Regarding GP carving:

Wow! I’m beat - what an upper body workout. I spent the morning rough shaping my glued-up blank (Red Oak and Aspen) by hand, with a draw saw and a bench plane. Impressive pile of shavings though. Still have to get the loom down to size and remove the extra wood from tehe blades. I suggest doing hand labor when the humidity is lower than 95%.


I did 90% of mine with an electric
hand plane , belt sander, and a RO Sander. Not much sweat.

I used hand tools
for my first couple greenland paddles and really enjoyed the proccess and the smell of the western red cedar but my joints took a beating and that cut into my paddling time. Now I use a table saw, hand power planer and a belt sander and it takes the fight out of making one and lets me enjoy more paddling time. Enjoy making your next 20 paddles. It’d hard to sop.

Hey aren’t you guys suppossed to shape the paddle with your teeth.

No, that’s just qajaq ribs. NM

Since you weren’t paddling
At least you got a workout…

I did my first all by hand and doing the wedges with a Japanese pull saw was the hardest work IMO. My second I used Matt Johnson’s idea from and did the wedges with a plane. Worked much better. I did most of the shaping with a random orbital sander. Worked well but I was using western red cedar which is much softer than your wood.

I still had trouble with the taper for the blade edges (but that will go away on the next one now that I have an awesome Bosche jigsaw). Seems all my projects are really expensive since they almost always require a new tool:-)

Saw vs Jack Plane
I hand sawed the wedges on my first side. Switched to all plane on the other. Plane was a lot faster. Second paddle (laminated with T88) all plane.

Big plane, smaller low angle block plane, and spokeshave my favorite for paddles. May try a drawknife next time for initial material removal. Japanese pull saws for most of the qajaq frame work.

Jigsaw caveat
I also have a Bosch jigsaw which I used on my first paddle, I quickly found out that even with a good saw, blade flex and wander can be a problem in thick wood. I ended up having to make the loom smaller than I wanted due to a wandering cut on the bottom side. As long as you leave some material between the cut line and the saw (1/16" or so) and don’t use too much forward pressure when cutting, you should be fine.

blade flex and wander
Oh yeah! That was the inspiration of my shoulderless storm paddle! Luckily a happy accident in the end.

Think I may be keeping the jigsaw away from paddle blanks in the future. I prefer the feel and control of unpowered hand tools anyway - and things go fast enough. I would make an exception for a good bandsaw though. Haven’t needed power sanders as the plane and spokeshave don’t leave much finishing to do.

Bandsaws (drool)
I want one. I am leery of the $99 models from Ryobe and Delta though. Barely enough capacity for cutting the blade face tapers, and I am not impressed with the rigidity of the tables. So far I have not been able to justify the purchase of a good one for work (dang!) so for now I will be a hands-on paddle maker.


I usually find the more power I have
the bigger the mistakes I make. I have a hard time not getting “carried away” when using my band saw or power planer. But I love not using a jig saw! Power planers are great too but I find I don’t knock that much time off the project (but I do burn less carbs) because you need to be so careful not to take too much off. The band saw on the other hand is a big time saver and you find all sorts of other uses for it. I have a 1 1/8 HP band saw and it’s plenty enough for 2x4s.

New Bandsaw, old one burnt up.
Still haven’t used it yet except for some test cuts, but I will soon. As usual it’s made in China but it does have a 12" cast iron deck and all roller bearing saw guides.

Bandsaw wanders, jig saw not
My old Craftsman bandsaw gives me wantering problems (my falt for not knowing how to set it up right), so I leave a 1/8" leeway from the lines on the wedge cuts, then finish it down to the line with a jack plane. My Bosch jig saw is used for the bowtie cuts, and never has wandered - it’s a peach!

I use block plane and spokeshave from there.

If a bandsaw wanders…
…it’s usually because the guides are not set up properly. There should be no more than a few thousandths of an inch between the side guides and the blade and no more than 1/64" between the rear roller and the blade. Low blade tension will also increase wander. Blades that have excessive set in the teeth will cut a wide kerf that can make it difficult to make straight cuts.

It looks like a Rikon saw
From what I’ve seen, they’re outstanding saws for the price, much better than the cast-frame crap that many companies have been selling for decades.

Band saws are ideal…
…for cutting out paddles. You need to spend $200 or so for a decent 9-10" saw, $350 or so for a decent 14" saw. Rikon makes some great saws at excellent prices. There’s also the used tool market to consider. Outstanding deals can often be had if you’re patient and persistent.