Pictuers of Canoe Paddlle Building

Just finished a 36" shaft length, 28" blade length beavertail that I will use with my flatwater cruiser solo canoe. Yesterday was the “maiden voyage” for the paddle (only a day or two after ice out). I liked it and it is bound to become one of my favorite paddles - and I have built many. Decided to take pictures of the building process this time, and post them for a while for those who might have an interest.


Very Nice!
Thanks for the fine series of pictures, DM! This is something I might like to try one day and this helps with visualizing the whole process. Hope to see the final product on the Wisconsin R. later this summer!

I like that home made drum sander. Thanks for posting the pics.

You can do it!
Thanks. If you’re into woodworking, making a paddle (or 3 dozen of them) is a great project. See you on the Wisconsin R.

No spruce
I have used spruce in some of my paddles, but not this one. I like to experiment and laminate something up that meets my lightness, abrasion resistance, flex, and aesthetic demands. In this one I used sycamore, white pine, and w red cedar heartwood in the shaft; and black ash, black willow, and w red cedar in the blade. Grip is solid walnut.

I cobbled together the drum sander 30 years ago and the old wringer washer motor still chugs and lugs along. If you’re into small woodworking type projects, this has been a great tool over the years. The 3" x 10" drums are lapidary supplies.

Beautiful work DM.
I thought my garage/workshop was the only one that looked like that.

Canoe Paddle
Very nice job. It’s interesting to see how we use different methods to get to the same end. Let us know how it feels in the water.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom canoe paddles and cedar strip canoes

You are so talented.

Your Shop Too?
There must be a support group somewhere for us…

Thanks String.

Thanks Marc
I actually had it out yesterday for the season opener in my Voyager. Did 2 miles around the perimeter of a small lake with my sugar island style paddle and then a second time around with the new beavertail. The sugar island has about 10 square inches of blade surface area more than the beavertail. I monitored my paddling with a GPS. the beavertail was a little faster going downwind; a little slower going into the wind; was a little quieter paddle; and did not engage the stomach muscles anywhere near as much as the sugar island does. It gave me very good control of the boat. I wasn’t looking for flex in the paddle and it is not there. I would definitely be less tired at the end of an all day paddle with the new beavertail and would probably have covered the same distance.

Thanks Miriam

Nice Work, Darryl
Looking forward to using mine! Will try to remember to bring you some sassafras and sycamore up north. WW

I just got around to looking at the pics - very nice!

One of these days…


Question DM. Do you have a planer
or do you buy the boards with flat edges? I think I could get into paddle building.

Yes I have a delta 12.5" model 22-560 portable planer and it works great for what I do. If you get a portable planer, be sure it’s proven to have minimal snipe or every board you run through will be gouged thinner for a couple inches on each end. I also have a 6" jointer. Ideally I think you need both a planer and a jointer. For the laminations to be as strong as possible, you need perfectly straight edges (or faces) on your project wood before glue-up.

Whenever I can, I harvest logs of the various woods I want to use, mill them into boards, and air dry. So I use rough sawn boards in the paddles I do as well as selected stuff from the local lumber yard. I hope you will try making a paddle or two, String.

Sycamore and Sassafras
That’s great news Terry! I’m down to a partial stick of sycamore and there’s none anywhere near where I live. See you in a week.

Thanks Jim!

That’s a mighty elaborate operation…
… that you have devised. The final product looks every bit as nice as it should, given the nature of construction. That’s some very excellent workmanship there.

Thanks Eric
Looking forward to seeing you on the Wisconsin R later this summer.

I’m really impressed, both with the paddle and your shop. A shop should look worked in, not antiseptic like the one on that wood shop show on PBS.

See you guys on the Wisconsin