Monday, 11 April 2011

Stuck on a Stick

Greenland paddle Number Five  is turning out to be the most frustrating paddle to make so far.

I enjoy the Greenland sticks enormously, and find them versatile and fun, and have really gotten a kick out of carving them. This latest one is proving to be a tricky proposition though.

Number One  was carved from cedar as a test, using the plans from Chuck Holst at It became my favourite, but I used teak oil as a finish and so the loom always became worn and furred with use. This one unfortunately cracked during a roll and so I can't trust it completely any more. There was a faint , almost imperceptible crack on one side of the point where the loom met the blade, but that was enough.

Number Two  was from an expensive piece of western red cedar.   Lovely colour, also finished in teak oil, beautifully buoyant and I think I carved the shape the better than Number One but I found the wood too soft: took injury to easily and eventually also cracked during a not very aggressive brace while paddling home from work. Disappointing, but I had the carving time down to about six hours from plank to finished blade.
Number Three is a storm paddle, with a two-fist-width loom. It isn't actually very much smaller than Number One. Teak oil finish again.

Number Four  was for my beloved Cathy. Shorter, with a much thinner blade width to suit her hand, this was the first stick I finished with epoxy. After two coats and sanding down the finish is lovely: the matt surface shows the grain and it's hard as glass.

Number Five  : I decided to make this longer and wider. The loom was the same length but blades extended and a wider paddle at the end. It was a problem child in the carving, when the jigsaw blade snapped in use and plunged a series of holes into the wood. Then came the epoxy: I tried to do two very thin coats but the second coat took over ten days to harden and I've been sanding this damn stick every few days trying to get it smooth. 

On numbers One, Four and Five I used white polyester flowcoat covered in epoxy to coat the blade tips, a homage to the bone tips of the original. 

Next time around I'll be much more careful with the epoxy. It's not as  straightforward to work as the polyseter resins I'm used to, but it has a fine satin sheen  when it works. Which is about half the time, for me.


  1. A nice array of sticks Ian. I've been thinking a lot about what I'd like in a surf/rock garden stick and have been debating a longer wider blade as well (which, interestingly, is exactly what the Aleut sticks are like). Have you ever thought about adding an Aleut stick to your collection? Cheers - FP

  2. Next time I leave a comment I'll be sure to read through the rest of the site first! The Novorca sticks look amazing - I'd be interested in hearing how they differ in performance.