For this paddle, I wanted to try and replicate Tappan Adney's Malecite paddle sketches which appear at the back of John McPhee's famous canoeing book, Survival of the Bark Canoe. Adney's scribbled notes mention the paddles were carved and decorated by a Doctor Peter Polchies and were 6ft long with a 6inch blade. I intend all my paddles to be users so the dimensions were reduced to fit my preferred length of 58" with a narrowed blade width to accomodate the ash board.
Adney's sketches of Peter Polchies' carved paddles
After marking out the shape on the rough lumber, I made a few stop cuts with the saw and commenced hacking away. Now that we have a backyard instead of a condo balcony there's much more space and enjoyment to be had.
Paddle waiting to emerge
Sawing stop cut
Still not totally competent to chop right along a fine pencil line, so I stopped with the edges of the paddle looking a little ragged. They can easily be cleaned up later. A little trick I learned is to leave a few inches on the top and the bottom of the blank until the very last minute. Makes it much easier to handle the blank when wielding the axe.
Chopped out paddle blank
After thinning out the blade face with more axe work, I set up my portable shaving horse made way back in '08 that's still serving me well. Quick work with the spokeshave and the blade & grip were coming along nicely. Ended up with a pretty nice piece of ash - the grain isn't too difficult to work with and the pattern on one side of the blade is quite appealing. The whole paddle was thinned out quite a bit with the shaft thickness reduced down to 1" to make the whole thing light & flexible.
Set up on the horse
Grain pattern on the blade
I've purposely left the grip area a bit bulky to be true to the sketch and because of the fact that bulkier grips suit my palm just fine
Decoration post to follow...
December 12, 2011 Update: Decoration is complete...see part 2 here