How to Make a Wooden Kayak Paddle

It is needless to describe the importance of paddles for kayaking. They are available in many forms, such as plastic, wood, fiberglass, etc. Until the discovery of fiberglass models, wooden paddles were the most popular ones. Still, many paddlers use them because they offer some amazing benefits. They are strong yet lightweight.

Due to the flexible shafts, the users feel less fatigue. Most importantly, if the wood quality and construction are good,  they remain usable for years. And for these advantages, they are a little bit pricey.

But the good news is you can make your own paddle within less time. You will only need the required items and knowledge about how to make a wooden kayak paddle. Let’s dive into the procedure.

DIY Wooden Paddle with Seven Simple Steps

Step 1: Determine the Length of the Paddle

You can not expect the best performance without choosing the right-sized paddle. It mainly depends on your height and the canoe’s width. The owners of wide kayaks, as well as tall users, require longer shafts. For example, a 220cm paddle works best with narrow boats for an average height person. If he has a broader boat, the recommended fishing kayak paddle length is 230-240cm.

How to Make a Wooden Kayak Paddle
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Step 2: Collecting the Supplies

  • The paddles can be made from different woods. Not all can handle the pressure of passing through water for a couple of journeys. You may end up with your broken paddle in the middle of the river and fail to come back. That’s why you need some durable pieces only. The western red cedar and Sitka spruce are said to be very sturdy. Also, you can pick other robust, lightweight, and shock-resistant options like Ash.
  • The first cutting machine popping up in our mind is the jigsaw. Since it can make precise cuts, it is best for the beginners. Besides, a circular saw can fulfill your need.
  • A wood paddle achieves the optimum functionality when it is combined with 2-ounce fiberglass. It will not add significant weight but give the paddle more strength.
  • Next, we need parachute cords. They consist of lightweight nylon strands and give incredible support.
  • Waterproof PVA glue is required to join different parts. Make sure to buy waterproof glue. Otherwise, the water may separate the glued joints.
  • Epoxy resin is one kind of polymer having impressive resistance characteristics. It prevents corrosion, which we will face during paddling. A varnish kayak fishing can make the paddle more scratch-proof.
  • A Right angle grinder is a small tool. They are capable of stripping layers from wood and even metal objects.
  • Moreover, we have to bring a drawknife, a marker, sandpaper, paintbrush, scissor, and clamps.

Step 3: Cutting the Curves

Marking the outline with a marker is our first phase. You can maintain either a symmetric or asymmetric shape. Both sides of symmetrical blades are similar to each other. They are mainly for white-water paddling. They may not be ideal for touring paddlers. When it comes to an asymmetrical blade, one side is slightly narrower than the other.

Such edges go deeper into the water as well as maintain superior maneuverability. We suggest going to the asymmetric type. Remember, the thickness of the blades are not the same everywhere. They become thinner at the corners. Cut at least 5 or 6 blades and choose the top kayak paddle pair.

Step 4: Preparing the Shaft

Take your draw-knife, spoke-shave, and Ash. You have to build a 1 1/8 inches thick shaft or thicker according to your need. Check whether your grip is compatible with the shape. Prioritize feathered paddle over the regular paddle. Both blades are positioned at a different angle from each other. It matters a lot to survive in windy conditions.

With this feature, you will feel less wind resistance. A scarf can help you out in this situation. Cut the scarf at a suitable angle such that it forms an angular difference between the blades. You may like to taper the ends to give it a nicer look.

Step 5: Preparing the Blades

You need to glue the blades at the end of the shaft. Note that all of your efforts will go in vain without proper alignment. Assemble the sharp tips with the thin side of the blade. Clamp them well to lock the position until the glue dries. Flatten out the curves of the power face with your spoke-shave. After finishing the outer side, it is the time for the sculpting. It may seem challenging, especially when you are doing it for the first time.

The right angle grinder will assist in re-shaping the blades. The edges should be sufficiently thin to go into the water smoothly. On the contrary, keeping the middle portion the thickest will supply maximum kayaking power. Don’t make them thicker than ⅛-inch. Then, cover them with the rugged layers of epoxy resin. Wa000rm up the resin a little bit and then apply equally. Leave them for a while to dry out.

Step 6: Reinforcing with Fiberglass

It is our most favorite part of the whole process. You can’t imagine how gracefully it affects your speed and performance. Cut the fabric using a scissor. The shape should be a little bit larger than the paddle’s side. Place it on the paddle and cut out the extra portions. Sightly heat the epoxy and pour in the middle. Then distribute uniformly towards the edge.

Do not thicken this layer for keeping the blade lightweight. The fabric will be absorbing the resin gradually. The finished look should be matte, not shiny. You can put more layers for a stronger tip.

Step 7: Finishing

If the scarf does not fit, there is a risk of getting non-straight blades. Shape it as per need and perform sanding afterward. Do the same for the whole paddle. Once the surface becomes smooth, cover it with epoxy. And that’s all. The lightweight, comfortable, and professional-grade paddle is ready for use.

Final Words

Instead of spending cash on random paddles, invest effort in making your own paddle. It is not only cost-efficient but also satisfactory. In fact, it is the best method to personalize our water trips. So, give it a try, and we guarantee you will not regret it.

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