Yikes, the paddle is too heavy

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sluggo
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Yikes, the paddle is too heavy

Post by sluggo » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:28 am

I almost finished my paddle today. I still have to apply epoxy and/or varnish, and probably fine tune the grip a bit. However, after much work with a spokeshave, rasp and sandpaper I was disappointed that the weight of the paddle was still kind of high. I got to weigh it tonight and it's coming in at 890g (no epoxy or varnish yet). I could skim off a bit of wood here and there but it wouldn't change much. I just looked up some wood densities and it looks as though my choice of using ash for the shaft wasn't a good one. I didn't realize just how dense it is compared to walnut, cherry and others. I did a quick calculation on the percentage of the paddle that is ash and if I had used cherry (which is a nicer wood imo), the paddle would weigh 790g.

Oh well, at least it looks ok, I imagine that it will work fine, and I'm proud of it. Photos to come after I get the finish on it.

cheers

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pawistik
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Post by pawistik » Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:25 pm

Don't underestimate the effect of removing a small amount of material.

What is the diameter of the shaft and could you handle the feel of something thinner? Using some math, if you reduce the diameter from say 4 cm to 3 cm (for example) then the cross section area is reduced from 50.24 cm2 to 28.26 cm2, or to 56.25% of the original area and therefore nearly a 44% reduction in weight in the shaft! Similarly, one or two mm over the surface of the blade will shave weight and each little bit adds up.

Ash is strong & flexible, taking shock well (think hockey stick and a slapshot). Do you really need as much material in your shaft to have a strong paddle? Also, individual pieces of wood vary within a species depending on the tree, it's growing conditions, and where in the tree your piece came from, so the wood density tables can only give an average or typical density. If you happen to have a denser than average piece, then it's all the more important to get rid of every last extra bit of material.

You mention the shaft being ash, what is the blade?

I made a paddle laminated from maple and ash. Both are heavy, but also very strong. My paddle is long, but I went thin and in the end I have been very satisfied with the weight, durability and flex of the paddle. It has a very fine edge which is great for those slicing underwater strokes. And, it has held up to several years of use with little wear.

Cheers,
Bryan

sedges
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laminate shaft

Post by sedges » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:14 am

890 grams is not that bad. When I make a stout paddle for traveling, especially rivers where it will be used occasionally to push off the bottom they turn out about the same. You can lighten the next one up by laminating the shaft. I use 1/4 inch ash plates with a much ligther wood in between. cedar would be lightest, but I like a good grained piece of spruce for strength.

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sluggo
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Location: Vancouver BC

Post by sluggo » Sat Aug 29, 2009 3:16 pm

I think I'll try out the paddle for a while, and if I want to go lighter I can always hit it hard with the sander and planes and get it lighter. My shaft is 1"x1.18", and the blade can be a bit thinner especially near the throat.

cheers

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Patricks Dad
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Re: Yikes, the paddle is too heavy

Post by Patricks Dad » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:53 pm

The last paddle I finished weighed in at 435 grams. It is built from WRC with a layer of 4 oz glass on one side of the blade. The shaft is hollow built using the bird mouth method.
Randy Pfeifer
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Randy.Pfeifer1@gmail.com

phiphiferry
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Re: Yikes, the paddle is too heavy

Post by phiphiferry » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:34 am

Building your own canoe is a very rewarding experience that few undertake. the last one which I have built up was 738 grams, this epoxy/wood paddle features a 10 degree bent shaft, just like the spiffy store-bought ones.

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