My two bits
Posted by: mrmannerz on Sep-25-12 12:41 PM (EST)
1. Pick out a good piece of straight grained wood - I've used spruce, cherry, alder, cedar. I don't usually get my choice of wood type...I buy the best grain available. I wouldn't bother carving a paddle until you find a good piece of wood if I were you. You'll need 5/4 or thicker to avoid having to laminate to get the correct shaft thickness. I've used both tightbond III and gorilla glue for laminating with good results.
2. I like oiled finishes. They get smoother as you use the paddle and it is easier than a varnished finish to touch up scratches and dings. I use varnishes only when I work with very soft woods like yellow cedar. I am happy with boiled linseed oil although others use tung or their own mixes.
3. I have had very good luck using artists acrylic paints for decorative designs. The thinner type that comes in plastic bottles works best. It comes in dozens of colors. I've used it with oil and varnishes and had no problems.