The Pack Report

How To Carve Your Own Wood Canoe Paddle

How to Carve Your Own Wood Canoe Paddle

Canoeing is a great form of physical activity, and in our opinion, just as important as an outlet for mental health. If you don’t have the necessary equipment to participate in canoeing, you can purchase it from Duluth Pack. Otherwise, you can build it at home by following the directions below.

Materials needed-

  • 6’ by 6” piece of wood – Any type of your choosing.
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Saw – Any power saw capable
  • Power Sander
  • 80, 100, 120 Grit sandpaper
  • Stain – optional
  • Varnish
  • Rag/Towel
  • Tarp or Plastic to lay on the ground

How to Carve a Paddle-

  1. Locate a piece of wood that is no smaller than 6 feet long and 6 inches wide. We recommend using a lighter hardwood such as ash, but any type you can find will do the job. Here are some different types and their uses.

  1. Decide how long you would like the handle of your paddle to be. You do so by holding the wood in the same way you would grip a paddle. Make a mark where each of your hands would go using a pencil.

  1. Lay your wood down flat on a table and use a pencil to mark the two ends of your paddle.

  1. After you have marked the two ends, you need to trace the shape of your paddle onto the wood. Determine the length of the shaft using the measurements you have already come up with in step 2. You want the blade to be anywhere from 12-16 inches.

  1. Make sure the shape you have outlined on the wood is the correct shape you want your final paddle to be.

  1. Using a power saw (a circle saw usually works best), cut out your paddle carefully – following the pattern outline you drew on the wood.

  1. After your paddle is cut out, you need to use a power sander with 80 grit sandpaper to sand your paddle to the correct thickness and texture. When done using the power sander, repeat by hand-sanding with a sheet of 100 grit and then again with 120 grit; until everything is properly sanded and rounded.

  1. Double-check your paddle to make sure everything is smooth and looks exactly how you would like it to look.

  1. If you are planning on adding any carvings into your paddle, now is your time to do so. We would recommend using the Helle Viking Knife from Duluth Pack, or something very similar. You will want to carefully sand whatever you carve because you do not want any sharp points when paddling.

  1. If you are satisfied with the color of your paddle as is, you can skip this step. If you are planning on staining your paddle, you need to get a stain coloring of your choice. Brush an even coat of stain over the entire paddle. Using your rag or towel, wipe the excess stain off. Let sit for at least 24 hours to dry.

  1. To add varnish, you need to put a tarp or piece of plastic down so that it does not get all over your floor. You will need a mask similar to the one we have added here, to make sure you are not breathing in any toxic fumes.

  1. Add a smooth layer of varnish over the entire paddle. When you are done, hang the paddle up somewhere over a tarp so the extra Varnish can drip off and dry evenly – again waiting at least 24 hours.

Once these steps have been completed, your paddle is ready to hit the water!

If you are looking to build the canoe as well, here is a great, easy to follow, step by step method.

Happy paddling, friends!

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