LesForgue wrote:If a cedar board has a nice deep reddish color, does that mean it is heartwood and not strong enough to make a canoe paddle?
Those western red cedar boards at home depot are very pretty, very light weighted, and very easy to cut and shape (and very inexpensive).
But maybe paddles made from them would not last very long?
from my research it seems the ancestors used cedar a lot for paddles, but also that maybe breaking and replacing their paddles was frequent.
The heartwood of Western Red Cedar is usually a deep red colour. The heartwood is stiffer than the sapwood. Whether it is strong enough will depend on the diameter you make the shaft, whether the shaft is round or oval, how strong you are, size of blade etc etc.
First Nations used WRC to make canoe paddles because it was easy for them to get the wood. They would usually fall the tree using a controlled fire at the base and then use wedges to split out planks. From there is was easy to form paddles. Using cedar was way easier than trying to work Western hemlock, Douglas fir or balsam, the other main species of the area.
I think if you look at a lot of the ancient paddles, they are a lot like the Greenland paddle, that is have a fairly narrow blade.