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Building Some New Wood-Composite Paddles for 2020

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Wow, Brian:

As with your solo tripper thread, awesome detail and pictures, not to mention incredible craftsmanship. Just as I'm looking for information on paddle making to while away my winter work time, I come across your thread. How fortunate for me! I'm planning to make 4 straight shaft and 2 bent shaft paddles next week. I haven't made any before, but I have done glue-ups similar to your designs for other purposes. For your "feather" design, which I call herringbone (I like feather better) I do the glue-up all at once. I don't have a photo to share, but I will when I am back in that shop early next week. I've got a sketch of it here.IMG-2549.jpg
Basically, I have a flat base, with a fixed straight edge. I leave the other straight edge "loose" to accomodate different width glue-ups, but once that is determined, I clamp it in place leaving a little wiggle room for the individual strips. On one end, I have a fixed angle block. On the other end a moveable angle block (not shown in sketch). These blocks are cut at the same time on a miter saw at chosen angle. One side becomes fixed, other side moveable. Once all of the strips are coated with glue, put them in place and 2 bar clamps.

I ALWAYS dry fit any glue-up to make sure it looks right, and my clamps are all set.

I ALSO COAT THE FIXTURE AND LOOSE PARTS WITH A FAIR AMOUNT OF PASTE WAX.

I've also cut curves similar to your paddles with the free form curved stripes. I've done it in cutting boards, that I call "lazy river". Basically, I cut my curve out of 1/4" plywood. This I made longer than any project I envisioned using it on, with multiple curves, so I can pick a different section every time I use it. I have a piece of 1 by 6 that just serves as a spacer to lift the plywood off my project. The spacer is back from the plywood by 1/4-1/2" Using a flush trim bit with a bottom bearing, I follow the plywood template, cutting about 1/4" deep. Separate the two halves using a band saw or scroll saw. Trim the rough edge with the same router bit. I have it set so I don't have to change depth at all. I don't have any in progress pictures, but here's on of the router, bit, template, and finished glue-up. this gives me edges smooth enough for a tight fit with wood glue. No gap filling epoxy needed.IMG-2550.jpg
 
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Thank you for the kind words.

The only issue I have with gluing multiple layers (say 10+) is that the forces get "diluted" as the layers increase. Once you start doing too many at once, especially when you make a form like that, where the force is not at right angles ... the application of clamping force just starts to get lost or redirected. There is also the issue of getting all the pieces setup with glue and packed before it starts to skin .... that is the main reason I moved over to doing the "feather" stuff in 1" blocks, I find it easier to handle and a lot less setup, with tighter joints.

The jig I used previously is pretty similar, with pipe clamps (not shown) adding the clamp force.

DSC07595.JPG

It does work, I used that to produce the football insert on the Freedom 17 build .... but if I were to do that again, it would be done in chunks

DSC08403.JPG



On the "lazy river" river types and even others like the Feather or SunBurst paddles, the choice of glue versus epoxy is not usually a "gap filling" choice, it is largely an artistic choice ... the range of glues gives a variety of colourless/biege/brown tones with a very thin joint line, this is useful in cases where you actually want the joint to take "back stage". However, for the Feather/River and most cases where you have contrasting wood colours, I find a very dark delimiting line (at the joint) really enhances and makes the contrast between the woods "pop". That dark delimited line is usually epoxy thickened and tinted with a dark wood flour and cabosil and not clamped too tight.

In your example of the river type, a medium dark epoxy joint line would (in my opinion) make the river really pop and accentuate the joints and each strip, giving more flow to the wood. If you still have the form and a bit of time, try and see what you think ... it is a personal choice, but I like to think that those joints are an additional visual opportunity, not just a joint to hide.


Brian
 
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Brian:

I get what you're saying about using the glue joint to accent the wood strips. I've never done it, but plan to on my upcoming paddle build. The lazy river stripe I showed earlier is for a cutting board. I stay away from epoxy for cutting boards. I know it's food safe after full cure, just personal preference.

That feather on the football is outstanding. Really getting me excited about my next boat build. That's a ways off. Focusing on paddles now. I was going to do a run of 4 straight, 2 bent. Already have 2 friends found out I was making paddles, they both want one. Guess I should have kept my yap shut.
 
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I'm just getting my wood together, and looking at BB paddles, they seem to use basswood quite a bit. Made me wonder why, then I looked at wood density. Quite a range, from slightly lighter than cedar, to quite heavy. I have quite a bit of 8/4 laying around, for carving. One thing led to another, and next thing I know I'm doing density tests on lots of different candidates for my paddle build. Goes back to an old physics experiment I used to do. Certainly only as accurate as your set-up, but in any case, it will give you accurate comparisons from one sample to another.

Basically, cut strips of wood. Size doesn't really matter, only that they have a uniform cross section from one end to the other. I cut mine 1/4 thick, 3/4 wide, 10" long. The 10" length makes calculations easier. Put a strip in a tall container of water, make sure the strip isn't hung up on the side. Mark the water line.
IMG-2560.jpg
Divide length submerged by total length, gives you density in g/cm^3. So, if you use 10" length, you're simply moving the decimal place one to the left. Even if you're not super accurate, you can see which samples have the highest/lowest density. I tested basswood, walnut, cherry, eastern red cedar, 3 samples of western red cedar, and white pine. they are in that order in the picture below, highest to lowest. Unfortunately, my basswood is at the extreme high end of the chart I use.
IMG-2563.jpg
 
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Not sure if that is really a valid process Kliff .... it assumes that water is not re occupying (absorbing) into the displacement area. If you weigh those strips before and after immersion I think you will see quite a bit of water was absorbed, throwing the determination out the window.

You might be better off doing it directly by measuring L x W x T to get the volume and then just weighing the wood on a good kitchen scale. Then dividing the weight by volume directly.

Brian
 
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Well, I just finished my first paddle build. I was going to be ambitious, and make 4 straight shaft, and 2 bent shaft for myself and my wife. Then people started coming out of the woodwork asking me to make them bent shaft. Rather than say "no" I put bent shafts on hold. I also decided to just make two straight shaft. Nothing fancy, wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the process. Better to mess up two than 4. They're done up to the varnish point. The epoxy needs a couple weeks of cure time. I got really hung up on shaft length. My current paddles are all 5 hours away. Went with 35" & 33". Made one grip about 1/8" smaller than what's comfortable for me. Wife has small hands. Might drop the canoe in a local river that still isn't hard just to try em out.

I pretty much followed this thread, with a few minor tweaks. The center spine is cherry-walnut-cherry. I laminated a blank then ripped it for each side of the spine. I wanted to try this in preparation for bent shaft. I'm thinking do the same thing, just bend the laminations.
IMG-2574.jpg
 
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