Making a Greenland Paddle with Hand Tools

Thanks, that should give me enough to work with. Looking forward to it. Will post back here if I get it done.

This is the 6th episode in my series on making a Greenland kayak paddle entire with hand tools. In this episode I recover from the mistakes that I made earlier and noticed in episode 5.

That mistake sounds so much like me I had to chuckle! Thanks for sharing!

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Now you’re getting the hang of it! It looks like your paddle blank has been saved.

Here’s are three more tips about planing the blades:

  • Put additional blocks under the unclamped section so it doesn’t sag and bounce. The better it’s supported, the easier and more precise your planing will be, and the straighter the the resulting taper will be.
  • The side-to-side variation in the amount of wood removed could just be your technique, but it could also indicate that the blade’s depth of cut is not set evenly from left to right. The easiest way to check this is to turn the plane over with the toe (front) facing you and sight down the sole, with a light source in the background. You’ll see the shadow of the blade and it’s pretty easy to tell if it’s even or not. If need be, use the adjusting lever to make the blade even.
  • The chip buildup between the chip breaker and the blade is due to an imperfect fit between the two that results in a gap. It’s an easy thing to fix, but it’s probably best to find a plane-tuning video online that demonstrates the process. Record planes are good quality, but they do require some tuning for best performance.

BTW, in my previous post, I did suggest a #7 or #8. :wink:

Oh…and thanks for the plug about my book.

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Thanks for your comments!

I noticed while editing that I needed more blocks, easy fix! I’m pretty sure it is my technique, but that’s a neat trick to check the blade angle. I have been just looking at it straight on.

The thing that impressed me about your book, out of the box, aside from the clear language and photos, was that you were able to teach me, almost instantly, what quarter sawn wood was. I’ve seen that term a hundred times and nobody really made me understand how to identify it! That detail tells me that there will be more gems like that in the book.

speaking of quarter sawn cedar. anyone seen any ?
Peace Jeff

Where are you located?

I’m in Minnesota. Last time I had quartersawn cedar was in 2009. I have had close to quartersawn that have resulted in well used paddles. Lumber company in this town Siwek was the place to get any boat building, paddle carving wood product. They even had green oak slabs and could dice them up to rib / coaming dimensions for a few $. They laughed for the last 10 years if I asked about quarter sawn anything.
I was not really looking to carve right now, but I would love quartersawn when I carve again.
I have murdered enough blanks to behave with a good piece of cedar.

Peace Jeff

This is the 7th episode in my series on making a Greenland kayak paddle entire with hand tools. In this episode I rough shape the blades using a spoke shave but, as usual, make a mistake which I don’t catch until the end. I also correct for some ‘too deep’ saw cuts that I didn’t think would be a problem.

The reason you noticed the gap you did at the end of the videos is primarily because you haven’t reduced the middle of the loom to size, so it pushes the end of the straightedge away from the blade. To see the actual shape of the blade, what you want to do is to run the straightedge from the shoulder to the tip, since that should be a straight line.

One thing I would strongly suggest is that you don’t try to install a ferrule until after you’ve gotten to the point that you’ve made a functional paddle. As long as you don’t reduce the size of the loom too much, you can always add the ferrule later or better yet, save it for a future paddle. Considering that you’re still in the learning and experimenting stage, do you really want to add the cost and complexity of a ferrule when you’re not even sure you’re going to like the paddle?

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Quarter sawn is an over used and mostly inappropriately used term. Vertical grain is the term we should be using.

Most wood that we call quarter sawn is actually rift sawn. In the process of sawing a certain amount actually appear to be quarter sawn. Vertical grain is what we want. Quarter sawing just yields more vertical grain pieces.

Episode 8 is up.

I work on my loom with a rasp, which was a first for me. It went rather well in my opinion. I still need to think of the paddle is salvagable or not. I hate to start over and I hate not starting over.

“Cheese graters” … I use 'em for fitting…and not much of that. They grate on my nerves more than the planes. The spokeshave is the proper plane for the “round parts” of the paddle.

In a pinch you can use a small- ish block plane on the diagonal . But that takes some time to build up skills to do right.

Your text observations were correct; you want to maintain the rectangular shape of the loom until you reduce it to very close to the finished size (within 1/16 or so) in both dimensions. This may require redrawing your layout lines. You were also correct about turning it into an octagon, but it’s important that you complete the squaring step first, so you can draw layout lines for the bevels that will create the octagon shape, then cut the bevels. The golden rule is: One step at a time

A micro plane or rasp is great for knocking off the square corners quickly, but as you noted, it’s a coarse tool. I typically use a Shinto rasp, but only to remove the bulk of the material and get close to the layout lines. From there, I switch to a combination of a block plane and a spokeshave to get right down to the lines.

Once the octagon is established, I’ll eyeball the next bevels, which remove the corners of the octagon. One thing that’s important is that you make all of these bevels as consistent as possible, as they form the basis for the final sanding.

It’s not necessary to reduce the entire loom to the dimensions of the ferrule and I wouldn’t do so, as I prefer a loom that’s a rounded rectangle where my hands are, not completely round. Also, I would make a small shoulder where the wood meets the ferrule, so the wood blends seamlessly into the outer dimension of the ferrule. The ferrule must be epoxied to the wood, otherwise the constant flexing from paddling will cause it to loosen. That’s why I recommended not installing a ferrule until you’ve got a paddle that you’re completely happy with. Cleaning out a ferrule that’s been epoxied to a paddle that you end up not liking would be a major hassle.


@onlysme4969 I think you posted this about 10 days too early. :laughing:

Is that paddle done yet? I made one for my son out of mahogany and maple that looks very similar. Beautiful but a bit on the heavy side.

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I’m so not sending you a Christmas card this year…

The problem with winter project is that I have 3 and one exploded. And now the spring projects are starting!

And Part 9 is up. I round the edges and don’t really mess up anything!

Part 10 where I realize the magnitude of a cut that I made months ago but was too deep. Time to start over, this time with Brian’s book!