can anyone point me to a diagram online or any other online resource that would give me the basic dimensions of a beavertail canoe paddle? an ottertail would be cool in addition or instead of. the wood i have is 1 1/16 thick planed red oak if that matters.
Print out images from mfr’s sites
and scale 'em up or go to where paddles are with paper and pencil to trace some outlines. It’s not rocket science.
IMHO, this does…
not exist. The length and width of a canoe paddle blade is wholely dependent on the hull being paddled, type of water, the paddlers individual style, and several other factors ( this gets too long). An ottertail blade is actually the same style taken down to a narrow width given certain conditions, hull, style, etc. For instance I use a 9" x 22" beavertail sometims for Freestyle but would not take it wilderness tripping. Speed vs. control and power vs. endurance are several indicators for blade width. For most recreational canoeing ( whatever that is!) probably somewhere between 6 1/2" and 71/2" width would do, but don’t quote me on that.
Most important thing, keep the open side up!
don’t you have a Beavertail you like …
....... anyway , just find one and trace the blade on paper . The shaft won't need tracing , and you can design your own Pear grip (or other style) .
8" x 21" or 6-1/2" x 24" are nice sizes ... or 7" x 22" ... anything on those lines are good , it's up to you .
Once you've traced the blade , , fold in center and make the scissor cut so the pattern will be symetrical when unfolded .
You'll need a center line on your blade pattern anyway , because you have to have a center line running the length of your plank (paddle stock) . All things , blade , shaft , grip are centered on that center line to keep symerty .
When roughing the blade shape , shaft and grip shapes out of your plank stock (talking just the 90 degree edge cutting right now)... rough in real close to the final shape but leave "just a little" (1/8") extra to bring down extra carefully .
Once you have a carefully shaped blade pattern to the final line ... make a center line (on the 3/4" edge) all the way around the blade perimeter ... never allow this line to be rubbed or sanded off as you flatten , contour and shape out the blade faces - this line is your "sight reference" to maintain symetery when shaping the blade faces (2) down to final thickness , so keep it maintained !!
You are going to have to thicken up the shaft area on that 3/4" plank stock you have (laminate about another 3/8" to the shaft area each side , and about 6" into the blade area , also into the grip aways) . You could laminate an exact size to each side also - more on that in a minute .
Once you have roughed out your paddle pretty good and begin to bring it down to final dimensions ... you might want to consider to just keep thinning the blade and glass and expoxy the blade when ready to finish (you can shave quite a bit of weight that way , and have a nice thin and strong blade too) .
Shaping the transitions from shaft to blade (throat area) , and shaft to grip are the fun parts .
When shaping the shaft , try to "final" shape an oval instead of round (1-1/8" x 1-1/4" or there abouts) .
Bring the shaft to the finish dimensions (the 1-1/8" x 1-1/4") keeping it rectangular still (if you have 11/16" planed stock , you could just laminate about 9/32" on each side of shaft area instead of the 3/8" -that will put you right at the finish shaft dimension for that plane and save time and effort) .
Once you have the trued rectangle in as much of the shaft length as possible (almost to throat and grip transition area) ... then draw a center line on each of the 4 sides of that shaft retangle . Then draw 2 more lines on each side each side of that center line spliting the halves . Begin shaping the shaft by "cornering off" between outer most lines (you will have what essentially looks like a hexagon when completed at that stage . Them begin to round off each corner now , essentially "cornering off" again each corner , but removing much less wood at this stage (trying to form a rounded corner .
What is most critical is to always keep the main center lines and never touch them until final hand sanding ... they will always be there for you use as a sight reference as you will constantly be rotating the shaft/paddle as you bring the shaft to near final shape and sight down it very often in this process .
You can also use a piece of very hard dense wood , like Ipe , Ebony , similar ... for the blade tip area . Run this woods grain perpendicular to the blades grain ( that means you epoxy the edge grain of the tip wood , to the end grain of the blades wood (this is a good tip guard and best used if glass and epoxying the blade) . I've made one this way with glass and expoxied blade and that tip guard method ... it's great , and the glass cloth (2 oz.) was easy to do , the very thinned blade that the glass and expoxy allows is great also .
Beleive it or not , a Dewalt Random Orbit sander (#60 and #80 paper) can shape a blade and shaft soooo perfect and easy , knives aren't nessasary ... same as with knives , just keep turning the paddle and shaping symetrically consatntly as you go ... always keeping reference too and watching those "center lines" .
Have fun , you might be surprised at how great your paddle comes out !!
Let me add this , because the shaping and fine precision wood working can be a bit of a stress for someone who doesn't do it too much (the focus is intense) ... if you start to get a little clumsy , or a bit frustarated , just put it down and walk away before trying to push yourself on further ... come back to it later when fresh and ready again ... this way you will get it correct with minimal mistake and error .
The best way to eat a Whale (if you're not in hurry) , is to do so by taking just one bite at a time . For the paddle , precision and exactness are the objectives , not speed or how long the project takes .
Oak for a paddle
Wouldn’t be my first choice. Oak has large pores that are tedious to fill out smooth while finishing. If you use the oak, you might want to use a natural-wood color filler to fill all the pores before you spar varnish. It will make it a lot easier to keep the paddle clean.
A better choice, IMO, would be a finer-grained wood like ash or cherry.