When the glue is set remove the clamps. On each flat side of the paddle handle we'll add a 1" X1/4" strip of redwood. This strip starts just below the hand grip and ends about 4 inches down the blade surface - here it is carved to a point. Glue and clamp the redwood strips to the handles. Our paddles look pretty rough and are quite heavy but things are going to change. Redraw the entire shape of the paddle and cut of any excess material. Now with a plane, spoke shave, sander and any manner of carving tool, we'll do the final shaping of the paddles. Carve indentations in the hand grips about 1" down from the end. These give your fingers a place to rest and make a more comfortable grip. Sand the handles round and smooth. Carve the blades thinner at the center and thinner yet toward the edges and the tips. Sand all corners and edges round and smooth. Now they look and feel like paddles.

Finished Paddles

      When my paddles were completed they weighed in at 1 lb.-11 oz. and 1 Lb.-13oz. For added strength (in heavy working conditions) a layer of fiberglass and epoxy can be applied over the blade surfaces. As with the canoe the glass cloth will disappear when the epoxy is applied. For the finish coating we'll first brush on a coat of "clear coat" epoxy (or any thin penetrating epoxy). When this has cured we'll sand with a mediun grade paper and apply three coats of marine varnish. You might notice that one of the paddles in the picture is shorter than the other, true. I made that one a little shorter for Kate. Paddles can be made to whatever length is comfortable for you. Most paddles for adults are 58" or 60" in length.
Hold on there Brownie Muldoon and Rugby Bear. We're not quite ready the go the the lake yet.

Finished Paddles

      Here is a new paddle we built to make it easier for Kate to handle. We discovered that the original paddles are a bit too heavy and too long. Now I have a new way to calculate the size of a paddle - try it out at the lake. This paddle weighs in at 1lb.-2oz. and is 50" long. The blade is shorter and wider but it actually moves more water. I like to use it myself. Guess I'll make another (perhaps a bent shaft).

Click image for a larger view.

Brownie Muldoon and Rugby Bear - Dreaming

      Before taking our canoe outside to see the sunshine sparkle off her shiny surface we'll need to do some more finish work - just a few more days. Since we have her sitting in the cradles, we'll lightly sand the inside to take down any rough spots. Sand the gunwales so the poplar trim and the cedar strips are smooth and fair. Where there are holes for the seat and yoke mounting bolts, we'll fill with a non-hardening pine putty, almost to the top of the holes. Mix a bit of "five-minute" epoxy and complete the filling of the holes. This will give us a smooth gunwale with no bolt heads visible. Apply a coat of marine varnish on the inside, the gunwales and the decks. When this is dry, sand with fine paper and varnish again. After the third coat of varnish we will have a fine glossy finish and enough UV protection. Epoxy, after some time, will yellow from the effects of UV sunlight. The UV protectant in the varnish will prevent this. When the inside and the gunwales are dry we'll turn our canoe up-side-down on the saw horses and give the outside three coats of varnish. Sand lightly between coats. Be sure to lay a piece of cloth on the saw horses to protect the gunwales.
      OK, Rugby and Brownie, lets take her out of this dark, shoddy barn. We'll set her up in the sunshine and see how she looks. Hey! Rugby, don't forget your paddle.

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