A number of people I paddle with are GP users and I’m intrigued enough to try to build one but lack any real woodworking skill and many of the basic tools that would be needed. I know I don’t have the patience to do it with my father’s 70 year old chisels and planes! Taking a class would be cool.
Anyone know of a paddle making class on the East Coast, preferably near NY? Several people told me “they knew of a guy” but can’t recall name or location. The closest thing I can find on Google is a place near Cape May NJ.
I just did a two day class at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I think they try to do it once a year. Didn’t quite finish, still have a little shaping and sanding to do. It was a lot of fun and they walked through each step. I had familiarity with tools but no significant woodworking since high school shop. #4 smoothing plane, block plane, spoke shave, Shinto rasp, metal rule, combo square.
We “cheated” a little using a chop saw, band saw and router. They showed us their safety practices and had each person doing their own work. Some had never heard of any of the tools much less use them. So I can see how getting instruction can be helpful and eye opening for some. It was a decent refresher for me, especially adjusting and using planes, and being cognizant of wood grain. We started with a 2x4 of clear, straight Western Red Cedar. We also had spacious benches and all manner of clamps for holding the piece.
Yeah, it was pricey, driving hundreds of miles, hotel, etc but, we’ve been members of the museum for ages and enjoy participating.
That’s a great idea. I don’t know how common they are but there’s one in the town I’m visiting called “Shop Class.” Same thing, they have all sorts of tools and people to show you how to use them. They have a brief but mandatory class on safety and practices.
Back in the old days we could actually use our high school shops after hours and sometimes in summer.
I joined the MakerSpace in Charlotte earlier this year specifically to make some Greenland paddles. They have the power equipment and, even more importantly, the space that I do not have at home. I followed the instructions in the excellent book by @bnystrom. I am up to the final sanding step on two Greenland paddles (one for me and one for my wife.) We are hoping to try them out soon.
The MakerSpace power equipment I used was:
Cut Off Saw
Band Saw (two different ones)
Using this equipment made the fabrication much faster and easier, for me.
In addition, I bought a couple of planes, a spoke shave and sandpaper. And the wood, of course!
The MakerSpace I joined, does require a safety class to use the power equipment, but I was able to skip it since I have experience using all of the tools. They also, have a lot of other types of equipment. We have started to learn how to use 3d printers, for example.
There are certainly very skilled and experienced Greenland paddle carvers here; bnystrom, for example, who has published an excellent book. I am cheap and like to do woodworking that doesn’t use modern power tools and try to just use simple hand tools, and learn how things were done long ago. I have made a few paddles now with a hand ax, japanese hand saw, draw knife, and some rasps. I also cheat near the end and do a lot of final shaping with a orbital sander, so I am not a purist. My advice would be to buy a couple of inexpensive pieces of wood for your first attempts and teach yourself how. There are lots of helpful books, videos on the internet, and also this forum. You would probably need to invest in about $200 in tools, but I find I use the tools I bought originally for bow making, for lots of other projects. There is a thread on this forum that goes on for hundreds of posts, I wonder if that thread intimidates a lot of people who could make a paddle. It’s actually easy to make a nice paddle in two or three weekends of work, using hand tools it’s very hard to make a mistake, because you go slowly and don’t make small goofs that can ruin a project. I think if you take a class you will find you’ll be using planes quite a bit. The good thing about making paddles is it does help you develop patience.
Yup. I made the first couple of GPs with fir and hand tools. I later found a handheld power planer (parallel to your orbiter) to really speed things up. One can spend a lot of time making the GP fancier (with tip protectors) and more visually appealing (laminates), but, really, you can make a functional GP rather easily. Just go at it.
Go to: “Making a Greenland Paddle With Hand Tools.” If you dont think you can make a paddle after reading that, buy one. If you have access to power tools, I used a table saw, band saw, router table and joiner to set exact dimensions. The table saw establishes exact cuts for the length of the blades, and the depth of that cut also gives depth cuts for the width of loom. I used that approach mainly because it left less room for layout error.
I made mine based on plans that were free online. I used a handsaw for the main cuts and a spokeshave to do much of the shaping. It’s a pretty simple process if you follow the plans. You start with a 2x4.
Maker Space: yes, that would make sense but the one nearest me charges $150/year membership and that gets you one day a month. Add in time and commute and it’s cheaper to buy a paddle.
(small rant about this: Maker Spaces were meant to be democratizing in terms of sharing resources and helping others develop skills. In NYC at least, it’s just another business like getting a gym membership with different tiers. You pay a lot if you want to use the resources on anywhere near a regular basis.)
The long thread on making a paddle referred to earlier in the thread is overwhelming. I’ve been watching the excellent Cape Falcon videos on Youtube. It makes perfect sense visually. Maybe the solution is to rent the tools I don’t have (like the hand held power planer and jigsaw etc) from the Home Despot rental facility. I know I don’t have the patience to whittle the thing from scratch using hand planes.
The Cape Falcon GP videos are quite informative. Just finished my first - I cut the blank from a lumber store 2x4 on a yard-sale jig-saw, and cut the blades using only an old jack plane, properly sharpened and adjusted (youtube). After a bit of a learning curve, I was cutting a blade face ready for sanding in ~20 minutes, using only the plane. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed cutting the paddle - give it a shot.