paddle carving

I worked on the last step involving planing on my greenland paddle project today and had a horrible time. It was as if every direction I went was against the grain. I tried sharpening my blade several times and still had a horrible time. now I am thinking, and wondering if the fact that humidity has been very high for the last thirty six hours, with rain all day today. could my hunk of wood actually been wet and thats why I had problems? I’m disappointed, the paddle wont be the quality I had hoped for but Im going to finish it and paddle with it anyway. does anyone have any thoughts on my planing problems? thanks.

It sounds like like
the board you are carving has flat sawn grain. Plaining a board that is flatsawn can be difficult and result in some grain tear out. Boards that are quartersawn hand plain much nicer without the grain tear out. My first few paddles were done with a hand plain and now I use a power plainer and a belt sander and it doesn’t matter what the grain orientation is.

i dont understand the difference. it planed beautiful the first steps but not the final shaping. Imsure this is the case but now Im wondering if the other piece of wrc I have from this 2 by 10 is going to be good for another try or if it will give me the same problems. thanks for the response!

A couple things.
First, if you’re starting with a 2x10, I’m sure you’ve picked out some verticle grain to work with. If that’s the case, you may just have to reset the plane for shallower passes. I personally have liked switching to a pocket plane for the finer work (same as a block plane in essence but only about 3" long). It seems to take those winding passes a heckuva lot easier. Lastly, have you might consider posting on this forum:

If you haven’t seen the video, it’s worth the time.


belt sander. My first, and only, paddle turned out beautifully.

Vertical grain (aka “quartersawn”)…
…looks like this on the end of the board:


Flat grain (aka “flat sawn”) looks more or less like this:





Of course, you’ll never see wood with perfectly vertical grain across the entire width of the board - trees are round, afterall - but getting as close as possible really helps. Also, the grain should run from end to end with VERY LITTLE runout.

While it can be a pain to find ideal wood, it’s less of a pain than dealing with the consequences of poor grain orientation (difficult carving, warping, breakage, etc). Here’s a link to a photo of good grain from my book:

my paddle
actually ended up better than I expected when I posted this! a little more sanding and then time to finish it! then I’ll finally get to use it! I’ve never paddled with a greenland paddle before so I’m really looking forward to trying it out! thanks for all the help!

Read about technique first
I suggest that you go over to and read up on GP technique before you try your paddle. There are also some good video clips on the site. There are significant difference in the way GPs are used (vs. Euro paddles) that can have a big impact on your initial impression and ongoing success. It’s easy to get a bad first impression if you apply the wrong technique.