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I think you're actually asking about にする and not just に. に isn't a verb after all. It has a lot of uses, each probably worth a question of their own. Here are some definitions from Jisho.org: AをBにする to place, or raise, person A to a post or status B to transform A to B; to make A into B; to exchange A for B to make use of A for B; to view ...


I don't think there are any な-adj in the third sentence at all (only nouns, which function like な adjectives), に is used as a general location particle, and is not limited to actual places, the first clause in 箸を櫂にして川を上っていきました which is 箸を櫂にして would mean, "Chopsticks, in (in the form of a) paddle, is done" "In the way of a paddle, chopsticks were being ...

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