Here Dee sets the rough-cut paddle blank into the channel jig she designed and built using a pine 2x4, wooden dowels and carefully-spaced holes she cut with an electric drill and bit.
The channel jig accomplishes several tasks. Not only does it hold the blank firmly in place for cutting and shaping (the jig has to be securely clamped to the worktable), each bridge forms a peaked curve over which the router, sometimes referred to as a laminate trimmer, floats.
As the router follows the paths of the curves, it cuts into the blank a shape that duplicates the curve. Sounds complex in words, but look carefully at the photo and you'll readily grasp the idea. (By the way, the photos can be enlarged. Simply click on them to open them.)
Above: the rough-cut paddle blank strapped in and ready for routing. If you look carefully at the bridges of the channel jig, you'll note how the bridges near top right of the photo are flat, where Greenland paddles are flattest and thinnest. Moving down, to the left corner of the photo, you'll notice that the bridges get steeper and more peaked, mimicking where a Greenland paddle becomes rounder, thicker, and more peaked at the center of the paddle.
Cutting with an electric router is noisy work. You have to wear serious hearing protection. (See the first post, which shows the Mickey Mouse ears-style hearing protection some woodworkers call cans.)
Cutting with the router is also dicey work. You won't believe how fast a router bit spins. One slip and, should the router fall off the table, you may feel the router bit merrily spinning its way through your leg or kneecap.
The key is the jig which Dee spent considerable time designing and building. The time she spent building the jig she readily made up in how rapidly she was able to shape her first paddle with the router.
For her next Greenland paddle or two, the jig is already built. Thus the jig follows the law of increasing returns. The more paddles Dee carves (hey, no one ever builds just one Greenland paddle, just like no one ever builds just one wooden kayak) the more return she gets in terms of saved time.
Above: A Porter-Cable router. Porter-Cable's well-known for making high-quality long-lasting power tools that aren't too expensive. Routers (sometimes referred to as laminate trimmers) are tricky tools. Their bits spin fast, the routers are heavy, and together the two are so effective at cutting that in the wrong hands they can quickly turn a project into sawdust or body parts into Swiss cheese. Best to use one only after some workshop tutoring with an experiences user.
There's other stuff on Dee's worktable worth noting: a SureForm tool, a clamp, measuring tape, sanding block, etc., tools Dee will use to burnish the paddle to a smooth, silky finish.
copyright 2008/North American Kayak Fishing