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Custom Engraving in Canoe Paddles

Objective: To engrave 60 names of rivers onto 3 canoe paddles to be hung in the home


When the client approached me to see if I could help him with a very specific project of carving 60 names of rivers him and his wife have paddled over the years together onto 3 different canoe paddle styles as a Christmas present, I was a little hesitant, but I decided to go for it.

On the surface it sounds easy enough on the CNC, but a paddle has no flat surfaces and yes this complicates things in CNC land:-). Since the lettering needed to be really small so they could all fit on the paddle, the depth of the lettering couldn't be more then 3 thousands of an inch as to not blow out little pieces of the letters.

Now the curve of the blade of each of the paddles is different. Because the difference in the high spot - middle of the blade, to the side of the blade was about 0.25" you can't just set a cut depth.

So what I ended up doing is to model each paddle blade in Sketchup. Then in VCarve Pro, you can project the carving on top of the model, therefore it follows the shape of the blade as it's cutting.

The other problem was that one of the paddles was not machine made, so the curves were not perfect resulting in some flats etc, but it turned out great in the end.

CNC Engraved Paddle

CNC Engraved Paddle

The client had the plaque on their first canoe that got damaged and asked if I could attach it to one of the paddles as a little accent:

CNC Engraved Paddle

CNC Engraved Paddle

After the carving was done, I handed over the paddles and other people painted the paddles:

 CNC Engraved Paddle

CNC Engraved Paddle

I received this client picture of the finished project hung up in his house. Looks amazing if you ask me!

CNC Engraved Paddle

1 comment

  • Nice summary did such a great job!!

    Ed Chandler

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