• Happy National Rum Day!

canoe paddle oil finish ...

Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
534
Reaction score
246
Location
Dodgeville, Wi
I am finishing an ash wood paddle soon and wondering if anyone has a preference of oil to use, I have always used Boiled Linseed oil and it has been ok, wondering if Tung oil or something else is preferred by any of you traditionalists. Also, do you sand between coats, or just oil - let soak in - rub off excess - and repeat the next day or so until you get the desired patina, or it stops soaking in.

Bob.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
Hey Bob, I use BLO or Tung, I read that tung might be a bit better for wet environments so I've been using that lately. I usually put some in a container big enough to accept the tip of that paddle and after all the sanding is done, I let the tip soak in for a few hours, I do the same with the grip. after all that is well saturated, I coat the entire paddle with some Tung and "wet" sand it for 5 minutes or so to make sure that the paddle had a chance to absorb a lot of oil, I wipe it off and recite the entire thing and lest sit for 10-15 minutes... Wipe off. I do apply a few coats once a day for a few days, no sanding in-between the coats.

What I've started doing after the initial oiling, is I apply many coats of spar varnish on the blade, and oils the shaft I found that is a bit more protection for the blade. If you don't want to have the shinny varnished look, you can wet sand the blade with 1000 grit and it will comme nice and "flat" looking!!
 
G

Guest

Guest
I am finishing an ash wood paddle soon and wondering if anyone has a preference of oil to use, I have always used Boiled Linseed oil and it has been ok, wondering if Tung oil or something else is preferred by any of you traditionalists. Also, do you sand between coats, or just oil - let soak in - rub off excess - and repeat the next day or so until you get the desired patina, or it stops soaking in.

I have had issues with oiled linseed oil developing black splotches under the oil.

My usual oil now is a mix of 1/3 boiled linseed oil, 1/3 turpentine and 1/3 spar varnish. Wipe it on, let it sit for a bit, wipe off any excess, wait a day and repeat. Sometimes 6, 7 8 coats on a paddle grip.

I like the finish and it feels nothing like straight varnish. Plus it is a good way to use up the last little dregs from a near empty can of varnish. The turpentine part does make it a little shop stinky.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2013
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
460
I have had issues with oiled linseed oil developing black splotches under the oil.

My usual oil now is a mix of 1/3 boiled linseed oil, 1/3 turpentine and 1/3 spar varnish. Wipe it on, let it sit for a bit, wipe off any excess, wait a day and repeat. Sometimes 6, 7 8 coats on a paddle grip.

I like the finish and it feels nothing like straight varnish. Plus it is a good way to use up the last little dregs from a near empty can of varnish. The turpentine part does make it a little shop stinky.

I've used the 3/3 finish like Mike suggested, used to be the only finish I would use on furnitures!! If you don't want the Turpentine smell, swap it for mineral spirit, work just as fine! It is a great finish, easy to touch up and that gives a bit more protection than just oil!!
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
534
Reaction score
246
Location
Dodgeville, Wi
I had a Badger paddle that was in great need of re-oiling. I should have sanded it more - dang it. Anyway, I have several coats of Boiled Linseed oil on the Cherry paddle. It looks nicer than the picture shows. It does shed water pretty well, - at least it did last week. It looks nice but feels so much better than varnish or poly. I do not think this will be super durable, but I guess I have a summer to see how it does before it needs to be touched up again.

Bob

MPpkTR1.jpg
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2015
Messages
577
Reaction score
20
Location
Kansas
Oil has such a nice feel to it. Some tricks to applying, thin it 50:50 with mineral spirits or some other thinner and heat up the wood some first. If you heat the wood and apply the thinned oil as it cools the wood will soak up an incredible amount of oil. I keep applying until it doesn't soak anymore in. Usually 15-20 minutes between coats. Wet sand after that and finish with some mostly unthinned oil and buff. After that a couple of thin coats of paste wax buffed with a cloth. I dont wax the grip. The wax really helps with shedding the water. I just use the regular old BLO from the hardware store.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
534
Reaction score
246
Location
Dodgeville, Wi
Paste wax ... good idea, I have never thought of that. I think I can put a coat or two of that on this week and see how she does over the weekend.

Thanks Muskrat.

Bob.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2016
Messages
177
Reaction score
0
Warming the wood in advance of applying first liquid coats is a good idea. Also, warm the liquid too so that it cools 'with' the substrate, rather than drawing heat away from the wood.

As you know, these annoying bubbles that materialize inside the first coat are often called 'out-gassing', and they occur as the substrate warms up during cure (especially with exothermic material like epoxy). The warming environment expands tiny air bubbles that got trapped within the micro-landscape of the wood when the liquid was applied.

'Out-gassing' is a little misleading-- it's more like 'up-gassing', because the expanded bubbles rise out of the micro-valleys of the surface, not 'out' of the wood. Wood is a closed-cell structure-- true 'out-gassing', however, could come from a crack.

The cure should take place as the work is cooling down-- this prevents expansion of those micro-bubbles that are lurking in the valleys.

A thinner (or less viscous) first coat makes a lot of sense, even with epoxy-- especially if it isn't practical to modify the temperature.

As well as lowering the temperature during cure, if you could increase the atmospheric pressure in the room, that would also help keep bubbles small!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 18, 2016
Messages
820
Reaction score
362
Location
Bowmanville, Ontario
Wax isn't a good idea on a surface you are going to handle ... it has too much friction, I wouldn't advise that option on the handle area.

I have had good luck with Tung oil, applied and allowed to absorb ... then apply more and sand (increase grit with each coat) using the excess to create a slurry. I usually go out (4-5 coats) to about 600 grit with this and it makes a really nice smooth, good in the hand finish.

Brian
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
879
Reaction score
232
Location
Western Adirondacks
A long time paddle maker (Caleb Davis) uses 10% spar varnish mixed with 90% oil on the grip and shaft, and the inverse ratio on the blade. Seems to look, feel, protect, and last really well.
 

Glenn MacGrady

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
2,870
Reaction score
1,053
Location
Connecticut
I've used a variety of oils on paddle, gunwales and other woodwork over the years and prefer Watco Teak. Watco has several blends; the teak is for outdoor wood. Watco is actually a linseed oil mixture.

For paddles, I like varnish on blade and shaft and oil or nothing on grip. To touch up blades I use a wipe-on varnish.

Actually, if you move to carbon paddles you can forget all the maintenance crap.
 
G

Guest

Guest
for me- varnish on the shaft or grip gives me blisters. I lightly watco those.
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2014
Messages
1,291
Reaction score
286
Location
Minden, NV
I paddle rivers a lot, so my paddles have thick blades and squared off ends. I made one out of mahogany with a white ash stringer and some walnut. It has held up to tough use. I use it as a cutting board to make dinner.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
302
Reaction score
152
Location
Williston, VT
I use BLO on grip, shaft and blade. I wipe on a thin coat every other outing or so. It's enjoyable maintenance for me.
 
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
I imagine the OP will have been using his ash paddle for five years by now, but the last contribution was only 17 months ago, so I'll just add my experience FWIW.

I finished my four home-made one-piece paddles (3 maple, 1 ash) with Danish Oil, and it has held up well over about 20 years. Although I tend to nurse my paddles, after a long trip or several short ones they do look a bit scraped. On my return home I simply rub them over with a Scotchbrite dipped in Danish Oil, then wipe the excess off with a cotton rag and hang them up to dry overnight. Dead easy, and they look like new afterwards. This renovation tends to happen twice a year. The handle end never seems to need re-oiling, although the lower grip does. The variety of Danish Oil I use is made by Rustins - but I am in the UK, I don't know whether that is available in N America. I have tried another type (I forget the brand), but rejected it as unsatisfactory.

I am very happy with this finish and will be using it again shortly on a couple more ash paddles that I am making. I have used raw linseed oil on other things (mainly tool handles). In that context, linseed starts off a rather hideous yellow, and gets grubby over time (presumably because it takes months to dry). Danish Oil is a neutral or cold straw colour and doesn't get grubby.

Incidentally, my canoe was originally finished with Deks Olje (not the shiny version), but these days I just rejuvenate it with Danish Oil as above at the start and end of each season.
 
Top