Sunday, 25 September 2011

Ottertail - Walnut

Sorry for the delay, i hurt my arm and because of it the next post may take a bit as well.

I finally got a day off and decided to take a crack at the Ottertail walnut. I posted before about the importance of proper set up on tools and knowing how to sharpen your tools. I bought a Japanese combo water stone and touch up my tool only to find out they were super blunt. Using them now makes for easy work that is much more enjoyable. I also bought a new blade (better steel) for my spokeshave.

When i was canoeing a feel weekend ago i notice my normal paddle was a bit short when in the canoe alone. So  I focused on creating the perfect solo paddle; light, oiled, and a long paddle.

I also created a different grip, i don't know what kind of grip it just something i came up with. I also spent a lot more time on thinning out the blade. I found the last one i made, to heavy for long trips.

When i was thinning out the blade i found an old knot that was right in the center of the blade. Since i had planned to oil this one i wasn't sure what i was going to do. I decided that i would use the two part epoxy i bought for a future project and would fill the hole. I added some of the sawdust from the paddle into the mix and it made it look almost natural ( take a look at it in the final picture).

After some the regular sanding ( 60 grit, 90 grit, 120 grit), i cleaned up my workspace of shaving and dust and started the oiling process. Look great to me, i will have to try that new paddle oil that Murat posted about when i run out of the Tung oil that i bought.

If you ever want me to expanded on anything in my posts, throw me a quick comment and i will tell you what i know. I'm no expert but i have learned a few things along the way. 

Friday, 9 September 2011


Paduk and Ash
I have updated every paddle that i have made so far, so i thought i would just put what I'm working on  and i will post when their done. Work is slowing down so i should be able to get three more done before colder weather. One being the Walnut (first time doing an oil finish) and the other being a Paduk and Ash combo (first stab at laminating a paddle). I also have some curly maple strips i plan to work in. If you have anything you have done that you want to share send it this way and ill throw it up for you. Its always nice seeing other peoples paddles and skills.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Ottertail- Redtail store bought

My store bought paddles finish was starting to crack. So i thought it would be a perfect opportunity to put my own touch on the paddle. I like this paddle for shallow rivers because of it resin tip. Ill be trying to put a resin tip on one of my next paddles, I've already bought the materials and devised a plan to do it.

When i first bought this paddle i wanted to put my middle name right down then center, so that's what i did. I sanded down the paddle blade added my paint and resealed the paddle with polyurethane.

I wanted to try wood burning and I had bought a cheaper wood burning kit but the only thing got burned was my wallet because it was a piece of junk.

Over all though i was happy with the result.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Beavertail- Basswood

Marked out
This one came from a bit of inspiration from my childhood and seeing Murat put in on  a paddle. We use to have a cottage up on Six Mile lake, and as we grew up my parents would measure our height on the door.

This paddle is for my nephew and his mom (who loves the outdoors as well) . I made it for mothers day. I made it so that they could measure his height on the paddle and when he was old enough he could use it. After I finished I found out that Max's dad had a similar thing at his cottage, but only when the child can stand on their own are they allowed to be measured.

I used basswood because its very simple to work with. I also think a paddle should be used,  but once there's that much importance on it i don't know if they would use it. So it most likely being decorative I used the basswood.

With such nice weather outside I invested in two cheaper work horses and started to have some fun outdoor. I also picked up an electric planer to take on the brunt of the wood. I like making things with hand tools but I shattered my arm into 14 pieces in the summer and its the electric planer makes its easier on my arm.

I slimmed down the blade, shaped the shaft and tried a new grip; a more store bought style.

I must say this is my favorite paddle when it comes to shape, weight and feel.

I finished the paddle off by adding a Max's name on the side so that he can be measured up the right of the paddle. I also didn't focus on being neat because it will keep that childhood feel to it.

I gave the paddle to Max's mom unfinished and told her to measure him and to bring it back when it needed to be finished.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Algonquin- Poplar

Algonquin Blank
I wanted to make an Algonquin style paddle with a type of wood that comes from the woods that I spent my summers in. I wanted birch but was not able to find it, so I got the one that was closest. 
Poplar was a close second and was very affordable. 

I cut out the blank, which I later realized I messed up and made a more squared tip then normal for an Algonquin paddle. I did however like it and left it. 

Note the Paddle on the Right
I also wanted to try and create something similar to a bobble grip. Not to perfect though, mainly because making a perfect sphere with a rasp was harder to do at the time. Also, I can't imagine that the paddle of the Algonquin tribe made would be perfect. 

The paddle sat for a while until I could figure out what I wanted to put on this paddle.  It seemed fitting to put on a moose silhouette. I love nature silhouettes because I'm not that artistic and they have a very impact. You will see more on future paddles until I sharpen my artistic skills.

I used a pre stain for the first time and a very glossy polyurethane finish. Pre stain is a must for all my future paddles, it makes the finish go on evenly.

I tried this ones when I was out canoeing with some kids from the camps and its great! I still think I could have taken off more but it had a bit of knot in the shaft so I kept it a bit thicker. The knot gave the shaft a cool look and held up so I was happy.

Happy Paddling (Get some more in while the weather's nice) 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ottertail- Ash

Five soon to be blanks
So after a bit of a struggle trying to find the place I bought my first blank. I decided that it would better to just learn how to make the blank.

I ended up buying this book :

 Once you have a design all you need is a nice piece of wood, a pencil, a straight edge and something to cut it with.

I ended up buying a cheaper band saw from Canadian Tire and it didn't make it through the first cut of Ash. When I took it back the would not refund my money and did not have anything in stock to switch it with. After a lot of complaining they refunded my money. Home Depot has a much better return policy so I got a band saw there, and I haven't had an issue yet .
Ash Blank

I would however would have bought a bigger used saw, rather then a small new one.

I found a nice place called Exotic woods in Burlington (lots of looking) that sells tons of different types of woods, finishing products and an extremely knowledgeable staff.

I picked up a walnut piece, two ash pieces and two poplar pieces. Place is a bit of a drive so I got a few different types. 

After planing the blade, shaping the shaft (kept it a bit more square for a different feel and I love it) and shaped the grip and then it was onto the finish and art.

Note the dark handle before sanding
After seeing the Badger Water Colour finishes,  I decided no art and to try a new blue finish. The only problem was that I wanted to see the wood grain. My goal was to have a light blue paddle with darker blue wood grain.

The product I found said it would do that but I did not use pre-stain so it didn't work.  So instead I sanded the whole paddle down and tried to keep the wood grain blue. It was a longer process but it looks awesome.

I finished it off with a few coats of Polyurethane. I tried it out this spring and again I wish I had have taken more off the blade. I still may do that but I have too many paddles on the go at this moment.

Blade close up

Finished paddle, it looks black but its actually a nice Blue

Sunday, 4 September 2011

First Paddle

Basswood blank
As mentioned before i picked up a basswood paddle blank from the adventure show in Toronto. Here's a picture on the right.

If your looking for  a guide on how to make a paddle i would suggest buying one of these two books:


Octagon shaft before rounding
Both great books with lots of paddle designs for balnks. Try Marat's blog, no need to type it out again.

I was lucky enough to have a brother who was a carpenter so he had some tool lying around that he didn't mind me using. I only ended up having to buy an extra  clamp, a spokeshave, rasp, polyurethane satin finish and a bit of sand paper.

Tool in my arsenal at the time were:
  • Hand plane
  • Block plane
  • Two speed clamps 
  • Spokeshave
  • Various types of sand paper
  • Football Grip 
  • Course rasp 
I wish i had have bought a combo waterstone from Lee Valley like i did recently, rather then assume everything was sharp.  If your going to try making a paddle, the first skill you should learn is how to properly sharpen and care for your tools . It will make the whole experience more enjoyable.

I used the spokeshave to create an octagon for the shaft, I used a rasp to shape the grip into what i call the football grip and the plane to shape the blade down.

Its important to know the density and strength of the wood so, you can understand how thin you can make it. I kept  it a bit thick  due to it being basswood .

Blade thickness. Wish i had made it thinner
This  website will give you a good idea of what wood to look for:

Other good websites out there but i like this one.

Now to creating the art and the finish, since seeing a moose in the wild i have always had a respect and love for them. So i thought what better then moose track across the paddle. came up with the idea when playing with a crayon on a Jack Asstores on their table.

Many people use wood burning kits but because i do not have one, I used a bit of paint and then finished the paddle off with  some polyurethane satin finish. Be sure to use pre stain its worth the extra 5 bucks to have a nice finish.

    Without a Paddle

    I decided to create a blog about canoe paddle making, similar to the Paddle making (and other canoe stuff) blog. After the joy I got from reading about Murats experiences and concepts I decided that I would take a stab at a blog.

    Bit About Me 

    I have always had a love for the Outdoors and because of it I have pursued a career in Outdoor Education. I spent many of my summer up in the bush around the Northbay as a child. My father was the one who first introduced me to canoeing on our small lake.

    How It Started

    When I taught a group of high school kids the basic strokes for canoeing, their teacher asked me if I had ever made my own paddle . I had never thought of it before, but talking with him he explain its not too hard if you can get a blank that's already cut.

    About a year later I was at the Adventure show in Toronto with my girlfriend and when we were walking by the displays there was a guy making a paddle. After talking with him for a bit I ended up picking up a basswood blank for 20 bucks and the rest is history (now I'm hooked).

    I have made a few paddles and picked up some fun tools and books along the way. In future post I will put up the paddles I have made and anything I have discovered along the way.