Power Stroke Blade Design
A 'power stroke' blade design simply means that the blade is offset a few degrees from the center line. The most common
offsets are 12° and 14°. This offset delivers more power while being easier on the arms.
How does it do that?
These paddles are held with the blade offset pointing up as you begin the stroke. That is, if you were reaching to put the
paddle into the water, the blade would be pointing up towards the sky. This allows for easier entry into the water.
As the paddle travels past you during the stroke, the blade will end up being pointed down, or towards the front of the canoe. This causes a couple of things to happen. First of all, the blade stays in the water longer due to the offset. The longer the blade stays in the water, the more power you are supplying to pushing the canoe. Hence, power stroke. The second thing is that as the blade finally comes out of the water, it is now angled down. This results in you lifting less water as the paddle comes out, making it easier on the arms. Less strain means you can paddle longer.
If you've never tried a power stroke paddle, you are in for a pleasant surprise!
Ergonomic Shaft Power Stroke Paddles
The curved shaft of these paddles is made by laminating 5-7 strips of wood on a custom made curved form. The thin strips are soaked in water and then bent and clamped in the form until dry. They are then taken out and glue is applied and the strips are again clamped in the form until the glue dries. The blade and handle are then glued to the shaft. Once dry, the paddle is shaped, planed to thickness and then sanded thoroughly. If a woodburning is to be done on the blade, it is done at this stage in the manufacturing process. Click on the thumbnail picture to see a larger image.
Straight Shaft Power Stroke Paddles
The shaft of this paddle is also made by laminating 5-7 strips of hardwood. The process is identical to the ergonomic shaft paddle but with a straight shaft. Click on the thumbnail picture to see a larger image.
I use 100% water-proof polyurethane glue in our paddle construction. The paddles are finished with 3 coats of spar varnish, wet sanded between coats, for a lasting finish.
Depending on the woods used, these paddles weigh in at between 22 to 28 oz.
What Woods I Use
I use a variety of combinations of hardwoods to produce my Paddles. The most common woods I use are:
By far the nicest wood to use for the shaft and blade is bass. It is lightweight and flexible and with almost no
grain, is wonderful to woodburn on. This is the wood of choice if thinking of a custom woodburned image on a paddle.
- Cherry - used for shafts, blades and accent strips
- Walnut - used for accent strips
- Bass - used for shafts and blades
- Birch - used for accent strips and edge pieces
- Hard Maple - used for accent strips, edge pieces and blade ends
- Black Willow - used for shafts and blades
- Butternut - used for shafts and blades
While I normally do the woodburning monochromatic, meaning just varying shades of brown, I can also do them with color added.
You can find a couple of examples done this way in my gallery. This adds a wonderful touch to the image!
Sizing your paddle
Regardless of whether you pick a straight shaft or bent shaft paddle, the size should be determined by the shaft length rather than the overall length.
The following formula generally applies: The shaft length should equal the distance from one's shoulder to the waterline of
the canoe. To find this distance, sit erect in a chair and measure from your chin to the seat. Add 6" to this measurement to get the approximate shaft length.
Therefore, someone whose chin to chair measurement is 26" would add 6" and come up with a 32" shaft length. This figure represents just a rough guide. A 2" plus/minus comfort range should also be thought about.
Finally, remember that the placement of the canoe seat will affect the length needed as well.
This is just a guide. If you already have a paddle whose length is just right, simply let us know and I will use that for you!