Homemade Paddle, Or, How to Make an Impression




About: I'm an amateur woodworker, welder, and fabricator who loves new tools and old projects. At my day job I am a drafter.

So here it is, the night before Valentine's Day, and I've realized I have yet to actually buy my wife anything. Thank goodness for a well-stocked workshop. Plus, she's used to me spending all evening in the garage, so she probably won't notice if I sneak away to cobble something together. Fair warning, this gift is a bit of a risk. It will either be literally a hit or you will be sleeping on the curb. Know your audience.

By all accounts (or at least both that I've seen), 50 Shades of Grey is a terrible film. I'm no movie critic (haven't even seen the trailer, so I have no basis for judgment) but I do know my wife read enough of the book to decide she hated it and grumble about what she called "terrible writing and a blatant and dangerous misunderstanding of an entire culture." So save the price of two movie tickets and make your significant other this gift instead. Make it personal by getting creative with the word or design on the paddle. The important part is putting the words on the paddle backwards so the imprint on skin will be legible.


  • One 2' x 2' square of 1/8" plywood (1/4" works as well)
  • One sheet of 1/8" foam (visit your local craft or hobby store)
  • Glue
  • Stencil letters


  • Drill Press
  • Coping Saw
  • Utility blade or x-acto knife
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Measure and Cut Your Materials

Decide how big you want your paddle to be, including the handle. I made mine 16" x 4" because I like my crafts ridiculous. Then decide how long you want your handle and draw a line. I made the handle 5" long to fit comfortably in my hand. Use a saw to cut three blocks the full length of your paddle + handle out of the plywood and one block the length of only the handle (If you are using 1/4" plywood you may want to only cut two full-length and one handle-length block).

Step 2: Drill Holes in the Back Panel

Use a drill press to drill holes in one of the full length pieces. This will be the back panel of the paddle. Be sure to leave about a quarter inch between the holes nearest the edge and the edge of the board, including the line that shows the beginning of handle. You can make the holes any size you would like; I just picked up a drill bit that seemed right and went to town.

I forgot to take a picture of the board pre-paint, but you get the idea.

Step 3: Paint Your Panels

You will need to paint one side on each of your three full-length panels at this stage. You can choose whatever colors you want, but black and red seem pretty fitting.

Paint one side of the back panel (the holey one), and one side of another block black.

On the third block, paint the paddle blade red. Don't worry about painting the handle area on any of these panels; you'll paint the handle after you cut it out. Just paint down to the line where the handle will start.

*If you paint on the side you drew the line for your handle on, you will want to draw it again on the other side and on both sides of each board for reference.

Step 4: Cut Out Your Foam

While you wait for the paint to dry, cut your foam to size. Mine is 11" x 4" to cover the paddle blade. At this point, you can also cut out the shapes and/or words you want on your paddle. I used cookie cutter letters to make the initial impression because I had them handy. You could also use stencils or freehand the design if you are artistically inclined. I then used a utility blade to cut through the foam. In retrospect, an X-Acto knife would have worked better.

If you prefer one side of the foam board to the other as the outside, you will want to decide that now. If you want the letters to be legible when slapped on skin, you'll need to have the mirror image on the paddle itself. My secret? Cut them right-side out on the back of the foam. Poof! Mirror image on the front.

I kept this pg-rated for the sake of the internet. You can write whatever you want. Make it fun!

Step 5: Glue the Wood Pieces Together

Time to layer your wood! Black side of the holey piece should face out. Put the red board behind it so you can see the red through the holes. Then put the other black piece facing the other way so you will see the black through the cutout letters in the foam. Put the last short piece of wood on the bottom of the front to add one more layer to the handle to match the thickness of the foam.

Glue the pieces together using wood glue and allow to dry.

Step 6: Cut Out, Sand and Paint the Handle

Draw the shape of your handle on the front board. Any shape will do, just make it comfortable for you.

Cut out your handle through all four layers of plywood using a coping saw.

Sand your handle. No one likes splinters.

Paint the handle and sides to match the back panel. If you are using spray paint, you may want to put some tape over the holes to avoid covering the red underneath..

Step 7: Glue on the Foam, Wrap It Up, Win, Etc.

Once the paint is dry, glue your foam on to the front using the same glue. Be sure the letters are backwards. I left the excess foam on until the glue was dry so I could cut it flush with the rest of the paddle. Admire your handiwork. Giggle. Allow to dry.

And you're done! Once the paint dries you're ready to put a bow on it and give it to your special someone (note here, I hope you didn't make it this far only to realize your Valentine is not a fan of this particular brand of toy. If so, maybe use it as a wedding gift for someone you don't know or know way too well).

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Aftet reading the comments it seem people think this is used on children. Or cricket ahahaha! Great work. You always stensil your name on it? Or the word owned. I love it!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Have you tried adding a grip? Drilling a hole right above the handle, then tying shoelace, paracord, or some sort of soft and thin rope through it and down the handle. Better grip, better chance of not having splinters, and potentially more stylish.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Good call, if it had not been a last minute gift it probably would have come out with a handle like that, Good news though 5 months and no splinters i think the paint and glue kept them down.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I laughed out loud as soon as I read this - you're a brave man! You must tell us how it was received!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Have no fear my Valentines day was saved. It was a huge hit and she finally stopped laughing after I gave it to her.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! My old man used to tell us "The Lord split your butt vertically for a reason. If it was split horizontally, the board might get stuck."

    Them kids betta watch out, or you gonna open a can of whoop (you know what I mean) :) It's hilarious