April 15, 2013

How to Build a Canoe Paddle

A guide on how to build a lightweight laminated canoe paddle

Tonight a good friend and I started building a canoe paddle. We have been talking about this project for almost two years and tonight we dug in. We are building a ~54″ long paddle with a paddle surface of roughly 6″x24″ out of Cedar. Once the milling of the paddle is complete we will be fiberglassing it for additional strength and beauty.

We started by cutting a 7/8×3-1/2″x12′ into two 7/8″x1-1/2″x12′ strips. From the 1-1/2″ strips we cut two 60″ pieces that will become the shaft and handle (the shaft pieces are trimmed down at the time of glue up to the necessary height for the canoeist). These two pieces will run all the way down through the paddle. We then took the remain 1-1/2″ material and cut it into 24″ sections while grading out large open knots that would compromise the strength of the paddle. We made a total of six 24″ strips. The drops (scraps) from cutting the 24″ pieces left us with some perfectly sized, and clear of knot, pieces to use for the handle.

Below you can see the strips of cedar arranged and ready to be glued.

Cut Paddle Strips

Cut Paddle Strips Close Up

Learn more

Day 1 How we cut the Cedar strips for our lightweight canoe paddle.

Day 2 How we glued up Cedar strips for our lightweight canoe paddle.

Day 3 How I planed the Cedar strips for our lightweight canoe paddle.

Day 4 & 5 How I shaped the blank canoe paddle for our lightweight canoe paddle.

~Nathan
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