Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles




Introduction: Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles

Bent Shaft canoe paddles allow for a more efficient paddle stroke. Double bent shafts place less pressure on the shoulder and upper body.

Bent shaft paddles need to be strong, particularly where the shaft joins the blade. This design includes a ridge that runs from the shaft into the blade, adding strength to the blade while keeping it light. The light weight and ergonomic design are particularly important for long canoe trips.

Step 1: Materials

We used Sitka Spruce, quarter sawn for the shaft and most of the blade because it has the best weight to strength ration. We used small pieces of exotic hardwood on the handles. We also added sections of mahogany in the blade to add colour and feature. We jointed the wood using Titebond III waterproof glue.

Step 2: Selecting the Wood

We chose close grain 2"x4"x6' Sitka Spruce because Sitka spruce is both strong and light.

Step 3: Cutting and Preparing the Wood for the Shaft and Blade

The shaft sections are cut at 1 1/4" by 1/4" thick by 66"long. Each piece is cut quarter sawn and laid with alternating grain patterns.

The blade sections are cut in different dimensions. The closer the the shaft, the thicker the blade section. The outer part of the blase and typically 3/8" thick by 3/4" wide and 14" long. The section next to the shaft should be about 1 1/8" thick by 3/4 \" wide and 15" long. Middle sections can be made from mahogany to add colour to the paddle blade.

Step 4: Glue Up of Shaft Using Templates and Gluing Blade Sections

Coat each shaft laminate with glue, align then clamp between the forming templates. You can also glue together the pieces for the blade one side at a time and clamp to ensure the base is flat. Let the glue dry overnight.

Step 5: Milling the Shaft and Blade for Glue Up

Using a router table with a 1/2" roundover bit, shape the shaft of your paddle avoiding the sections where handle and blade will be glued onto the shaft. To assemble the different parts of the blade, start by defining where to glue both sides on the shaft. Cut the excess of wood on it and glue both sides using waterproof wood glue and clamps to hold everything together. Make sure the bottom part is evenly flat. Let dry overnight.

Step 6: Cutting the Shaft to Length and Cutting Mortise for the Handle

Using the tablesaw and tenon jig, cut an insert in the center of the shaft's end that will receive the handle. This will allow you to place a piece of hardwood perpendicular to the shaft and parallel with the blade. Glue it and filler blocks in place.

Step 7: Rough Shaping the Blade and Lower Shaft.

When the glue both sides of the blade are set, cut the central sections to taper toward the tip of the blade. This will save wood removal later. Use the belt sander to smooth both top and bottom of the blade. Now shape the shaft by tracing the profile of the blade on the shaft. Cut away extra wood so that the blade will fit smoothly against the shaft.

Step 8: Assembling the Handle

Moving on to the handle, you may want to chose a dark hardwood wood to personalize your handle. With the chosen piece, you will create two blocks with an insert that will come and sit on top of the handle piece. Glue everything together and let dry overnight.

Step 9: Shaping the Blade

Using a piece of Masonite, trace the shape of one side of the blade shape you want. Cut and shape this template. This will now be used to shape both sides of the blade so that it is symmetrical. Now begins the task of shaping the blade to that the shaft carries into the blade as a ridge that tapers as it gets closer to the tip. This is done using a zircon sanding disk in an angle grinder. Be careful, this is a very aggressive tool. Leave the tip of the blade at least 3/8 " thick for the next step. Once the general shape has been formed, used sanders to refine the blade shape.

Step 10: Finish Sanding and Shaping

Giving the shaft of your paddle the last touches, use a spokeshave to marry the shape of the shaft into the handle and the blade. Smooth it with a palm sander.

Step 11: Adding a Spline on the Blade End

To give more strength to your blade, you will need to place a fiberglass and epoxy insert into the tip of the blade. To do so, you must cut an insert on the edge. Then, using fiberglass strands from roving, fill the insert with glass and epoxy strands. Make sure to wear protective gloves and act fast as you work with chemical products that react rapidly. Set aside until it is hardened.

Step 12: Finishing Your Paddle

The last step consist in finishing your paddle after you smooth it with hand sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. Use and exterior grade polyurethane such as Winwax. You can put up to 4 coats, waiting for each one to dry before applying the next.

Step 13: The Real Last Step: Using the Paddle

Now for the last step, using the paddle. If you have opted for the double bent shaft, you will note that your upper hand remains closer to your body when paddling reducing stress ion your shoulder. Enjoy

Outside Contest 2016

Third Prize in the
Outside Contest 2016

Makerspace Contest

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Make It Bridge

      Make It Bridge
    • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

      Game Design: Student Design Challenge
    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest



    6 years ago

    I've never seen a form like that, but makes perfect sense! thanks for that insight


    6 years ago

    Hi there such a lovely project to get involved with. an instruct able worth doing. really nice woodwork craft. you would have to be proud to make it. johno


    6 years ago

    What is the curve of the shaft? Do you have a table of offsets so others can reproduce it?