Ready to make a paddle

Alright then, I’ve got the instructions, I’ll have the wood next weekend (clear cedar 2x4) and then I’ll cut the blanks. What I need is a little advice on hand tools. I’m a surveyor not a carpenter so if you have suggestions on the hand tools that will make this greenland paddle adventure a bit easier please be as detailed as possible.



You need to talk to N.T. and a few of
the others that are out river camping right now.


Congratulations Pat!

I made my first greenland paddlle this spring using Chuck Holst’s instructions.

After cutting the blank, I used an old bench plane while waiting for a 12.5 degree low-angle block plane that I ordered from Lee Valley Tools.

Aside from the plane, I also used a knife and sandpaper. That’s about it. You don’t have to break the bank.

Experienced woodworkers like spokeshaves and drawknives, but I didn’t have any and didn’t buy any.

A good plane and sandpaper is really all you need.


If you are going to cut the blank with a hand saw I would recommend a Japanese pull-cut saw. I have a band saw and use that, but if I were to use all hand tools the Japanese pull-cut saws are amazing.


I’ve been working on a video

– Last Updated: Nov-13-05 8:02 PM EST –

It's about half finished at the moment and I'll need a couple of weeks or less to get it done.

I'm uploading it right now if you would like to check it out. Like I said it's not finished and has very little editing done to it. You'll need the Windows Media player ver.9 to view it. It's 100 megs and 20 minutes long (the original is 4.5 gigs).

I haven't done a tools segment yet but this vid will help you get going.

FYI this file won't be on the server for very long. I don't want half-finished work out there so it will be replaced or deleted in a few days so grab it now if you want.

Unless bandwidth gets expensive this video will be entirely free (maybe for good reason ;)

Let me know if it's helpful to you.

I'd right click and save this file to your computer (if you have a really high-speed connection, like me, it will steam quite well). If you're on a 56k I'd start the download before you go to bed and let it download overnight. It's a big file but I wanted to give it out in full resolution.

very nice
I’m looking forward to the rest of it. Please post a notice when you are finished


i use surform shapers
surform shapers are designed for shaping surfboards. duh. they are easy to use and they work great on soft wood. you can cut across or against the grain, unlike other planes. i like the longer one that has a handle like a rasp, i use the convex blade for rough shaping and the flat one to fair flat surfaces of the wood. one tool that makes things much easier is a workmate work bench to hold the blank while you cut and carve.

Jigsaw - to get the general shape of the paddle.

Planes - 6" and a little block 3" plane for finetuning the edges. I have to admit than after making 6 paddles with hand planes, I found that my investment ($60-70) in a power plane sped the work up quite a bit. Go slow with power plane since you can make mistakes faster.

Spokeshave - especially the rounded face makes tackling the shoulders easier.

Sanding - 80, 150, 220, in progression.

Have fun. You’ll probably end up doing several after the first to find that elusive perfect paddle.


Paddle tools
I’ve been playing around with making some single-blade canoe paddles lately. I imagine the tools used would be similar to a GP.

I find the most important hand tools to be: scrub plane, smoothing plane, and a spokeshave. Important power tools are a band saw and a thickness planer (or access to them).

I use the planer to reduce thickness to the desired dimension and the band saw to cut out the profile. After I’m done with those two machines I’m “unplugged” - using hands tools. There is something deeply satisfying about working wood with traditional hand tools. Yes, you can sort of “gnaw out” a paddle using crude tools like surform rasps and belt sanders. But the process and outcome are generally less rewarding – well, for me at any rate. My 2 cents.


Good vido!
Let me know when it is finished. I do believe that I would like a copy.




Spokeshave & Horse
I glue up a blank and rough cut it with a jig saw. Then I put it into a homemade shaving horse and use a spokeshave. I have a calipers to measure thicknesses of various points. Then move onto sandpaper, still using the horse.

I love the shaving horse. I have a small TV in my workshop, my shaving horse in front of it. When I need to escape from the family I turn on the tube and make wood curls while sitting on the horse.

I’d recommend to anyone, if you’re going to make a paddle start by making a shaving horse first.

Second the shaving horse
I built one and find it a great addition to the shop. After 25 paddles my most used tool is the spokeshave. $2 at a yard sale as I recall. I have band saws, planers, and power sanders but the spole shave is best for shaping things exactly the way you want them. Something soothing aout a growning pile of shavings at your feet.

That sounds great
I’ll be at a hotel with high speed later in the week. Here in Podunk VT it is still dial up in the hills. Thanks!

nice job!
The video looked great. I can’t wait to see the rest of it! I’m good at drawing lines but cutting it is where I screw it up. :slight_smile:

At a minimum…

– Last Updated: Nov-15-05 4:37 PM EST –

You need a saw and a plane of some sort, in addition to basic marking tools (pencil, square, straighedge). I also like to have a rasp or Microplane, but they're not necessary. You'll also want 80/100 grit, 150 grit and 220 grit sandpaper, with a hard block and a foam block.

Pull saws are excellent, but a typical push saw works fine. In power tools, a jigsaw works, but a band saw is best.

A block plane is the most useful, but larger smoother or jack planes and smaller "apron" planes can come in handy. I uses spokeshaves a lot.

Some people can carve a GP using nothing but a drawknife, but that's a lot more difficult.

The only difference between using hand and power tools is in the time it takes to make the paddle. The end result is the same either way.

Shaving horses are GREAT!!!
Made bows on one. Love 'em!

Bows are as in archery bow, not the front end of a boat silly! ;^)



Very cool!
And well done so far. I’ll be waiting in line to see this one finished too. You know, I think that’s the first picture on the net of you with your sunglasses off AND you’re not half or more underwater!

Whatever tools/level of technology you decide to use, make sure they’re sharp. No REALLY sharp. Dull tools will tear throught he wood, leaving ugly scars that can completely ruin your workpiece. If you’re not familiar with REALLY sharp, pick up Leonard Lee’s “The Complete Guide to Sharpening,” ISBN 1-56158-067-8. The chapter on planes (which includes spokeshaves) is worth every penny.


Thanks guys
Yeah Jim I don’t seem to be all that photogenic. Although I could use sunglasses in the vid since I have 3 150w bulbs pointed at me!

Well I’ll get back at it, it’s kind of a big task for me. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this and it Seems like I can’t talk as soon as I turn on the record button.


Superior Kayak’s video online…
Found this awhile ago…might of some help.