I wanted to try a different style than the typical "beginner's paddle" so elected to try a Penobscot style listed in Graham Warren's Canoe Paddles book. Basically an elongated Beavertail with a sloping, flattened grip. Sawing out the blank by hand took a while as usual, but I found poplar to be a pretty forgiving wood that allowed for the sweeping curves of the blade when cut with a fine toothed crosscut saw. Below are some pics of the job (skipping all the intermediate steps I've outlined in other posts)
The sawn out blank
Completed paddle before artwork
Varnishing after burning a heron on the blade and cat-tail image on the grip
Taking it out for a spin on a sunny day...would you believe I actually spotted a Heron while using it...perfect coincidence!
Poplar is one of the softer hardwoods so the blade and shaft are prone to scuffing and denting if used carelessly, but you can't beat it for lightness. I wouldn't really use it again for paddles I intend to use for tripping but for a starter project and pyrography artwork it is a great wood to use.