How to Make a Canoe Paddle

Fond of boating, smooth flowing water and boats, then you must try to make a canoe paddle of your own. Your handmade canoe will help you design it as you want and it will be customized as per your needs. For this, you must know how to make a canoe paddle. If you are good at carpentry, you can design it elegantly and gift it to someone.

A small taper boat, which moves on manual power like paddling, is known as canoe. It is tapered at a both the ends and can be covered from the top just like a kayak. It moves by paddling, and usually it has paddles for two people. Two people at a time can paddle the canoe to sail in the waters. You can also make a canoe paddle with your kids. It will help them learn a new thing, and will let you spend some quality time with your family.

To design your own canoe paddle you must know how to make a canoe paddle and what materials and equipment you would need to make a canoe paddle. If you do not know how to make a canoe paddle, this will help you to understand the procedure and make a canoe for yourself and your dear ones.

Material required for making a canoe paddle:

  • Wood
  • Plywood
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Nuts and Screws
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Rope
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Closet rod
  • Paddles
  • Sander
  • Varnish
  • Gloves
  • Glares

You can use different types of wood to make your canoe paddle. Ash, Cedar, Maple, Walnut, Cherry, are the most widely used wood for making canoe paddle. Use hardwood to make strong heavy durable canoe paddles. You can either make the paddle out of a big single piece of wood or join different sections together, to make a canoe paddle.

How to make a canoe paddle?

While making a canoe paddle you must take care that the wood you use is of good quality. Avoid using softwood, as it will get ruined easily on exposure to water. Another important thing is that your canoe paddle should have a good grip. It should have a nice grip.


  • Wear gloves in your hands and glares on your eyes so that you do not get hurt while cutting the wood.
  • Select a wood that is hard and matches your canoe. Avoid softwood because it will wear faster in water. Hardwood will however last long. Hardwood does not need much maintenance.
  • Keep all the woods in your work area. You can ask someone to place it there for you if you are unable to lift it.
  • Choose a piece of wood, which is at least 5 feet long and 6 inches in width. The thickness of the wood should be around 1 ¼  inch.
  • A 5 feet length for a canoe paddle is ideal because it is neither too short nor too long. The user will find it comfortable to hold it and paddle the canoe.
  • A small canoe will make the user bend while he/she paddles the canoe and will lead to severe backache.
  • Use dried wood to avoid cracks and splinters in the wood.
  • You cannot directly start cutting the wood. You need to draw a shape of paddle on the piece of wood you have. For this, you can either use an old paddle or a dummy plastic paddle to mark the shape on the wood.
  • This will give you the basic shape of the paddle. Next step is customizing the paddle.
  • You can customize the upper end of the paddle, which remains out of the water. If you are good at carpentry, you can carve it beautifully and give it a customized shape.
  • Once you have the design ready, crosscheck the shape again and then cut the wood with a saw.
  • If you have designed it in a way that you need to join the different parts of the wood, then join it with the help of nails and hammer.
  • Smoothen the edges of the paddle with the help of saw or equipments available for smoothening the edges of wooden objects.
  • Do a final check of the paddle before you give it a finishing touch. Once it is done, you need to polish it.
  • Using a brush apply varnish on the paddle.
  • Using a sander, you need to sand the paddle alternatively for dry and wet sanding.
  • Varnish makes your paddle shine and also protects it from termites. You get different shades of varnish. You can use the one that matches the shade of your boat or kayak.
  • If you wish, you can skip the handle of the paddle while garnishing. Some people prefer to do so because it gives a better grip to the handle of the paddle.

Besides using wood for making a paddle, you can also make a paddle out of plywood. However, you need plywood, which is thick. Using very thin plywood will not make a good paddle.

Related Content:

  1. How to Paddle a Canoe
  2. How to Build a Canoe
  3. How to Choose a Kayak Paddle
  4. How to Stand up Paddle
  5. How to Use a Paddle Ball

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