Ken's Kayak Pages

Euro Style Paddle

Click on a thumbnail for a larger image

This paddle is built from a design by Nick Schade as described in his book The Strip Built Sea Kayak.   Visit Nick's site at

pad01.jpg (38643 bytes) Paddle Wood - I used black walnut, mahogany, and sitka spruce for the paddles. Since I forgot to take pictures before I began, here are the remains, ready for the second paddle. 
pad02.jpg (46236 bytes) I stacked four 3/4" boards ripped to 2-3/4" wide x 21" long to produce a blank 2-3/4"W x 3"H x 21"L.  This is less than Nick's recommendation of 5 boards stacked 3-3/4"H, but the small bandsaw I had was limited to a 3" ripping height.  Add 2x3" + 3/4" at the tip for 6-3/4", and 2x3+ 1-1/2" at the root for 7-1/2" and you have a decently sized  blade.
pad03.jpg (48897 bytes) Glue has dried, and I cut a template for the paddle profile from some "thin" poster board (gotten from K-Mart).  I originally cut the template from some "real"  poster board I had laying around, but it mysteriously assumed a very straight shape . . .  Use the thinner cheap stuff, it actually holds it's cut shape . . .
pad04.jpg (31716 bytes) The next step was cutting the paddle blades from the prepared glueup of stacked lumber.  My bandsaw is a a bit undersized for this operation, and it made the job much harder than it should have been. After some careful maneuvering, 4 planks, which would become 2 paddles, saw the light of day.
pad05.jpg (44685 bytes) There are the 2 pairs of paddle blades ready for attachment to the 2 shafts (yet to be built). Some planing and sanding was required, but they are pretty much like peas in a pod because of the way they were constructed.   The spruce will be on the inside, to mate up with the spruce shaft.
pad06.jpg (40295 bytes) Here is where I deviated from Nick's guidelines the most.  Instead of scarfing the 2 paddle assemblies as recommended, I shortened the shaft halves to 45", for an overall paddle length of 90" - - I did route the "shaft hollowing" 1/2" cut, and intend to use it as a final adjustment for feather angle.  The 1/2" dia. hole through the center of the paddles is a natural for a 1/2" wooden dowel to align and hold the shaft together.  This, together with some glass and epoxy around the center of the shaft should provide adequate strength in this relatively unstressed area.  The oval wood area at the center needs to be trimmed to a circular cross-section, for appearance, to allow for various feathering angles.
pad07.jpg (50009 bytes) Glueup of 1/2 of the shaft, showing the 1/2" wood dowel temporarily inserted into the center of the shaft for alignment purposes. I Didn't allow the dowel to become fast glued in place at this time.  I moved it now & again, and withdrew it before the final cure.
pad08.jpg (28991 bytes) This is what my first 1/2 shaft looked like after gluing together.  It is important that the routed 1/2"dia hole lines up for attaching the shafts and setting the feathering angle.
pad09.jpg (54603 bytes) Here I've begun shaping a shaft before the attachment of the paddle blades.  I found it much easier to shape the shaft before inclusion of the paddles, in that no obstructions exist for the planes employed. I could shape to the design lines easily in this way.
pad10.jpg (54962 bytes) This represents a nearly completed 1/2 shaft, fully shaped and planed, only in need of final sanding.  Since I did not have a spokeshave, which would have helped in fairing the top of the shaft to the paddle lines, I used a utility knife (It worked great!).  The curves and relations in this "simple" shaft are actually fairly complex, and it REALLY helps to draw all lines on the shaft as you go.
pad11.jpg (48984 bytes) The first paddle stackup is now clamped to the shaft.  Since the paddle is so thin in cross section, lots of care must be exercised when centering the clamps on the assembly.  If you are careless, the assembly will simply pop apart (Been there, done that).
pad12.jpg (46991 bytes) Wow! Here's the second paddle half being assembled to the first.  That means there is a complete paddle half being born!  
pad14.jpg (47030 bytes) Here is a finished assembly which amounts to 1/2 of a finished paddle. The other is off camera and will be seen soon!
pad15.jpg (36850 bytes) After the Shafts and paddle halves were assembled, I traced a template for the shape of the paddles.  Here I am tracing the paddle shape onto the finished blank.
pad16.jpg (35126 bytes) Remember to flip the template for the two paddles - - They must be mirror images of each other as traced onto the paddle blanks.   When in doubt, put the 2 halves of the paddle together and observe the paddle blanks in an unfeathered configuration.
pad17.jpg (35932 bytes) A partially cut paddle.  The bandsaw was definitely more suitable for operations with thinner blanks of wood!  I kept outside the cut lines, and cleaned it up in the next operation with a small disk sander.
pad18.jpg (42760 bytes) Here, the paddles have been further smoothed by using a sanding disk to remove the bandsaw blade marks.  Further shaping will be by means of hand-powered sandpaper, to provide the regular curves and shape to the paddles.
pad19.jpg (35139 bytes) Planing, heavy-duty hand-sanding, and the occasional power tool were used to smooth and shape the first blade. This effort on one blade took an entire evening, but it is near perfect. I only have to do it one more time (for this paddle . . . )
pad20.jpg (64767 bytes) A close-up showing material removal, edge rounding, and the pointed bead along the top of the paddle.  I have been told that this bead is very necessary for the satisfactory performance of the paddle.
pad21.jpg (46092 bytes) A further close-up of the bottom of the paddle lest you doubt the quality of workmanship possible with this design . . .
pad22.jpg (32458 bytes) Another macro photo, showing a close-up of the pointed bead on the top of the paddle.
pad24.jpg (56607 bytes) The two paddle halves have been joined together with a 12" long x 1/2" dia wooden dowel epoxied into the center holes.  A 60 degree feather was selected as optimum for me, and you can see the feather in this photo.  The faces of the paddle blades have 4oz cloth epoxied onto their surfaces, and the center splice in the shaft has been glassed with a 6" wide layer of 6oz cloth.  An additional 4oz bias cut tape has been applied to the edges of the paddles. Some sanding and filling is next.
pad25.jpg (52463 bytes) The paddle has been sanded and 3 coats of varnish applied.  It joins the kayak, which was built in the interval between the last picture and this one!  It weighs in at exactly 2.7 lbs., not too bad considering the shaft diameter and the glassing employed.
pad26.jpg (55043 bytes) The paddle matches the overall appearance of the kayak pretty well . . .

Return to Kayak Home Page