Redwood for Canoe Paddles

Redwood, cedar, and spruce for a custom canoe paddle

Monday afternoon was near paradise. I spent a couple hours mucking around in the dark, dirty, dusty, back corners of an old lumberyard. I struck gold, or at least the wood lover’s version of it. Old, forgotten, clear, vertical grain redwood. I ended up speaking with the founder of the lumberyard since none of the wood was in the system any longer and no one knew how to price it. He was quite sure that no redwood had been purchased for at least the last thirty years. I also dug up an old six foot length of spruce that must be sixteen inches wide, as well as a huge piece of clear vertical grain western red cedar, and a bunch of smaller scrap pieces of redwood. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is true in this case. For the home builder and other more "normal" woodworkers, short knotty lengths of wood typically can’t be used. Everyone wants clear wood. Including me, when it comes to shaft strips. But those knotty pieces of wood, or those short pieces of wood work well in the paddlemaking world. Here in midwest flyover country, you just don’t find clear, vertical grain anything any more. It was far from its west coast origins to begin with and every year more and more is found and repurposed. This time it was my turn to happen upon some of this beautiful gorgeous old wood. Those scraps that had been in the dark corner for the past many years have now found a home in my shop. Hopefully that redwood will like being preserved for years to come as part of a paddle.

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One thought on “Redwood for Canoe Paddles

  1. Howdy Jeff, just wanted to tell you I bought your eBook and I’m busy making paddles. This is connected with refurbishing a 40 year old canoe and keeping the kayak/canoe arts alive in all of my 5 little grandsons. My first paddle was a Jr. sized cedar, carved out of a log found in the marsh. Now on the bench is a bent shaft, pretty close to the model in your book, and then a Jr. sized laminated paddle to round out the selection. Anyway, thanks for all the fun and the helpful book. You can see some of my progress on my blog, or Instagram if you’d like to see “your” ideas and expertise carried along. Kat

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