Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wood working. With Your Hands.

October 20, 2016


I enjoy, maybe even have some passion for, wood and paddle making. One of the many beauties of woodworking is the degree to which it absorbs all of your senses. It’s really cool. At least for me it is. The radio is on in the background, the cedar (or redwood and walnut in the picture above) smells awesome and the hand plane is making these neat little sounds. Bit by bit the shaft comes into the shape I want, time passes, and I am absorbed in what goes on in front of me with hand and tool and wood. For me, there’s nothing else like it. Exercise, reading, even paddling, all  come up short in comparison to the sheer multi sense pleasure tickle that hand tools and a piece of wood give me.

So next time the TV is on and yet you’re bored, or your home from work, the lawn does not need mowing and it’s still warm out, have a go with the stack of wood in your garage and the spokeshave that’s calling your name and patiently waiting to tickle. I think you’ll find your brain goes on auto-pilot and you are absorbed in the sheer pleasure of creating something by hand. Your hand.


Canoecopia in rear view mirror

March 14, 2016

Just like so many of the other CC events, this year’s version of Canoecopia hummed with energy and good stuff. For me it’s fun just to see aisles packed with people all revolving around paddling – one way or another. After talking with so many other enthusiasts, now more than ever I really enjoy the neat place that paddlemaking occupies. The combination of making something with your own hands that you then use with your own hands is a great feeling. Lots of good vibes.

CC2016  was wavetrainSUP’s jump into offering complete paddles in addition to the paddle kits that have long been our standard fare. Building paddle from concept through completion was what got me started with wavetrainSUP in the first place after all. Creating Happy Ghosts, Solid Citizens, Knotty Farmhands, and Old School Reds puts me right back in the mindset of making something. It’s all absorbing. I love the place I find myself in when I am making a paddle. There’s nothing quite like shaping a shaft or finishing a blade that offers such an absorbing combination of physical work and mental focus. I love it.

There’s lots of updating to the website. If you came by the booth you saw all the paddles as well as the parts and pieces. Now it’s time to go into camera mode and refresh the website with imagery that matches everything in the booth.

Happy paddling! Jeff

PS – I hope you will sign up for our newsletter!


Free copy of book **

February 16, 2016

A few years back I wrote a book about making bent shaft paddles. It was a version 1 book. A couple years later it is in dire need of refinement and updating. So don’t buy this current version. Wait for the update. It’ll be out shortly after Canoecopia.

If you already purchased the book, I will give you a free copy of the updated book. Sorry about the timing, if you’ve already made a paddle. Hopefully the updated book will inform a bit more for your second paddle.

To get your free copy just take a picture of you and the book or the paddle you made based on the book and email it to paddle(at)

Shaping Paddle Blades

November 25, 2015
working on the blade for a paddleboard paddle

One step in the life of a new paddle blade is the process of removing any rough edges or spots. I also thin the blade a bit, as in the picture above (btw, the shavings are from a whole batch of blade pieces). Using a plane makes for a great smell as paper thin shavings come off the cedar blade.

Once the blade blank is smoothed and checked, it’s ready for life as part of a paddle, a paddle built by you, on your table or counter.

Blade pieces in a wavetrainSUP kit are vertical grain clear western red cedar, unless you want something different like walnut or redwood, or a piece of knotty cedar.

Each kit contains enough materials for two paddles. That means four big blade pieces, enough for two paddles. This gives you a ‘warmup’ paddle to learn on or experiment. Once that first project is complete and your paddle building instincts are warmed up, you can take what you learned on the first one and build the second paddle.

A day in the sun watching Floatzilla

August 16, 2015

Floatzilla is River Action’s annual attempt to break the Guinness World Book of Records entry for number of canoes and kayaks in a single free floating raft. This year RA added a costume contest to FLoatzilla. This pair of paddlers had two of my favorite costumes. Look out for it next summer, it’s a fun way to do some Mississippi paddling and maybe be part of a record.

Customer Paddles

July 13, 2015

Matt D. from somewhere out in sunny (and presumably dry) California sent in some pictures from his paddlemaking project. The paddles look good and his emails read happy!

The Humble Hold-down

July 9, 2015

Woodworking tools range from complex and electric to simple and manual. You need tools to make a paddle. I take care of the electric and complex tools. You get to work with your hands using the manual tools. Each paddle kit comes with materials for two paddles that can be built ENTIRELY with hand power.
That said, there are several hand tools that make paddle making even easier. The humble hold-down (or is it holddown?) being one of them.

There are at least two different styles. Both come in quite handy. I have a couple of the portable, removable red hold-downs and several of the vise grip types as well. The red style is particularly handy because you can install one in the middle of your work area, assuming of course you are not averse to drilling a hole in your work surface. The vise grip style needs a table edge to grip.
Both definitely earn their keep and then some.
Happy paddling!

Paddle Handle update

June 29, 2015

The first style of one piece handle I made included a notch, which required the maker to laboriously fit that notch with the top end of the first shaft strip. It worked, and still does, but it was a time consuming step in the project.

The new handles remove that back side notch. This means that the top of the first shaft strip can be left square, if desired. Or you can shape that top end as you see fit and leave it. Or you can cut side pieces from scrap and epoxy those side pieces in place. Once dry the handle backside can then be shaped to the maker’s desire.

I like adding side pieces, most of the time in a contrasting color from the shaft piece and/or the handle itself. It’s another option for customizing your paddle. Best of all, I think it improves the process of mating the handle with the shaft.
adding handle to a paddle
side pieces for the handle
an example of a wavetrainsup paddle handle

A customer’s paddleboard paddle

May 8, 2015

Matt D, from way out on the edge of the continent, sent in some pics. He’s worked his way into a fine looking paddle.
a DIY paddle from paddlemaker Matt Davis
He custom-shaped his large blade pieces, which is certainly possible. The blanks I send are more in the inland paddling tradition. The upside of this is that there is material to work with, so if you want to change the blade profile that is certainly possible.
Looks great!

Z is for the Zeya river

April 30, 2015

I’m trying to stay at least within the broad realm of paddling water on this the final day of the challenge. The Zeya River comes to the rescue in a nick of time as I was just about to resort to the Phrontistery for an unusual “Z” word. The Zeya River in the Amur Oblast region is weird enough to satisfy. It is also wet, paddlable and fishable. The Wiki entry for this river is quite brief, likely the shortest entry out of all the entries I have used in this challenge. Must be an exotic unknown place, with fierce guards letting only a select few into its big unknown.

Happy trails bloggers!