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      Choosing a paddle...     

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06/18/2017 08:49PM
I am looking to purchase a bent shaft paddle. Who can school me on the finer arts of selecting a paddle based upon pertaining factors...
 
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06/19/2017 05:00AM
For the sake of context, I will tell you that I have 2 bent shaft paddles. One is bent at 12 degrees and the other at 11 degrees. I am not a competitive racer. I have used a 14-degree bent shaft, but I did not like it compared to the smaller angles. A small change in angle makes a difference in ergonomics, apparently.

Cliff Jacobson, in his book "Canoeing and Camping: Beyond the Basics" writes the following on page 64 (3rd edition, 2007):
"Fourteen-degree bends are popular, but 12-degree bends encourage better control and a higher, more relaxed sitting position. Nearly all competitive racers use 12-degree bent paddles. Bends of less than 10 degrees don't offer much advantage over a straight shaft."

The length of the bent shaft paddle is generally shorter relative to a straight shaft paddle because of the way that it is used. Jacobson gave a rule of thumb that bents should be about 2 inches shorter, but this is not an inflexible measurement. The Grey Owl Paddles website takes a different approach to sizing.
cooke350
distinguished member (128)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/20/2017 08:30AM
I've found that everyone has their own preference. I like bent shaft, one of my paddling partners likes straight. Both of us have done many canoe trips over the years. I've even paddled with a kayak paddle and actually like it quite a bit!

Every one of my paddles are different styles and lengths. My favorite is one I built myself, with a bent shaft. I can't remember the exact angle I used, but I'll try to check it tonight if I remember. Since I built it, I've tweaked the blade shape a couple of times and shaped the shaft and handle more to my liking. It's dialed in now!
06/20/2017 08:42AM
I have a genuine craftsman from my church who can build anything. I would like to ask him to make me a paddle but not sure what to give him to go off of. Is there a plan online somewhere? How about what you used? What kind of wood would be durable but lighter. I could copy cat one I find for sale somewhere but truly the closes good paddle is actually almost two hours away from me.
cooke350
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06/20/2017 10:49AM
quote Richwon4: "I have a genuine craftsman from my church who can build anything. I would like to ask him to make me a paddle but not sure what to give him to go off of. Is there a plan online somewhere? How about what you used? What kind of wood would be durable but lighter. I could copy cat one I find for sale somewhere but truly the closes good paddle is actually almost two hours away from me. "

I took a class that gave the basics. It was cool to see how everyone's designs and styles made the paddles turn out different. Some of the wood was soft and some hard, but can't remember exactly which ones. I have the list of woods I used at home, so I'll post it if I have time tonight.

Basically, you cut the individual pieces on a table saw, then glue & clamp them together overnight. Then, cut the design out with a jig saw. After that, it was a lot of sanding and planing, and sanding and planing, and sanding some more, and planing some more, and, well, you get the idea! Lots of hours put into mine!
RLancer
senior member (67)senior membersenior member
 
06/20/2017 11:18AM

I took a class that gave the basics. It was cool to see how everyone's designs and styles made the paddles turn out different. Some of the wood was soft and some hard, but can't remember exactly which ones. I have the list of woods I used at home, so I'll post it if I have time tonight.

Basically, you cut the individual pieces on a table saw, then glue & clamp them together overnight. Then, cut the design out with a jig saw. After that, it was a lot of sanding and planing, and sanding and planing, and sanding some more, and planing some more, and, well, you get the idea! Lots of hours put into mine!"


I started making some of my own canoe paddles and I've shied away from a laminated blade because of the whole gluing multiple pieces together. I'm worried about improper gluing. Still would like to try it. I finished my first paddle a few months ago and started a second and third single piece. Haven't had much time to work on it. Here's a somewhat poor picture of the paddle I completed:
cooke350
distinguished member (128)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
06/20/2017 12:59PM
quote RLancer:

I started making some of my own canoe paddles and I've shied away from a laminated blade "


Interesting! What type of wood did you use for the blade?

Here are some pics of mine throughout the process. The blade shape has changed since this, and I added a strip of fiberglass on the bottom.

The measurements are burned in with a soldering iron. I've always added measurements to my paddles for fishing, but I burned these in before finishing so they don't fade.

RLancer
senior member (67)senior membersenior member
 
06/20/2017 01:16PM
cooke350,
That is nice. The laminated blades are very pretty so thanks for the pics.
The blade is yellow pine and the shaft is reinforced with Walnut. This combo made for a stiff paddle. I used boiled linseed oil for the finish.

Richwon4,
Sorry for the distraction from the original intent but I was always told the better way to size a paddle is to sit down and hold the paddle so the blade is facing up. The shoulder of the blade should be between your nose and forehead. As mentioned earlier though, there are many different opinions on how to do it. From the few bent shafts I have used, I like the 12 degree bend the best. I don't know that I used a 14 degree bend.
RLancer
senior member (67)senior membersenior member
 
06/20/2017 01:26PM
The measurements burned in for fishing are a cool idea too. My brother always fishes when we go out so that would be nice for him. I think you gave me a birthday present idea...
Duluthian
member (36)member
 
06/20/2017 02:24PM
I've only built one paddle, but here is what I learned. Basswood makes a great wood for the shaft as it is light and durable. For the paddle, you want a combination of lighter/softer woods for the weight savings and hardwoods for the strength and durability on the outside of the paddle that will come into contact with rocks. For my paddle, moving from the inside out after the basswood shaft, I went with 2 strips of butternut, followed by 2 more strips of basswood, 2 small strips of mahogany, 2 more strips of basswood and then 2 strips of cherry on the outside.





Guest Paddler
 
06/21/2017 09:05PM
The one thing I look at is the rock guard. I have a grey owl and a bending branches. The bending branches has such a nice durable rock guard. That really puts them up on top for me. The carbon fiber ones I have held up amazing well. Granted I do try and be somewhat gentle with them. The problem with the grey owl or the rock guard on most paddles is the corners. There is not a lot of protection on the corners and after every year your trying to put another coat on the corners. What happens when you get bare wood is that the wood soaks up the water. Besides cutting down on the life of the paddle it also adds weight to the paddle. One solution is putting a piece of fiberglass on the ends. I had one that lasted quite a few years before needing the fiberglass replaced.

Happy Trails
06/22/2017 07:35AM
I noticed that the bending branches seem to be priced well for my budget. Do they all come with an adequate rock guard ect?
 
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