A tale of 2 paddles

At the start of the process of building Woofsnaval, two paddles were crafted: Battle Paddle and Kintsugi Blade. Sweat and soul added magic to the build process, and now it is time to share the tale of 2 paddles.

There I was, out in the woodshop, awaiting the arrival of some boat crafting supplies, when the need to craft a paddle overwhelmed me. Having just watched the movie Moana for the umpteenths time, there was something about the way the characters twirled their canoe paddles that spoke to me. There appeared to be a connection between the characters and their paddles that I assumed came from having a handcrafted paddles.

In the film, there were a few scenes of paddles being stabbed into the sand, and it struck me that when out paddling around, a paddle can also be a formidible weapon. That clinched it, I needed a handcrafted battle paddle so that I too could have a close connection with my paddle.

Battle Paddle

The goal was to make a paddle that could be used as a weapon as well as provide canoe propulsion. With tools in hand, and oak and pine from a local mill, it was time to get crafting.

Laminating Wood

The core and the blades were all epoxied together at the same time. It was not an ideal way to get started, but time demanded efficiency.

Paddle Blank

When the epoxy had dried and the clamps were removed, a surprisingly heavy paddle blank was twirled a bit before shaping.

Basic Blade Shape

On the band saw, the basic shape of the blade was cut, then the paddle was clamped to the trebuchet for fine shaping.

Finished Shape

As the canoe was first going 3D, the Battle Paddle was finished being sanded into the final shape.

So Blue

I have no idea why the pine used for the blades was so blue in color, but I absolutely love it.


The Battle Paddle was given a few coats of epoxy and then out on the water we went.

The core of the Battle Paddle is laminated oak, and the tip of the blade is a decent point. This allows the paddle to be used as a thrusting weapon, and not just as a bludgeoning weapon. Honestly, the Battle Paddle will probably only do 1d4 of damage, and the only thing that has been "battled" so far was some choppy waves at the lake.

Kintsugi Blade

While crafting the Battle Paddle, I posted pictures of the process on social media and lamented that I didn't know if I should waterproof the paddle with epoxy or use a natural method. My buddy suggested natural, but as the paddle was already laminated with epoxy, it seemed inappropriate to go natural with the waterproofing when epoxy was already used.

At this point, the concept of natural waterproofing was so thoroughly stuck in my mind, that I soon decided it would be best if I made another paddle, without epoxy, to waterproof naturally. This would require making the paddle from a single piece of wood.

Make A Design

on a slab of oak, a design for a single piece paddle was drawn and then cut out. I really should have flipped the piece of oak over to see what was on the backside of the slab. Had I known what was there, this design would have been adjusted to exclude a problem.

The Other Side

When the paddle shape was cut out and twirled around, I quickly discovered a self-inflicted flaw in the paddle.

What a bummer. Seeing the flaw in the piece I had just cut was quite depressing. The only way to turn my frown upside down, was to see the flaw as a feature. Thus, the idea of the kintsugi blade was born: instead of lamenting the flaw, I would celebrate the flaw.

Natural Waterproofing

Once the paddle was finished being shaped and sanded; the entire paddle was slathered with tallow and left to cook in the sun for a few days.

Celebrate The Repair

The flaw in the paddle was not repaired with gold, but with rawhide. The weak spot was wrapped tightly with wet rawhide, which dried and shrank to (hopefully) add strength to the flaw.


After the repair rawhide had dried, it was time to hit the water.

As I paddle with Kintsugi Blade, I am constantly made aware of the flaw, and the awareness certainly changes my paddling behavior.

When the canoe was tested on the lake, both paddles joined me. For mellow gentle cruising, the Kintsugi Blade does a wonderful job. The paddle is light, narrow, and easy to spin about. The Battle Paddle on the other hand, is heavy and wide. When I'm at a stop and really need to start moving, the Battle Paddle is the go to paddle.

Compared to commercially available paddles, both of my paddles are heavier and longer and result in much more of a workout when paddling fo a few hours. Fortunately, I need the exercise.

Jezra :)