Coracle Paddles
April 3-4, 2015

I found an excellent set of instructions for making a coracle using modern materials - 1/8" plywood and polyester covering, to be exact. We will be doing the build on May 2, 2015. In the mean time, I decided to try my hand at making some paddles.

This is the overview. The paddle has a remarkable resemblance to a claming shovel, and I strongly suspect that's what they might have been.

To save wood, I came up with this plan of starting with a 60" piece of 1" thick stock and rip it into the sizes needed. I think traditional coracleers carved their paddles from driftwood.

Here's the glue-up of one of the paddles - I was using Alowood for the shaft and Poplar for the blade. Why those woods? For the same reason the original coracleers used driftwood: It's what I had.

Glued up paddles.

I don't know what to call that little bump across the top of the handle, but this is my glue-up of that. Let's start there with the build.

Step 1 was to run it through the router. It is 1" thick, so a 1/2" roundover bit would have made a nicely rounded end, but I only had a 3/8 roundover and decided that was good enough.

Once rounded on he router, I sliced off the rounded bit resulting in a 1/2" thick piece.

And there it is. 3 minutes work? 5? Let's call it 5, just to be generous.

To round the shaft, I just took it to the router. Again, because my roundover bit is only 3/8, the resulting shape was more square-ish than roundish, but round enough. This step took about a minute.

The drawing of the lines took a little longer, maybe 5 minutes. It's pretty unnecessary, but this was my first time, and I wanted a guide.

Time to taper the handle. A power planer works wonderfully for this, finished off with a belt sander using 40 grit paper.

Call it 3 minutes to include the time it took to clamp the paddle to the work surface.

The blade - tapered top to bottom, left to right.

Needs a wee bit more shaping.

Call it 5 minutes shaping time.

That looks like about 19 minutes of shaping.

I glued on the little rounded over bit on the handle (1 minute) and let it cure over night, then took it all to the Boathouse for final sanding. As sanding is a personal preference, I did not count the time. My point is: Coracle paddles are ridiculously simple and quick to make.