A company by the name of DIY Surf Gear has come on the scene with a product called DIY Surf Gear: Surf Paddle Plans which includes a series of illustrated instructions and knowledge about how to build a stand up surf paddle at home. Being a person that has always wanted a wooden paddle to take out from time to time, I went to it and built a paddle using one of three paddle building methods provided in the package: The Pole Plank Method, Stack Laminate Method, and the Traditional Method.
It took me an afternoon to shape and assemble the paddle. I decided to put a layer of fiberglass over the whole thing, which isn't necessary, but I thought I'd just give it a try, which took another afternoon. Then, after it dried, I sanded it smooth and took it out. I have to admit, in a day when everything is store-bought and everything can be replaced by swiping a credit card, it was a fulfulling experience to build a paddle with my own hands, fine tune it, and take it out on the water. In this article, I'll share my experience building my first paddle.
To set the stage; first off, I'm not a woodworker. I don't have a woodshop. I don't even have a yard. I live in a condo on the edge of the town and this project was done on the balcony. The wind would blow the sawdust off the ledge from time to time. My guess is that the neighbors enjoyed the smell of fresh cut pine wafthing into their homes. I think it was pine. I have no idea. The wood I used for the blade was the same wood my wife and I have used in the past for making bookcase shelves. For the shaft and handle, I got a wood pole from the hardware store, the same kind I used a few months ago to hang our curtains. What kind of wood is it you ask? I call it curtain-rod-wood.
The design I chose to use is simple, and it worked. I followed the DIY Surf Gear plans called the Pole Plank Method. To make a paddle, you need a pole and a plank of wood... go figure. My original goal was just to make a functional paddle but as I got going, it turned into an experience. As I cut and shaved wood, it was as if I was pulled into this vacuum where time would stop and wait while I finished my project.
My favorite part was shaping the blade. I was staring down at this piece of wood, and with a bit grin, traced a template on the plank, cut it out and started shaving away with a little hand planer. Chipped wood flipped here and there and the blade took shape. With the basic shape done, I decided to shave out a slight dihedral on the power side of the blade.
When I attached the blade, it was about a 12 degree angle, though I couldn't be bothered to get out a protracter or anything. I eyeballed it best I could and it came out just right.
All in all, it was a great experience and I hope to make another though I'm not sure if I'll fiberglass the next one. That paddle is indestructible. I even wrapped some fin rope where the blade and shaft attach, just for good measure. It added some weight and was a bit messy but it was worth it. Luckily I laid out the newpaper and cardboard before I got going with the epoxy resin. I definitely have a newfound respect for glassers both of surfboards and paddles. When everything was dried, the final sanding started. It was exciting to see the grain come out as I went to finer and finer grit sandpaper.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Do I have a newfound respect for the master craftsmen? You better believe it. Paddle making is one of those things you can learn in an afternoon and take a lifetime to perfect. If you've got some extra wood lying around, try building a paddle. What did the materials cost? Well, I paid about $10 for the wood and $5 for a hand planer that I didn't have. $2 for some wooden dowels, and that's it. Next, I think I'll build one for the kids. If you have any questions for me, go ahead and post them in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
If you're creative, you might be able to think up a paddle design on your own. However, if you'd rather just follow the instructions for proven methods, I'd recommend the DIY Surf Gear: Surf Paddle Plans. They're clear and easy to follow. l look forward to building my next one.
For more information visit http://surfpaddles.diysurfgear.com .