Carving A Cherrywood Voyageur Style Canoe Paddle At Lee Valley Tools

If you are into woodworking, there is a chain of stores in Canada called Lee Valley Tools that’s been around for a number of years specializing in traditional wood working tools.

They had a series of canoe paddle events due to Canada 150 celebrations so I decided to sign up for the event held in Halifax a few weeks ago.

The class was small with most people driving in at least half a day from neighbouring provinces to attend.

Type of Canoe Paddle

We had three types of paddle to choose from

  • ottertail
  • modern beavertail
  • voyageur


Canoe Paddle Wood Selection

The type of wood varied, you had birch, ash, maple, walnut and if you were the right fit there were a few spotted maple & curly birch pieces.

Most of the work was done as many blanks were pre-cut. So the first task was to size a paddle and hopefully the type of wood you wanted.

I ended up getting a cherrywood blank in voyageur style.


Tools Used

The only tools we needed were: pencil, rasp, hand planer and some other tools from Lee Valley. This one worked very well for me as I started to shave down the wood.

Veritas Spokeshaves

After marking a number of guidelines, you spent the next six hours working your piece of wood into a paddle. By the end of the day, you should have something finished that you can either finish sanding at home or varnish.


The Finish

Three coats of Spar Varnish for the wall, five coats for the water. I finished off using 220 & 400 grit sandpaper.

It wasn’t until I started sanding that the paddle came together. I was very happy with the end result. Yeah sure, you could buy something cheaper at the store, and once you look closer the paddle isn’t perfect but I like it.


Spar varnish is really bringing out some nice color out of this chery wood canoe paddle

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