Thursday, June 14, 2007

Making a Greenland Paddle

In early May, I helped organize a workshop for KNL members interested in making a Greenland paddle. Darren McDonald generously arranged access to a wood shop for us to work in. Brian Duffett, who has made many Greenland paddles of different designs, joined us and shared his experience and advice.

Most of us started with the paddle design instructions of Chuck Holst (available free at and the free instructional video by Matt Johnson (at Thanks to Chuck and Matt for sharing their knowledge and helping others.

We bought our wood, calculated the paddle dimensions in relation to our body size, and laid out the dimensions on the wood. We made the rough cuts along the outline of the paddle. Then started the slow and steady use of a plane, spokeshave and/or drawknife to carve the wood to the right shape.

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to laminate several different kinds of wood together to make my paddle (spruce, cedar and virola). Why do it, when you can overdo it! I glued the pieces together with epoxy resin (left over from kayak building last year). Below is the paddle, cut out in one dimension, with the dimension lines marked on in pencil. It looks pretty square!

You can see the lines that mark the shape that needs to be planed to. In this photo, the bottom side has been planed to the line, and the board flipped over. I now need to plane the top side to the line.

Below you can see the start of the process of planing the bevel into the face of the paddle blade. I used a block plane for the paddle faces and a spokeshave for carving the shoulders and the loom (round part in the middle of the shaft).

I will continue this in a later post and show you how the paddle turned out.

1 comment:

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