Friday, August 1, 2014

Unangan Single Bladed Paddle to Double Conversion and Back Again

When I first saw this picture of a double bladed paddle, I thought it was a new Aleut type.  And so I made a copy of it.  As it turned out, it was too short for me and I never used it after its original trial. Later, the photo showed up on some forum and somebody perceptive pointed out that the double bladed paddle looked like it was two single bladed paddles lashed together, possibly after having been sawed to better fit together. Sure enough, if you look carefully, you can see the lashing that made one paddle out of two.  The picture was taken at the Chicago Field Museum when it was the site for the World Fair.
The problem with using a single bladed blade shape for a double-bladed paddle is that the single bladed paddle is designed to be used more or less vertically so that the full blade is immersed in the water at then end of the stroke.  The blade on the double bladed Aleut paddle is widest near the tip so you can get more blade in the water at the beginning of the stroke at a lower blade angle.

Click on the photo for a better view.  Note the single bladed paddle tucked under the improvised double bladed paddle.
Just recently, it occurred to me that the one paddle out of two process could be reversed and if I cut my too short double paddle in half and spliced some more wood to it. Then I could have two usable single bladed paddles instead of just one unusable double bladed paddle.
The double cut in half on a bandsaw. The half on the right already has its extension glued to it. 

And here, a close-up of the sliced portion of the paddle.
Soon as my paddle transformation is complete, I will report on the performance of these paddles.

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