A Solid Citizen kit, the stock kit, looks great as is. To my eye, cedar and purpleheart are a great looking combination, along with poplar, white pine or basswood. However, there are many different wood types available to the paddle maker. Build to order paddles offer one way to get a custom look. Ordering a kit with wood that you select is another option. For example, a maker could request a kit with basswood handles, a walnut piece for the middle of the shaft, along with walnut inner blade pieces and outer blade edge trim. A piece of redwood for the top shaft piece, or paddle blades with bookmatched knots from old barnboard could also be part of a kit. A custom kit or swapping out pieces changes the price, but the tradeoff is a ‘one of a kind’ paddle, made with your own hands. The idea remains that wavetrainSUP does the ripping and the ‘right sizing’, for lack of a better phrase, such that you need only hand power and hand tools to make your paddle AND are not left with a big chunk of very expensive wood with a few quarter inch slices off one side.
Wood choices for the shaft include:
- cedar. Most of the time there are two distinct options for cedar - a light buff color and a rich dark brown;
- redwood. This is reclaimed and shows a variety of color and texture;
- walnut. both Peruvian and American, gorgeous wood in a rnage of brown light to dark;
- pine. Tends to be whitish, lots of variation and inclusions of color, grain, knot, etc. Clear shaft pieces are available;
- basswood. creamy, smooth, as clear and consistent as you will find in wood when it comes to color and grain pattern;
- poplar. light colored like basswood, however it has a tendency to show up green. Happily the green goes to a very nice buff brown as the wood ages and sunlight hits the green. Poplar has an amazing chatoyance type of grain pattern at right angles to the main grain. This is one of the most gorgeous wood grain patterns I have ever seen. When present this makes a gorgeous top piece of the shaft.
five strips, three cedar and two basswood, destined for a kit. Remember that each kit includes ten strips, enough for two paddles.
Paddle blade options can almost be their own book. While the default paddle blade turns
out an awesome paddle, I am happy to change things up, after all there is no absolute right or wrong in this pursuit of watery pleasure.
Some of the choices beyond the default include:
- type - western red cedar, reclaimed curly redwood, basswood, multi-piece, pine, figured pine, knotty pine, Douglas fir, monkey pod, osage orange, zebrawood, leopardwood, myrtlewood, reclaimed barnboard, reclaimed clear redwood, walnut, yellowheart, alder, and more on occasion as I discover new materials and add them.
- surface area (aka 'size')- a murky area. Another space where no absolutes exist. For me, the faster I suddenly try to move a paddle through the water, the more stress I put on shoulder joints. In my experience this is more about digging in and suddenly catching the water and straining hard to get moving. On occasion arguments have risen up over 'too big' or 'too small'. It's all experiential AND HOW you use your paddle, imo there is no absolute. It's easy enough to cut a paddle blade down to size, a half-inch off the inner edge removes ~9 square inches of area. For what it's worth, measuring surface area is easier said than done. Also worth keeping in mind how much of the blade actually catches the water on entry and first pull, as well as how much of the blade is used in an average paddle stroke. MUCH MORE to be written and video'd on this topic!
- thickness - need to consider how blade will match up with shaft piece
- silhouette - many different blade shapes depending on how big the original piece of wood is/was, as well as how the maker shapes the blade profile.
- upper end style -
- one piece -
- multi-piece of different types and sizes -
- thin inner blade piece -
- outer edge trim of purpleheart, paduak (bloodwood), walnut, wenge, pine, basswood
- tip guard
a mix of blade types, including from left to right: vg Douglas fir, vg western red cedar, multi-piece of cedar and paduak, and last but not least vg redwood.
The default handle is a chunk of wood with thumb pads and some ‘bulk’ to increase the circumference of the handle. The larger the handle is the less your hand needs to ‘squeeze’. Minimizing this grip motion, minimizes issues with carpal tunnel problems that gripping a ‘normal’ handle can aggravate.
That being said, there are still many ways to create a handle that is ergonomically very friendly to your hands and looks good too.
Just about anything is better than the simple t-grip found on most paddles, both ergonomically and stylistically.
Stripes are the easiest way to touch up a handle. Redwood strip on cedar, basswood strips on walnut or cedar, or just about any two woods with contrast between them can be built up and then shaped into a unique paddle that is large eniugh to allow for shaping and fitting to a paddler's hands.