Making a Greenland Paddle with Hand Tools

NotThePainter, I do agree with that. The Greenland threads show there is room to pursue that journey through hand tools, by using a mix of tools and machines, designing them on a computer program connected to a benchtop CNC, or by making them out of carbon fabric in a mold. In the end, the main differences are cosmetic, repeatability, and efficiency. By repeating the process, the builder can refine a previous model. All the method of construction does is facilitate how easy it is to modify the design to accurately make a new test model quicker.

Since I began examining the Greenland Paddle, the differences in apparent size between a Euro and a Greenland paddle was intriguing. I calculated the size of the Greenland I made and found that it wasn’t that different than my current Euro touring paddle. The gap is even less when considering that I intended to find a paddle with a blade that’s about 5 sq inches smaller.

The investment of $5 in a pine 2x4 and a $16 pint of pure tung oil (on sale), allowed me to experiment first hand. Building a paddle also refined my tool inventory and skill. Win, win, win, win. I can’t express my thanks enough for the initiative, the responses, the advice, and even the questions that stimulated further research and answers.

Since the end of my paddling season, I’ve looked at my logs and recent app that graph trip parameters. I still need to use the paddle, but by looking at notes and trips of different lengths, I’m beginning to believe the Greenland is a very capable touring choice, if not superior to a touring Euro. That’s a big change from being a skeptic.

@Jyak and @bnystrom

Do either/both of you think this spokeshave is actually restorable and worth restoring? (This ebay item is actually being sold from within Canada.)

That’s in rough shape. At $31.56 plus $25.25 shipping, $56.76 you’ve locked in with the investment. I wouldn’t take a chance without being able to touch it and inspected it. My primary concern is the rust on the adjuster nuts and the studs. Smooth operation is marginal at best, but if pitted, accurate adjustment would be difficult. A poorly fitted spokeshave is a pain to use, because there is such little flat on the sole. Proper fitbis important.

Have you looked at the new model in the retail tool stores? The Stanley is listed at $22. The rough pain can be cleaned up.

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I agree with Jyak, that looks pretty rough. Can USA ebay work for you? There are some decent ones there.

While I would say that it’s likely to be restorable, the price and especially the shipping are ridiculous given the condition. I’d pass on it. Have you checked for flea markets in your area? They often have vendors selling old, used or reconditioned tools.

When I’ve restored tools that are badly rusted like that, I start by soaking them in a citric acid solution. You can get citric acid powder at places that sell brewing and wine making supplies, and from other sources. Brush off as much rust and paint as you can and disassemble it as far as possible, then degrease it. Soaking in the acid removes the rust without damaging the underlying metal and leaves a clean surface, ready for next steps. Rinse the parts with water, then coat them with WD-40 or something similar right away, as the surfaces will rust quickly if you don’t.

From there, you can flatten, sharpen, paint and such, as necessary. If the back of the blade is badly pitted, you’ll probably need to replace it.

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This one is cheaper and looks a LOT better: Stanley # 151 Spoke Shave | eBay

It’s on, but it’s in PA. Apparently they’ll ship to Canada.
EDIT: I just realized that it’s an auction, but I would keep an eye on it.

Brian I figured you’d get that heart to beat again.

1890, if you buy $39 worth of product from Lee Valley, shipping is free. Similar with Rockler. The 151 carbon steel blade is about $8.98 for about a 1/8" blade. The O1, A2, blades are $21, PM-V11 blade is $28. Rockler and others have similar prices.

I did find another option, the Bench Dog’s 151 from Rockler for $30. Reviews are similar to other brands, but I like the unpainted steal cap (relatively soft on my Record, probably small amount of Chromium and Nickel), compared to the painted cap (surely just mild steel). I don’t like paint between the blade, cap, and bed. I sent you a comparison between cast iron material, carbon steel and tool steel. The reviews actually describe what I expect from a tool in that price range, based on other sites and the level of workmanship in a $20 to $30 tool.

I included a few reviews related to quality control and other issues. A brittle blade coukd be improper tempering or poor quality steel. It could also be improper grinding technique by customer; sharpening the blade on a high speed grinder can turn a thin edge red, then quenching very quickly in water could possible make it brittle or cause micro cracks. More likely to air cool and lose the hardness if allowed to cool slowly.

You already accept that the spokeshave must be tuned, you can get a new blade for $10 to 20. My adjustment studs were not staked. Although I could not get them to tighten or remove them with double nuts locked tight, the plane does work. Rockler has a good customer service record and return policy. It’s an option with a warranty. I’d order some other product to get free shipping. I got my 100% pure tung oil with an order and a coupon for 15% off the most expensive item.

You can build things using several different approaches. Time is money to me; not because I’m being paid to build something, but because I have so many projects that I want to build. Too many projects, too little time. You could make a paddle with a hatchet and a pen knife. You can use quality tools or junk. I enjoy using tools, so I buy quality products, whether they’re hand tools or machine tools. My goal is a useable product, using the most efficient method. I’d rather have a paddle in 5 hours than spend that time tuning a plane. Unless you take as much pleasure tuning a plane as you get from making a paddle. Hope you have plenty of options now. Good luck.

If it’s made in India, it’s likely by the same company that make Groz tools. I bought several of their block planes for classes. The quality is somewhat inconsistent and they require tuning, but once tuned, they work OK.

Roym, my pick is the Veritas from Lee Valley. Unless Brian says don’t do it.

Bnystrom, I assume your talking about the Bench Dog 151. That’s why I mentioned it as an option. In my mind, fixing something to make it work isn’t the same as having a nice tool. Personal budgets being what they are, each person has to make a decision. All models under $45 have quality control issues, and my hopes of putting “hands on” a Stanley at Home Depot didn’t happen (not a stocked item).

Given a choice between the low price models that I reviewed, I’d buy the Bench Dog based on the known negatives: crooked adjuster studs and brittle blades (two complaints for each problem). If either problem is encountered, send it back or ask for a replacement blade.

If the decision is to just buy an aftermarket blade if everything else checks out, the Stanley blade raises a $30 tool to $39, or a $51 tool if upgrading to the heavier Veritas A2 blade. If it works as is, you saved $109. If it needs a new blade, you still could save between $80 and $100. That’s still a win.

On another note. During the past five or six weeks, prime pine 2x4s went up from $5.00 to $7.98. Buy your supplies sooner, rather than later.

I often review valued posts after a time as I learn. While reviewing posts, I notice several things that escape my attention on the first go round.

Bynstrom, I believe you have a contractor Stanley 151 or maybe a 951 with the red cap. Is that the currently available model, and what’s your opinion of how the painted cap cleans up and resists corrosion.

And roym, about all your little friends, are they employed or just companions; are you a collector?

I have six of the 12-951 spokeshaves that I bought for classes, most of which haven’t been used. The caps are actually a better fit out of the package than the ones on my Record 'shaves were. I looked at three of them and I didn’t even bother to flatten the underside of the caps when I tuned them, though it probably wouldn’t hurt to touch up just the contact points at the front edge. If you take reasonable care of them, they shouldn’t rust. Overall, it’s a decent tool that cuts cedar nicely, though you’d probably want a better blade for hardwood use. I’ll give one a shot on some green cherry and see how it performs, then report back.

Thanks Brian. That was the one hesitation on my part. The bare steel caps had to be some grade of stainless. Maybe the mild steel retains shape better when stamped.

My father was a shipyard craftsman. Hand and machine tools in the 50s were of higher quality. His 80 year old portable belt sander is still in use. One of two at the shop is unserviceable, only because parts are no longer made. Same with our 3 1/2 hp routers. Bearings are no longer available, and the model discontinued. Our router lifts set in bench tops cost as much as the router, but they don’t fit other machines. As for new tools,I burned up two mini routers and a compact router that had fewer than 50 hours.

Without waxing on, this is a message of caution to anyone purchasing tools. We’re in an industrial transition that may have crippling consequences for manufacturing. Think carefully before investing in a tool. The first step in reducing cost is to cut back on fit and finish, or use of less expensive material. Another way is to continue using dull tooling, or increase acceptable tolerances for quality control standards. That is the reason you’ll find one tool works and another doesn’t.

My father often talked about the cost of a tool, compared to the hourly wage. He related how many hours, days or weeks it would take to buy a specific tool. A properly set up tool may cost three times as much, but it’ll be a one time purchase. If you have the knowledge to spot serviceable vintage tools, it’s a great option.

OK, here’s the scoop on the Stanley 12-951:
I had done a relatively quick tune-up on it and I decided to do a bit more work. I resharpened the blade, sanded the paint - which is thick and durable - off the cap’s contact point with the blade and also off the front edge of the cap. The metal is very hard and a file wouldn’t bite into it, so it may actually be chromed under the paint. The cap is actually thicker than the Record cap, but some of the difference is the paint; the metal thickness is probably the same.

I tried it on some pine and cherry and it tended to chatter, probably because the blade is only .062" thick. As a test, I swapped it for the .080" blade from my Record 'shave and that was a major improvement - it was certainly quite serviceable. A slightly thicker blade should work, but I didn’t have any other 151-style blades to try.

It also had a tendency to self-adjust - deepening the cut - when it chattered. This is most likely because there is backlash in the adjusters. This is easy to fix, by peening or staking the adjuster slots in the blade, which I had done on my Record 'shaves.

The bottom line is that if you’re willing to do some of the typical tuning steps and swap in a thicker blade, it should be a good tool. It’s solidly made and handles nicely. The ones I have say “Made in England” on the blade and interestingly “No 151” on the handle casting. The current Stanley website pics show the same on the blade, so apparently they’re the same as mine and not made in China or India.

Amazon has them for $25.99 and says they’re made in Mexico, so perhaps only the blade is made in England. Looking at the pics on Amazon, the casting on mine is slightly different, so who knows?

Bnystrom, nice review and odd noting how the painted cap is hard. My bare metal must be stainless by the way it files. I polished the adjustment slots in the blade before I hardened it, using a very fine Norton file, then 120 and 220 on a flat stick. I tried to polish more afterwards but the steel is harder than I feel like dealing with now.

Before tuning, I had trouble with the cap drifting during use. Reviews noted that as a common complaint. That was solve by tuning. I found play in the adjusters to be extreme. Im sure you’ve figured out that retracting then extending the blade carefully keeps tension on the blade to prevent slippage. It’s just a pain if you over extend, then have to play with backlash to withdraw and extend again. I like the way it works, but can’t wait until my heavier blade come in (backorder until mid Feb).

I decided to get a Veritas flat model, before prices escalate. Absent any comment from you, I’ll consider that an endorsement that stands on its own merit.

I’ve been using my Veritas on green cherry and it’s a substantial improvement over the Record, which is an improvement over the stock Stanley. You won’t be disappointed.

I think if I was looking for a budget spokeshave, I would try to find a Stanley in a local store or order one on Amazon, so it’s easy to return or exchange. I would plan on replacing the blade, too.

I agree on that, and you made my day.

Episode 19 is up!

This is the 19th episode in my series on making a Greenland kayak paddle entirely with hand tools, but really, start with #11. In this episode I shape the blade edges, tips, knock down any edges and finally round the loom. I also show off my new to me block plane.

Episode 20 is up. The paddle is done. LOL, not really, still need to sand, epoxy the tips, and finish it. That should be, what, 2 more years?

In this episode I do the final shaping on blades, loom and tips. I also show off my Low Roman Bench that I made as well as a new to me block plane.