Ottertail Paddle Help

Discussion in 'Paddling' started by Youcantreadinthedark, May 5, 2018.

  1. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Greetings folks,
    I'm making a couple of paddles, and I'd like to move away from the ubiquitous beavertail, but I'm unsure of the dimensions of the ottertails. I really like the shape, and I think it'd be a much better paddle for someone with torn up shoulders. I took a stab at it, but it doesn't feel right; essentially, all I did was add blade length to a beavertail pattern, and now it's too long overall.

    Could someone who has an ottertail (or six) please tell me four numbers - overall length, blade length, WIDTH of the blade, and the height of the paddler using it?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ragman

    Ragman Supporter Supporter

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    Can't help out but that's looking good.
     
  3. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Thank you; creating the blade bevels was a lot tougher than I thought it'd be.
     
  4. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    Paging @Murat V... Murat V, please come to the main floor... your expertise is needed.

    If he doesn't appear soon, go to his web page:
    all about making paddles and wannigans... incredible work.

    http://paddlemaking.blogspot.com/
     
  5. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    You've got an otter tail hidden in there just rewo thIGYCXXX7.jpg rk to get the shape.
     
  6. Sandcut

    Sandcut Sed ego sum homo indomitus Vendor

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    Check out this site for Grey Owl Paddles. https://greyowlpaddles.com/paddles/

    If you find one like you like, open the page for that style and your dimensions are at the bottom of the page. That should get you started.

    FYI, I have a cherry Sagamore and it is AWESOME!
     
  7. Niagara

    Niagara Scout

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    I've made several ottertail / beavertail paddles (roughed shape with bandsaw - then all by hand - spokeshave, plane, then rasp, file, on down the line to finish sanding and finishing as I see on your bench.)
    The easy cheat is to trace one you like.
    Barring that - there are paper plans/templates to be had - or drawn. Now since you are well past that stage - I think you can still salvage an ottertail by softening the shoulder line off the shaft, then tapering along down the blade to the tip. Looks like poplar? Be nice and light I would think.
    Of course you know sharp blades make the process much easier - but I really love a quality rasp for creating nice smooth flowing transitions.

    I will take some pics of mine for reference.
    Also - Square inch surface of the paddle is what matters when pulling in the water - not sure shape really has that much impact.
    Niagara
     
  8. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Thank you all, that's a great start. I can certainly rework what I've got going on this one into an ottertail, and that just means the next one will be that much better. -ycritd
     
  9. Niagara

    Niagara Scout

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    pics from mine - hope it helps.
    Niagara
     

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  10. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    thank you sir, that helps quite a bit.

    @Sandcut - jeez those are nice! Those dimensions are great, thank you sir.
     
  11. billybass

    billybass Supporter Supporter

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    I was going to buy one of these but it looks like they are no longer in business. the page has the blade dimensions and a guide to sizing the overall paddle.
    http://maskwapaddles.ca/Ottertail.html
     
  12. Niagara

    Niagara Scout

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    @Youcantreadinthedark - also that was was from my paddle - I'm over 6' and I actually find it a bit long still.
    If you want I can take pics and dimensions from my wife's paddle (doesn't sound right to type on the internet.....:confused:) - I can use it too but just a bit short for me. So if I do another - it will be somewhere in the middle.
     
  13. Sandcut

    Sandcut Sed ego sum homo indomitus Vendor

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    Yeah, I never thought that I could become enamored with something as utilitarian and commonplace as a canoe paddle. Even more, the store that I bought it from was more of a storage shed then a store, so it was VERY unromantic. But I couldn't put it down. I tried. I picked it up and walked away 4 or 5 times before I walked out with it.

    There are some things in life that you just share a bond with somehow...my wife, my dog, and this 60" piece of wood. Wierd!
     
  14. Murat V

    Murat V Scout

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    A really nice tripping ottertail pattern is in Graham Warren's book - Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own. His ottertail is the blade right under the word "David" on the cover.

    [​IMG]


    There's a webpage of an Italian fellow who basically lifted Graham's offset measurements and posted on a webpage below:

    http://www.aldovarotto.org/canoa/pagaia_en.htm

    Measurements are metric but it's roughly 6" at the widest point and 30" long. I make my paddles with a total length of 58" so the shaft length is 28". My height is a short 5'7" . Despite trying all sorts of methods to determine ideal length, found that a paddle that goes right up to my chin when standing is a simple formula that works for me.

    Have fun working on your paddle!
     
  15. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Great, something else to spend money on...
    Thank you, I'm 6'4", and I use the chin method too. Makes for a pretty big flyswatter. Some fantastic stuff on your blog! -ycritd
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  16. RavenLoon

    RavenLoon axology student Supporter

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    I have an ottertail I bought at an auction. It's cherry and is custom made with no logo. 59" OA. Widest part about 3 inches from at the top of the blade almost 6". Narrow part two inches from the bottom is 4" wide there. The bottom is a rounded circular arc of 3 1/2". Blade is about 28" depending where you call the start of it. It fits me ok I think but could be a couple inches longer. It is a few inches lower than my chin I'm 6'4". I own about 10 wood paddles all vintage or hand made and this is my only ottertail. Since it is my only ottertail, I use it quite a bit relative to the rest of my paddles individually. I usually have this paddle and a beavertail in the canoe at the same time and switch off. I don't have a favorite.
     
  17. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    [​IMG]

    Here's what I ended up with. I tapered it down width-wise and took a bunch of meat out of the flats, and left a nice bevel from the centerline on each side. It's not an ottertail, but it's a good start. I'll narrow the blade even more and lengthen it another five or six inches on the next one, and that taper will be even more pronounced, and then we'll be in business. Thank you all for your input, this thread turned into a wealth of information I can reference going ahead.
     
  18. roadwarrior

    roadwarrior Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I like this, please show us some pics when you are paddling with it.
     
  19. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    ^this^

    Great thread, I approve :D
    (And intend to utilize)
     
  20. GotTheCrohns

    GotTheCrohns Tracker

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    I have recently started making some paddles. Lofted numbers for an Ottertail from this website http://www.aldovarotto.org/canoa/pagaia_en.htm. Easy to do. I taped together some empty cereal boxes, layed it out and had a pattern. First one I ever lofted and made.
     
  21. Jason Eke

    Jason Eke Tracker

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    Great looking paddles.

    Don't forget that paddle design is based on function, just like canoe design. Its a very popular canoe paddle shape because it has a very slender appealing design.

    I personally really like the Otter Tail look but it would be one of my last choices for a canoe paddle. Really its only good for small lakes or for style canoeing.

    I think most people realize this when they're out on a canoe trip and get into shallow water and all of a sudden discover that they're trying to move a canoe with only a few inches of paddle in the water. Whereas a wide blade paddle moves the boat in all water conditions.

    Have a look at Sprint Canoe Paddles and Slolom Canoe Paddles. Of course both are Olympic sports and not the same as recreational paddling, but with the high degree of competitiveness and investment in sports science and technology to create boats and paddles that have a better performance in the water... you can see, nobody is using a narrow bladed paddle. Not if you want to get where you want to be efficiently.

    I'm not crapping on those that like them. If you just want to get out and muck about it doesn't really matter, but if you're planning on covering great distances or would just like to get where your going a bit sooner, I'd stick with a tripping style paddle. (I use an expedition plus from Bending Branches)
     
  22. Bad Little Falls

    Bad Little Falls Guide

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    I'm not sure what style paddle I use, home made of a shape that seems to work. For sure a longer slender paddle is fun to use, I think my paddle falls toward that category. It is said to take a second spare paddle when heading out with a canoe. I have broken a paddle and at that time did not take along a second, so the short trip back was a challenge. I do bring along a second paddle, but it is not as we think, my second paddle is a pole. The pole handles those shallow conditions where my longer blade paddle contacts the bottom very well.
     
  23. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    It's true that racing improves the breed, but racing gear doesn't always fit real-world uses.

    An ottertail works real well when soloing in a tandem size canoe. The extra reach of the long blade helps with turning and control, without the awkwardness of an overly long shaft. I like to pair the ottertail with a pole (or two) when alone in a tandem. Between the two, deep water and shallow water are both covered well.

    Just last weekend, I did a 24 mile trip in my river tandem, on a mixed shallow, deep, class 2, and flat river. I used the pole and the ottertail, and I wouldn't have chosen anything else. The previous year, I did that same trip, but used a modern "Sugar Island" style paddle. Not expecting any deep water (it was my firs time down that river), I neglected to bring the ottertail, but wished I had.

    Limiting yourself to one kind of paddle (or paddles in general) limits what you can do with a canoe, and how much enjoyment you can have in one.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  24. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Guide

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    I'm with the ottertail crowd. There's the issue of older shoulders to consider for me. In fact, maybe I shouldn't even comment because I never paddle anymore, but do keep an ottertail in the boat at all times. I row or sail.

    But here's why I like the O'tail:
    Less face resistance. Yeah, it's no racing model, and you won't be squealing tires off the line, but the design has advantages over the wider models. Namely, it produces less fatigue over long distances, a feature well noticed by any who use it. Also, it has the excellent characteristic of being "slippery" in the water as you manipulate the blade while paddling. I rarely take the blade out of the water while paddling because there is no need. With its long blade, giving depth, it takes but a thought to correct or to change the angle because it has little drag when turned - especially if raised slightly so the wide part is out of the water. It is by far the quietest paddle I have ever used.
     
  25. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    I'd hate for this thread to develop any friction, I think it's becoming a wealth of good resources and good opinions. There's clearly some paddling experience to be learned from out there!
    My objective in building this kind of paddle was to try something new, and I'm happy that I did; if you've only done one thing, how much perspective can you have? Thanks to all for the input so far.
     
  26. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    @FreeMe and @Murat V - thanks for turning me on to this book - it's fantastic. Highly recommend it to anyone out there looking to get an amazingly comprehensive look at paddle design and production. It also has a great chapter on making a crook knife from scratch, including the whole process plus a look at different styles suited to different purposes.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a beavertail (no oil yet) and an ottertail (oiled) from the dimensions in the book. They're both cherry, and both significantly lighter than my store-bought FeatherLite sugar-island-ish looking paddle. When I get another good piece of cherry I'll do a proper Sugar Island.
    [​IMG]
     
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  27. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    WOWEE!!!

    Great job on those bud!!

    I love the look of that otter. What'll you take in trade?? :)
     
  28. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    It's bent. :(
    As soon as i cut the blank out, it went SPROING! and there's a good inch-deep bow in the handle. Perfectly serviceable paddle, but every time I pick it up I grimace.

    If you still want it, and you can figure out how to ship it and pay for shipping, it's yours. It's maybe 5'10" long, and about six inches at the top of the blade. Light as a dang feather, though!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2018
  29. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Show us the bow?

    Was it hidden grain orientation that bowed it?
     
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  30. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    @CivilizationDropout WHERE'S THE TRUST, BRAH??

    No, I studied the grain pretty good before I drew, it's solid wood...honestly, I traced a paddle to get the shaft-length right, and what I think I did was accidentally shift the trace mid-line.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    But man, what a difference using a hand plane and drawknife makes, compared to attacking it with a belt-sander or something...great flatgrain.

    [​IMG]

    ETA you can see my beavertail hanging up after getting a coat of tung oil! Psyched how that one came out!!
     
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  31. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    I'll bite.

    Expect a PM.. :D
     
  32. jess minish

    jess minish Tinder Gatherer

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    Can't you straighten that with some heat/steam?
     
  33. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Yea, but it's more fun to make a new one.
     
  34. Seahunter

    Seahunter Scout Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    I made 2 Algonquin paddles using the measurements off this guys website. I don't have much canoeing experience, but I was amazed at how quiet that paddle is. It might not set a speed record but it is still a highly refined, just for a different purpose. This is a picture of it roughed out.
    paddle.jpg
     
  35. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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