Wooden Paddle

Length of Project:
Project theme:
Suitable for grades:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • Red or Yellow Cedar
  • Sandpaper – 100, 150, 220
  • Pencils: 4B, HB and a red pencil
  • Eraser (gum erasers work best)
  • 1 meter ruler
  • Tracing paper
  • Thick construction paper (heavy weight that holds up to tracing)
  • Tape
  • Flexible clear ruler (knitting ruler)
  • Rubber mat (cupboard liner)
Tool list
  • Clamps (c-clamp and f-clamp)
  • Hand saw
  • Draw knife
  • Block planer
  • Skew
  • Straight knife, slight bent knife
  • Palm Sander or Orbital Sander
  • Safety goggles
  • Ear protection
  • Dust mask
  • Safety boots
  • If available:

  • Large spoke shaver (VERITAS brand – Lee Valley #05P33.90)
  • Round spoke shaver (VERITAS brand – Lee Valley #05P33.03)
  • Concave spoke shaver (VERITAS brand – Lee Valley #05P33.11)
  • Electric Planer (Mastercraft brand – 3 1/4” camp)

    This procedure can be used for any size paddle whether a small dance paddle or a full size ocean or river paddle

  1. Choose a piece of clear edge grain cut red or yellow cedar (minimal knots).
  2. Measure and draw the centre line around the entire length of the plank (front and back).
  3. Trace a template of the wood onto a piece of thick paper. Again measure and draw centreline.
  4. Draw half of a paddle shape onto the thick paper template; then trace it onto the opposite side.
  5. Cut out the paper template, and then lay it on the cedar plank. Line up the CL (centre line) on both ends tape down.
  6. Trace the template onto the cedar plank.
  7. Cut out the paddle using a band saw; use the drawn lines as a guide; cut on the outside of the drawn line (a jigsaw can also be used if there is no access to a band saw).
  8. With a RED pencil measure the CL all the way around the edge of cut out paddle, Then measure a quarter thickness from CL, on either side of the CL line, and mark all the way around with a different pencil – other than red).
  9. Using a hand saw draw a line where your handle will be placed. Cut down to ¼ line.
  10. Note that the thickness of the handle will be determined by the thickness of the cedar. DO NOT CUT TO THE CENTRE LINE.
  11. Lay down rubber mat on desk and then attach cut paddle onto desk or working area. Prop one side of paddle up, and attach opposite end with a C-clamp or F-clamp so that paddle will not slip.
  12. Working with the wood grain

  13. Wood grain is how the cells of the wood arrange themselves, or align, creates textured, and how they appear to you. Generally speaking the ideal grain for these paddles are cut so that the edge grain is vertical and run straight from grip to blade tip.
  14. The wood grain runs from end to end of the paddle
  15. On the side of the paddle the grain primarily runs from the blade to the grip
  16. When working on the edges of the blade work away from where the the blade is at its thickness. The edge gain on the sides are exposed – so working in the direction of the blade is needed on about the ¼ inch of the blade surface
  17. When working on the edges of the blade work away from where the the blade is at its thickness. The edge gain on the sides are exposed – so working in the direction of the blade is needed on about the ¼ inch of the blade surface.
  18. End Grain: When you are carving the grip of the paddle you will be working with the end grain. Sharp tools are crucial to the success and finding the direction which is easy will help this more enjoyable. When going across the end grain here I usually pick up the Skew, a type of knife that has an angle to it, to make is easier.
  19. Starting at the throat of your blade and working to the tip use a block planer or the draw knife to take off material. The idea here is to leave it thicker at the throat area and slim towards the blade tip. Angle the blades of either the block planer or draw knife just a bit for a smoother and easier cut.
  20. With a Draw Knife
  21. With a Block Planer
  22. Once you have it the blade and the throat of the paddle to the desired thickness it is time for the grip. Secure the paddle to your table and use both hands to do this part. I use a skew here for cutting across the end grain here. You can wet the grip here with a little water to make the cut a bit easier. Before you cut measure the the center on both sides and the end as they will be the guide. Draw on the desired shape and then cut – stop short of the end so you don’t tear the sides of the grip.
  23. Draw on the the center lines and the shape of the paddle grip
  24. Use a skew to cut across the grain on the grip
  25. Once completed cut in the thumb areas out – either with your bandsaw or straight knife
  26. The final step is to sand the paddle you just created. Use a palm sander, orbital sander or a block of wood with sand paper wrapped around it. Start with 100 grit and do the whole paddle from blade tip to grip. And keep moving up in grit - 150, 180 and a final sanding by hand with 220.
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