This book combines practical woodworking technique with practical canoe use experience... [It] covers every single aspect of canoe paddle building. -- Sawdust and Shavings
Despite the growing interest in making paddles and canoes, it can be difficult to find reliable information on that craft -- except for this book. First published more than a decade ago and having sold 35,000 copies, Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own is the ultimate modern guide to the traditional craft for both the how-to beginner and the skilled woodworker.
In Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own, longtime canoeist and woodworker Graham Warren provides detailed information and guidance to make a canoe paddle that will be used with confidence and cherished for generations.
The book is thoroughly illustrated with photographs, line drawings and plans with measurements for:
The authors include an appreciation of the evolution of the paddle plus a special chapter by renowned canoe-buuilding teacher David Gidmark which celebrates paddle-making in the native tradition.
Graham Warren has been building wood-canvas canoes and paddles since 1991. His articles on canoeing have appeared in many journals.
David Gidmark teaches canoe building in Wisconsin, New York, Tahiti and Quebec. His previous books include Building a Birchbark Canoe and Birchbark Canoe: Living Among the Algonquin. Gidmark and his wife live in Maniwaki, Quebec.
Introduction: Make your own paddles!
With the right instruction, even the very young can learn how to make their own paddles
Interest in paddle and canoemaking is today perhaps at an all-time high. Canoeists are fast rediscovering the intense satisfaction to be gained by creating their own equipment rather than merely adopting the often rather soulless stuff to be found down at the canoe store.
Fashioning a paddle is a small enough project that it will not cost the earth or devour all your spare time. On the other hand, the subject is sufficiently deep that it will provide a lifetime opportunity to develop your woodworking skills, to experiment with various designs or to research the rich historical context of the craft. When you make your own paddles, you are immediately connected with the roots of canoeing, roots that stretch back hundreds, even thousands of years. Indeed, in the past, probably few canoeists did not also build their own boats as well as paddles.
Taking the time to learn paddlemaking skills will ensure that you get exactly the paddle you want -- a perfect fit, the blade area that you need, created with a wood that you particularly like -- and all at a fraction of the price you pay for a store-bought paddle. And once you have mastered the basic skills, there are many directions you can take. You might want to progress to power tools and synthetic materials in the quest for the lightest or most efficient paddle. Or you might want to go in the opposite direction and recreate the native skills of paddlemaking with an ax and crooked knife, using wood that you have harvested yourself. Why not go on to make a range of paddles to suit all moods and water conditions or build a collection of native paddles, authentically decorated, to form a beautiful and unique display?
At first glance, a professionally made paddle might seem like the kind of thing that only a master craftsperson could produce -- and then only after years of practice. This is simply not the case. Even with modest woodworking skills, you should be able to get good results first time out. In a short while, you will gain a very different perspective on most commercial paddles: Why don't they balance properly? Why is the finish so poor? Why are hardwood paddles nearly always warped?
Creating something beautiful in wood evokes real satisfaction. If you have previously practiced home woodworking limited within the confines of the straight line and right angle, you are in for a liberating experience. Although you may initially find the move away from the security of the ruler and set square a bit scary -- like a first trip into the wilderness without a guide -- it will ultimately become a delight. You will soon find yourself navigating through the wood freely, guided by touch and light.
Making a beautiful paddle is not that difficult. Forming its graceful curves is a technique, not an art. In fact, with quite straightforward methods, you can get your tools to cut intricate curves as surely as any basic geometrical shape. You just need to be aware of the capabilities of your tools, learn to break down the complex paddle shape into a series of simpler ones and work not haphazardly but to a system.
Anyone can make a good paddle, and Canoe Paddles will show you the way.
Introduction Make your own paddles! Chapter One
Glossary Resources Suppliers of Materials Further Information