1) Went to a local lumber mill and picked out a perfect piece of cherry wood, 1 ½” x 6 x 6, the board is completely knot free, straight grain and a beautiful pattern. I much prefer the cherry over the cedar and for canoe paddles will never make another from cedar again. The wood is much richer and harder and let’s be honest, once done the grain pattern in cherry looks so amazing.
2) Upgraded some of my tools, I was using whatever I could find at the local hardware, specifically a couple of Stanley planes (mini + bench plane) and a two spokeshaves (flat and round), while they seemed to work ok (constant sharpening) on cedar, on the cherry wood, well… once that wood gets hard it gets increasingly frustrating. Went to Lee Valley tools and picked up some replacement high quality blades to replace the stock crap ones that came with the tool, I also picked up a high end low profile apron plan from Veritas. OMFG what a difference it makes in hand carving the paddles, new blades go through wood like butter and makes everything so much easier. Quality tools make all the different in the world.
3) More confidence, I know what to expect now and the different stages so this was more fun and less about learning the basics, still have a long way to go but I am impressed with what I have learned so far.Here is my paddle completely shaped but with no finish, going to do a separate post on the finishing process.