By Glynn Sirmans - Milledgeville, Georgia - USA

Can’t use a canoe without a paddle, since starting my boat building career I was surprised that not many people build their own paddles. As with my boats, my paddle building gets better and better after each one I build. The most popular paddles for kayaking seem to be the one’s with curved blades. Curving the wood strips of my paddles has been my latest challenge.  My blades usually turn out to be 20 inches long. I drew a line 20 inches and then “offset” this line in the middle by one inch.  Using finishing nails and a piece of trim I marked off a nice curve.

For the strips of wood I used red-oak, probably not the best choice for forming curves but they worked O.K. with some “steaming”. I made a steamer from PVC pipe and an old Tea Kettle to cook these strips. I soaked them in water for about an hour first, and then cooked them till they were soft and pliable. To get the curve close to my “jig” I would bend them over my knee till they where cool. (One at a time)

Once they were all “dried” and “formed” I coated them with Epoxy (with wax paper between them) and clamped them together so each one would harden to the exact same curved shape.

I used Cedar for the handle to keep the weight down, the handle was made by gluing 1 inch by 2 inch stock together, (red-oak strip down the middle) I used the table-saw to cut this down to a octagon shape and finished up with a hand-plane to make it round. A lot of sanding had to be done to finish the “rounding”.

This paddle turned out to be 4 pounds; I couldn’t resist adding some wood-burn art as a finishing touch.

Isn’t boatbuilding grand…..


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