Graham Warren and David Gidmark: Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own (Kingston, Ontario: Firefly Books, 2001) I have a copy of the fifth printing in 2012.
I build canoes, why shouldn’t I be carving my own paddles? It is a good question, though it didn’t interest me much before I started to get a bit more serious about freestyle paddling. As I experimented with different paddles, I began to get a sense of what I like and what I don’t like. Before long paddles that I have used for decades became not as favorite as others and my interest was sparked. I have access to a fair amount of Black Hills spruce, all air fired and ready for carving. It seemed like it was time to fire up the planer, get out the crooked knife and spokeshaves and get to work.
Friends in the canoe world all agree that Warren and Gidmark’s book is the best guide to making your own paddles. I had instructions for making paddles from several other canoe-building books, but this really is “complete” just as the subtitle claims. It is good to learn a bit about the history and and differences between various paddles and to learn how to make paddles that are not only functional, but also beautiful.
I still can’t carve a paddle that is as good as some of the ones that the custom paddle makers produce, but I and learning and there is great satisfaction in paddling a canoe you made with a paddle you carved.