Eric’s F1 build in Finistère

Starting with the Greenland paddles.

I started with the paddles as it felt less intimidating than starting with the kayak. I chose a beam of red cedar, looking for the ‘ideal’ grain orientation described in the CFK paddle plans. The beam was thick enough to cut out three paddles, below is a picture of the three thirds of the beam at different stages of paddle building.

The rough shape was cut out with a metabo bas318 band saw and a 16mm blade. I did the rest of the shaping with a cheap low angle block plane, which I spend a decent amount of time flattening and sharpening. I looked at commercial honing guides, but decided to go for three pieces of legos and two rubber bands …

In addition to Brian’s excellent advice on carving, I found that tracing the middle of the paddle’s width on all four sides helped me quite a bit to keep the symmetry while carving (I don’t have an electrical plane).

I watched the instructional videos, practiced on a stick of pine first and made several mistakes, watched the entire series again, tried again and did okay, watched select bits of the video again to see how far the carving was extending, for example, and felt comfortable on the third attempt.

Next, I tried to save some red cedar cuts from these first trials by making glue-lam paddles, following Brian’s instructions for laminating deck beams. Here is the result for a storm paddle:

Making my own dowels from spare white oak

Instead of buying dowels, I wanted to make use of leftover white oaks from my rib prep’. I tried different methods, and found that the fastest was to drill a hole through a piece of wall framing track in galvanized steel. I have a piece left-over from construction.

Next, I cut my left-over rib spares close to the dimension of the dowel using my band saw (grain orientation as for ribs), and round the edges with a block plane. I round the end with a pencil sharpener, and fit the resulting stick in the chuck of my drill. I insert the wood in the hole made in the framing track and start drilling. I finish the dowel with sand paper, checking the diameter with a caliber. It’s simple and fast. The advantage is that your dowel matches exactly the drill bit used to make it (if you don’t over sand it).

The last picture corresponds to the 6mm dowels used to peg the gunwales and the deck beams.


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I'm a marine ecologist and sea kayak enthusiast

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