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Make an Eskimo Style Kayak Paddle from 2x4 Scrap Wood in 1.5 hours

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Picture of Make an Eskimo Style Kayak Paddle from 2x4 Scrap Wood in 1.5 hours
This traditional pattern of paddle is a joy to use. The blades aren't feathered (rotated relative to each other) so they're easy for beginners to use.
I just made two of these in less than 3 hours according to the timestamps on the photos.
I wasn't rushing, that's just how long it took.

Read Nativewater's Eskimo paddle pages to learn theory and refinements of this type of paddle.

Paddle Dimensions:
The paddle is 7 to 8 feet overall.
The blades are 3.5" wide at the tips and 2.5" wide where they meet the handle.
The handle portion in the middle is 24-27" long, 1.2" wide, and 1.5" thick.
Size the handle portion to suit yourself.

Tools I used:
safety glasses
dust mask (very important. You'll be making storm clouds of dust)
table saw or bandsaw or jig saw or hand saw for cutting the outline
hand saw (Japanese pull saw)
electric planer
angle grinder
with Porter Cable 24 grit carbide disk ($7!)
with 50 and 80 grit resin bond sanding disks
sandpaper
C clamp
ruler and magic marker

  More paddle and oar making projects:
Here's the quickest way I know to make a paddle.
If it's oars you need, here's how to make oars from 2x4s.
Make a steering oar for a Marshall Islands Racing canoe.

 
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Step 1: Get Wood

Picture of Get Wood
I brought a paddle with me to help see where any knots would be if I used a certain chunk of lumber to make a paddle.
Dig around in the guts of a demolished house or barn til you find a softwood 2x4 about 8 feet long Look for straight grain and no knots where the middle handle portion.
Knots in the blade area are okay, imagine whether the knots will make the paddle too weak or not.
Usually it's easier to find clear wood on a bigger plank such as a 2x6, 2x12, etc. They came from a bigger tree and you've got more leeway to dodge knots.
New cheap 2x4s tend to be the core slice from a log and have lots of knots from the baby tree.
I found a good old 2x8 with knots in all the places that wouldn't be paddles. It's weathered and severely cracked, but that doesn't bother me. The blades are carved down past the bottom of the cracks. I'll fill any cracks in the handle portion.
seabananers4 years ago
you should change that to inuit because eskimo and indian are kind offensive to some people
I do not find being called and Eskimo offensive, That's who I am.
inuit is a different tribe
really?
No, Inuit and Eskimo are one and the same. . Inuitt means more or less "The People". Eskimo is an Algonquin word meaning "Eater of Flesh"
Nice !! Will it take really one and half hours !!
rawly old2 years ago
Tim,
I made my paddle even simpler, but it still works quite well.
I'm tall and broad shouldered so i wanted a 90" paddle. I
cut 2 28" blades from a 5" wide strip of scrap 3/8" plywood.
I had an old seasoned 75" doug fir 2x2 which i back cut 21", 3/8"
deep. on the side opposite the back cuts i tapered the ends to 3/4".
i drew a midline thru the blades and handle. With a couple squeezes
of construction glue, I snugged the blades into the back cuts and
aligned the mid lines and zapped in 3 1 1/4" drywall screws. With
a rasp I rounded off the 2x2 at my grip locations, slopped on some
spar varnish, and was good to go.

(Note: blades are 5" wide at the end tapering to 2 1/2" where they butt
to the back cut, corners rounded off. This paddle is lighter, and far
less work to use than my $125 Mohawk whitewater paddle.)
what about using a 2x6 for a wider paddle blade? and, is the preferred style of paddling any different from using a wide blade? (e.g. a more vertical paddle for deeper strokes)
DaveFlorida4 years ago
These are fun to build, and fantastic to paddle with, though I am not sure of the "beginner" comment.  I modify mine (have built several) by using a 2x6
stock of wood, Have used solid ash, but prefer a laminate of cedar and pine,
with a core 'backbone' of doug fir.  Make sure to use marine epoxy to glue the laminates, I buy all my materials at Home Depot.  Also, I finish mine with fine sanding, and an acrylic or poly coat. If you are addicted to rolling, these are fantastic to work with.
Thanks for the comments.
Dave, in Florida
kill-a-watt4 years ago
I've never seen the carbide disc before. Is it like really long lasting, coarse grit sanding disk, except with a metal backing?  Cool.

TimAnderson (author)  kill-a-watt4 years ago
It's like metal sandpaper, a steel disc with tungsten carbide chips affixed to it somehow. Probably solder. They sell these discs in 3-packs so they must wear out, but it probably takes a very long time. Watch out for the thin edge, it can cut you fast. They're made for a paint removing machine, probably they clog up before they wear out in that use.
one description says: "Use belt cleaner to clean or soak overnight and reuse". So for really big jobs you may need several, just like a pro might have several batteries for their cordless tools.

looks like it comes in 48, 36, and 24 grit.

http://www.drillspot.com/tag/tungsten-carbide-disc/ 
How is freehanding with the table saw preferable to the bandsaw?
TimAnderson (author)  hoosier456784 years ago
It isn't usually. But my tablesaw happens to have a very flat "planer" blade in it that cuts fast and I can shave things flat with it.The blade is thick and wastes a lot of wood, so I'd usually use something else unless I start with just enough wood that the kerfs don't cost me a useful piece of wood.
My bandsaws have fine tooth metal cutting blades in them at the moment, and I was too lazy to change them. They cut wood slowly and the damaged blades make the cut a little wiggly.
Very nice, i made one once using nothing but a block plane, three problems with that, it took forever, my wife came home to a living room full of shavings and freaked, and I planed the tip of my finger off.
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