Ok, thought I would include some details on how my first paddle is making out and comments on what I will do differently on the next one (this is my practice paddle)
Starts with a piece of wood, I went with a 2x6 cedar paddle, wider than needed but have to have a 2x4 with as few knots as possible and a good grain. 2x4 is a challenge because trying to find one without knots is an exercise in futility and because 2x4's are generally cut from smaller trees the grain is usually the center, you really want the grain to be completely horizontal throughout the paddle because it makes shaping easier and the end result is more aesthetic. With a 2x6 or 2x12 you can usually find a 2x4 section that has fewer knots and a good cross section grain and then you can cut it to fit.
Next paddle, will go to a real lumber yard, not home depot and get a nice Western Red Cedar plank with NO knots (they come back to haunt you)
First step, cut to the correct paddle length, I don't have a table saw, band saw or skill saw, I marked up my section of board to a 2x4 and then used a jig saw to rip down the line, obviously the cut was anything but straight so I then grabbed my trusty power planer and straightened it out, this was a big mistake, you can't fix a crooked line no matter what you do and the rest of my measurements from that point forward were off, next paddle I will take it and get the section cut perfectly straight.
Now I had to measure paddle length, stretch your arms out as wide as possible (think I caught a fish this big) and write down the measurement, then add the distance from your elbow to your finger tips and add that to the first number, in my case ideal paddle length is 84", out with trusty jig saw and cut it to length, again, only have jig saw to cut and plane, crooked again but not so bad on the end, would be nice to have good saw for these cuts, next time either will pick up a saw or use hand saw with a guide block to cut it straight, jig saw just doesn't cut it.
With all that done, I know have a blank to work with, onto next step