Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Formby Finger..building a Greenland paddle

A few days ago with some time to spare I decided to build a Greenland style kayak paddle.
The main reason being that the low angle paddling style might alleviate some of my back and shoulder problems.
I bought the Western Red Cedar from the same supplier as usual, a bit shocked at how much timber has gone up in price, but 2 x 2.44m lengths of 140 x 25mm would be enough to build 2 paddles.

As the working thickness I needed was 40mm I had to cut the boards into strips and used West System Epoxy to join them together to produce a 100 x 40mm blank.

I used Chuck Holst's GP design, which is a very clear and concise instruction manual to building a paddle and I found it easy to follow after converting to metric. I won't go into discussion of paddle length, technique etc.. it's all in Chuck's article.

After the first cuts to remove surplus timber to form the blades, some careful marking for the loom and blade tips. The paddle is 12mm thick at the tips.

All cut out on a bandsaw, then a couple of hours whittling in the garden...

A remarkable amount of wood shavings resulted from extensive work with a block plane and a few sharp knives, great for lighting the bbq later on..

Blade tips after sanding.

Main tools used [no bandsaw in garden]
And finally a lovely smooth paddle.

After couple of coats of Danish Oil to seal it I joined some friends in Wales for a trip on the Menai Strait to try it out. Very different from a Euro paddle; at first the low angle style of paddling felt very strange, but after 10 mins it started to feel quite natural, and I didn't notice the lack of feather compared to my usual Lendal carbon fibre paddle. It has a 'soft' feel and after going into the wind and tide for 6 miles I felt like I could have kept going all day, and my friends gave it a favourable review too.
Only minus point is that the high front of the Rockpool Alaw's cockpit doesn't allow a true Greenland paddling style.

Many thanks to my friend Ray McCarthy, builder of the 'Wirral Wand' for his advice and support. I hope the 'Formby Finger' meets his expectations.

1 comment:

Stuart said...

Very nice! I was thinking of getting the Anglesey Stick a while back and then realised they do a DIY kit for £68. Still haven't done anything about it but reading that article by Chuck Holst might spure me on to do my own.