Carving the Greenland paddle, following Chuck Holst’s excellent instructions (http://www.qajaqusa.org/QK/makegreen2.pdf).
For my paddle I found a piece of clear 4X4 western redcedar that I had the lumberyard rip into 2 quartersawn 2X4s (technically it’s a wee bit thicker than a true 2X4).
The first attempt at tapering the ends was made with a hand saw (specifically a Japanese style ryoba saw). It worked out fairly well except that I elected to use the less common “measure once, cut twice” method (I inadvertently drew one of the tapers to the center of the loom instead of the end), and it took about 2 hours of sawing to cut through 37” of western redcedar.
Enough with the hand tools. We’re moving to the table saw. I figured I couldn’t possibly be the first person wanting to cut a long taper on a table saw, so after a bit of Googling and I found several examples. Here’s a fancier version of what I used: http://woodworkingtips.com/etips/etip020607wb.html. Not surprisingly, the first cut was wildly out of place so the first piece of lumber was repurposed as a storm paddle. The second piece came out perfectly. Unfortunately I’ve only got a 10” saw, so I was only able to cut through about 70-80% of the 2X4, but finishing the cut by hand was much faster.
The next step was to cut the outline (note for next time: mark the centerline on both faces, before cutting the outline). Now given how easy it is to accidentally split, dent, scratch, etc. this wood, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect an electric jigsaw to whip through this step effortlessly. Ha! 3 blades, several burned fingers and about 30 minutes later I had a very rough outline complete. Only after finishing when I was attempting to mark the centerline on the bottom face (see previous note) did I discover that the outline on the bottom only bore a passing resemblance to the rather decent job I did following the pencil markings on the top. A bandsaw would make this step so much easier.
Bevel lines were marked, and waste was removed with a combination of a chisel and a plane. I suspect a skilled woodworker could probably manage to do about 90% of the waste removal on a bandsaw. Fortunately, lack of a bandsaw prevented me from unwisely attempting it. Once you’ve got the bevels cut on one face of one blade, you can really see what the final result is going to look like. You can also see that you really didn’t do a very good job of finding the center and you’ve got a slightly unsymmetrical paddle. Also due to the wandering jigsaw blade, the shoulders aren’t nearly as pronounced as illustrated, nor are they symmetrical.
Mr. Holst recommends using your carving tools to continue removing corners until you’ve finally released the shape within. I used a random orbit sander with 60 grit paper. Took about 5 minutes per blade per side, so a total of about 20 minutes. I did find it was best to hold the sander steady in one hand and roll the paddle under the sander with the other. If you try rocking the sander, especially on the thin blade edges, you’re going to be contending with some significant precession forces and you’ll just end up digging the edge of the sanding disc into the paddle. It takes a few seconds to get the hang of rolling the paddle under the disk, but it works really well. A bench mounted disc or belt sander would probably work really well also. I wouldn’t recommend a drum sander.
I then followed up with hand sanding the shoulders (the ROS can’t get in there), and then the entire surface with 150 grit. Now I just need to wet it to raise the grain a bit and do a final sanding with 220 and 320 grit.
Even with all my screw ups and total lack of experience carving anything, the final result looks really good.