Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Laminated paddles stronger?

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by sjmoore69, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. sjmoore69

    sjmoore69 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hey all,
    I'm carving some paddles out of a single piece of (Ash?). It is clear wood with no defects. I'm wondering if it would be better to laminate some wood together for strength or carve the paddles a little thicker?
    I'm sorry to say that I won't be carving them by hand (Please don't hate me), but using my CNC router instead. I'll be testing a picture carve at about .065" depth and plan on staining the relief. If it works I'm going to put some family pics on the paddles.
    Here are some pics of my design and test carve of the backs.
    paddle carve 2.jpg DSCF1862a.jpg DSCF1864a.jpg
  2. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    You got a CNC router? Cool. I would think any laminated piece of wood to be stronger than any non-laminated. Floor joists come to mind. But ash makes for a very nice paddle and strong enough. I've made paddles of cedar, ash, and cherry. Please report back on your tests.
  3. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?


    And as you are testing, keep in mind overall weight and balance. Balance is important.
  4. OP

    sjmoore69 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'm not sure if it's Ash. The limbs and leaves were burnt before I got my sawmill to it. It smells. But it's got a quilted sheen to it. Very attractive.
    I'll post some pics as soon as I get the front carved.
  5. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Bingo! It is indeed very possible to make a canoe or kayak paddle that is a truly lovely example of woodworking, but also a truly awful paddle.

    A good piece of solid wood, be it ash, spruce, cherry ,maple or many other woods is plenty strong enough to make a great canoe paddle that will work for decades. Laminating can usually make a stronger one if needed, or can be used where a single piece without flaws is not available, but is certainly not required to make a tough paddle.
  6. David Niles

    David Niles Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Laminated paddles can be made stronger by choosing vertical grain for core

    I agree with Todd that for single blades, lamination is probably overkill. Possible exceptions are thin cedar or pine blades. Laminations also reduce the flex of the paddle, a trait my old shoulders desire more every year. A seemingly heavy hardwood can make a fine paddle at an acceptable weight if made thinner. Being thinner, it should also have better flex.

    Due to the time and effort taken to make a nice paddle I prefer to buy the finest wood even if I have to pay more. Almost all WRC I see in CT is flat sawn. To get vertical grain western red cedar I now buy a 4x4 chosen with straight grain, align it on a band saw so as to have vertical grain and split into two blanks.

    For double blade paddles, such as Aleutian paddles, laminating can make them stronger, reducing possibility of breakage. This is done by having vertical grain for the core lamination, especially by using sitka spruce. Side laminations can be flat sawn to reduce splitting and for easier working with hand tools. For such laminated paddles, the grain direction must be marked before they are glued. Arrangement needed is with the grain of all parts running in the same direction. Otherwise, the blank will be quite difficult to work, with frequent grain split out on one of the two adjacent surfaces that have grain running in opposite directions. The greater length of laminated double blades does a bit more flex than in single blades. Of course flex and weight are greatly influenced by the wood(s) chosen to make the paddle.

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014

Share This Page