Spring had definitely sprung here in Maryland, the sun is out and the temperature is 81F. I stopped at a launch site on the Potapsco River in Daniels, Md yesterday and one of the many first signs of spring – a kayaker coming downstream after a 3 mile paddle. It turned out when she landed that she was a good friend. I stayed to help her land, and load her boat into her truck. Then head home to get to work.
I’m late getting my kayak ready for water. I started ‘carving‘ my third Greenland Style Paddle. Carving is a bit of a misnomer, though there are many methods, I primarily use a couple of hand-planes and for one set of cuts I do use a saber saw and do the finish smoothing with a sander. Some people do most of the cutting with a Band Saw. I made the first Greenland Style Paddle out of a Pine 2×4 bought at the local home improvement center, it’s colorful, but planing pine with its knots is tough. Once done it is heavy, and weight is an important factor when considering a kayak paddle.The second paddle I carved was a piece of Western Red Cedar (WRC), but a bit shorter than I like. For a comparison of paddle weights:
- 28.5oz. Werner all Carbon Fiber
- 29.7oz. Western Red Cedar (WRC) Greenland Style
- 51.9oz. Pine GSP
As you can see the Pine paddle is almost twice the weight of either of the other two, my arms get a workout with it! So last week I started on my third. instead of any links to sites, just google “greenland style paddle” and you will come up with many links. The difference between planing Pine and WRC is the difference between shaving ice and using a warm knife in a soft butter, another benefit – it has a better aroma. It took me many days to plane one side of one blade on the first Pine Paddle, but on the current project i planned all four sides in one short afternoon. No, it’s not ready to use yet, but the rough-out is finished.
The first step was to lay-out the cut lines, then plane the tapers on each end of the paddle, both sides. Then I cheated a little, and used a saber saw to cut the rough shape for the ends of the handle, or what we call the loom, and plane it down to rough size, sure I could paddle with it in this shape if we had a major flood, but it wouldn’t be comfortable to hold, and it is still heavier than the finished produce.
It may take me a couple of weeks of working in the evening to plane down all surfaces to a paddle shape, and the loom untill it is about fits my hands. Then I’ll put a light coat of finish, probably just one or two coats of Danish Oil, then paddle with it a few times to get the feel, and decide how adjust the final shape on the loom to fit my hands and the blades to balance it. I’ll then paddle with it for a few more hours until I’m completely satisfied. Then I’ll put on a couple of coats of a good Spar Varnish. (Then start planning my next one.)