I recently bought a sit in kayak to explore the clear Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania(Highly Recommended!). I had a $200 budget, which was pretty tight to get into kayaking. I was able to secure a 10’ kayak from Dick’s Sporting Goods for $190. The problem is these days most kayaks don’t come with a paddle. My options at the surrounding sporting goods stores ranged from $50-250! Walmart didn’t carry paddles, unless you count a tiny emergency paddle. So after searching in vain for a cheap paddle I decided to build one.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
(2) 14.5-18 Gallon Storage Container Lids: $4.50 - Free (W)
(7') 1/8" Nylon Rope $0.11 per foot = $0.77 total (H)
Duct Tape: $2.49 (H)
(1) 3/4” OD, 10’ long Galvanized Conduit: $6.99 (H)
Total Cost = $10.25 – 14.75
*From Hardware Store = H, Walmart =W
Flat Head Screwdriver
Medium Duty Scissors
The Storage Container Lids were actually given to me for free. I had the intention of buying just the lids without the containers ($4.50), but the clerk didn’t know how to ring it up. She told me when people buy the containers they forget to grab the lids all the time. She gave me a wink and had some free lids!
Step 2: Determine Overall Paddle Length
A good starting point to estimate your needed paddle length is to take your height and add 2’
Another way would be to measure the distance between your hands with your elbows bent at 90 deg and add 4’
I stand at 5’ 7” tall so calculating out both methods gives:
5’ 7” + 2 = 7’ 7”
3’ 5” + 4 = 7’ 5”
So I chose the average of the two: 7’ 6”
You can check out these resources for more advice on paddle length:
Step 3: Cut the Shaft
Chosen Paddle length – unsupported blade length(x2) = Shaft length
For me: 7’ 6” - 2”(x2) = 7’ 2”
The hardware store I bought the conduit from was able to cut the conduit down to length for me, but a pipe cutter or hack saw will do the job if you don’t have that option. They also had 6-8’ lengths of aluminum tubing which would have been lighter and a better choice for water conditions, but they ran at about $12-14 each and would put me over budget.
Step 4: Cut Out the Blades
Step 5: Tie-down Holes
I used a flat-head screwdriver to punch sets of holes 3/4” apart in 2” intervals down the center of the blade starting ½” from the top. You can also use the shaft as a guild in determining your hole position. Wall-out the holes to make them big enough to thread rope through them. The middle two sets will need to be large enough to allow two threads of rope.
Step 6: Lashings
1. Place the shaft on the same blade face as the loose rope ends and position about 2’ from the bottom of the blade.
2. Cross the right hand rope end over the shaft to the next hole up on the left hand side. Thread this end through the hole and across the back of the blade to the second hole of the same set and through to the front of the blade.
3. Repeat the last step for the next two sets of holes. This should leave you with the longer rope end at the bottom most hole on the left side and a shorter rope end on the top most hole on the right side.
4. Taking the longer rope end cross over the shaft to the right hand hole on the above set and thread the end through to the back across to the other hole on the same set and back through to the front. This means that there will be two lashes on the back side of this set of holes.
5. Repeat the last step for the next set of holes.
6. This should leave you with two nearly even length rope ends on opposite sides of the shaft one set above the other. Cross both ends over the shaft, tie together, and cut the excess. Repeat this process for the other blade.
Step 7: Duct Tape and Done!
I also taped the shaft and blade across the front to prevent the blade from spinning around the shaft or sliding off the end.
Some final additions can be tennis raquet grip tape(rubber or electrical tape would work too) for a more comfortable grip. Drip rings to keep water from dripping down onto your hands and lap(I’m thinking some thing like a hand ball cut in half mounted a few inches from your grip). There’s a couple other Instructables out there for mounting the paddle to the kayak too.
Make sure you know and follow all your local boating rules and wear a life jacket were required(always wearing one is a good practice!)
In PA effective: Nov. 1, 2012. Anyone in a canoe or kayak, or on a boat less than 16 feet, will be required to wear a life jacket from Nov. 1 through April 30, which is the period most noted for cold-water temperatures.