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New grips for wood paddles?

Ainsworth paddle conversion, Take II

P5130009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Nothing beats a 43" metal and plastic paddle with a lopsided blade. And it's heavy, to boot.

I can’t do much about the length, weight and material. I can do something about the lopsidedness. Those Ainsworth blades were originally symmetrical, I had to carve curve one side to eliminate a busted chunk, and then need the other blade reshaped similarly, which fortunately was in the correct asymmetrical orientation for a double blade.

How that blade was broken is a mystery, that is some tough plastic; I think you would have to drive over it to break it

Continuing down Glenn’s asymptotical path I re-reshaped the Ainsworth blades symmetrical. As encountered on the first blade reshaping years ago there is a 2” wide aluminum spine running the length of that blade.

The cut end of that aluminum spine was visible on the ends of the originally re-shaped blades, and will be again. Less so after I’m done and paint the exposed metal black.

Some trial and error curve tracing with a gold Sharpie, trying to keep as much blade intact as possible with symmetry, followed by cutting coping saw curves cut down to that spine, a hacksaw through the aluminum center and I have a nearly symmetrical blade. Aluminum spine not yet cut off.

P6090008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I wasn’t worried about achieving perfect symmetry on the saw cuts; a little action with the 1” belt sander to round out and smooth off the blade edges, and a couple hand finishing swipes with 120 for a better round over, and presto

P6100010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Both blades are now 8” x 15”. I was sort of freehanding the curves, so one is rounder, one more teardrop.

That took all of 15 minutes to cut and sand. Time well spent; they would now make indestructible kid paddles in the bow of a backwards tandem.

P6100011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A coat of black paint on the exposed aluminum spine and those shortyshorts will be done.

P6100012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The last two once-upon-a-time double blades still need handles, the solid cherry Nashwaaks. Currently 50” without new grips, closer to 52 with handles added. Long, slender 5’ x 25” blades.

P6100015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I don’t see me coming up with DIY wood grips, so the black plastic Mohawks will have to do.

P6100018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A question for more experienced single bladers – given a choice between a tee grip and a pear grip which would you close for those paddles, and why?
Plastic it is. Re-worked asymmetrical pear grips. While I would have preferred wood, and a symmetrical palm grip or extra long Guide-style grip for the Nashwaaks, I had none, wasn’t hand carving any, and didn’t like the idea of putting an ugly tee grip on those pretty paddles.

The usual 1” belt sander to start forming a peg, slowing, incrementally, keep checking the fit, little bit more. . . .Then some hand file action to make everything snug and perfect.

P6140002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Shaping those shaft end pegs was more challenging than on the perfectly circular Klepper and Kober shafts; I made the shaft on the double blade Nashwaak oval for an indexed grip.

Eh, ok, truth be told, oddly ovalized on that too-long 293cm beast. When I rough out that shaft I managed to get the oval shaped in bass-akwards index orientation. And then had to re-shape an indexed oval at my hand positions. Not an example of my most thoughtful shop hours, though a good example of my expletive language skills.

The shaft is a bit whacky in cross section, right up to where I finally rounded everything off to fit the ferrules. With centered holes center drilled in the grips sanding and filing a matching peg on the slightly oval ends was a bit of an oblong challenge.

I not only marked the depth of the handle holes around the sides of the shaft for peg length, I centered a dime, a wee bit larger than the 5/8” hole in the handles, and traced that circle on the slightly oval shaft end, as a gage for where and how narrow to start making the peg with the sander and later finish with a file.

A lot of frou-frou delicate fitting work. Once done I marked the flushest fit in alignment, grip seated on shaft. It took some time, but I made those pear grips fit pretty dang well.

Some drip protective tape and some G/flex, grips aligned and epoxy plugged on the pegs.

P6150008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Let that epoxy cure overnight, then a bead of black pigmented G/flex, thickened with silica, to fill any slight gaps at the grip-to-shaft transition

With the bead of black, thickened G/flex applied all the way around there was a lot of babysitting needed, rotating the shafts 180 degrees every 5 minutes, so the epoxy was evenly distributed and not sagging away from any shaft-to-grip gap.

The easiest way I’ve found to accomplish that rotational babysitting is to stage the paddles with a sandbag weight on the shaft and continually give them a turn. And be serious about the “every 5 minutes” and “continually” parts; maybe every 3 minutes at first. Don’t get distracted writing some overly long post, time flies.

P6150010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Black epoxy bead set but not fully dry, pull the edge tapes.

P6160012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Not too shabby. The black plastic pear grips on cherry shaft look decent with the black carbon tow on the blade edges run all the way to the throat. Black shoes, black hat, cherry body.

P6160013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Both now 52” long, although almost half that length is blade. Both 1lb 10oz. Both semi-unique, except for a twin. In a quirk of fate the bass-akwards indexing is comfortable, and correctly oriented, for my bottom hand. Almost like it was meant to be.

Thus endeth, for now, cutting apart and adding grips to old double blades. Four useless doubles, now eight short but semi-useful singles*. I’ll keep a couple, will find new homes.

*Nine if you count the MacGrady Special

P5140003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

My grip fitting technique improved with each paddle and new challenge. I have a few tee grips left, and know where to order more asymmetrical palm grips. I’ll be keeping an eye out for used wood doubles in unusable long lengths.

Something like a no-ferrule 270cm/106”, cut in half at 53” plus a couple inches for a new grip at 55” - more if I break down and carve an elongated Guide grip – would make for cool and curious single sticks, even more so if historically logo-ed.

I kinda like the vintage Klepper and Kober stuff, and wonder who else made absurdly long wood doubles back in ‘70’s. I know I’ve seen but ignored others. Folbot maybe?
The Ainsworths (wasn't that the Deliverance destination) look and will function better being close to symmetrical in shape. Animal tail paddles always have palm/pear grips, so you made the historically correct and superior Canadian style paddling decision (palm rolling technique) by putting palm/pears on the Nashwaaks.
The Ainsworths (wasn't that the Deliverance destination) look and will function better being close to symmetrical in shape.

“Close to”? What you mean “close to” symmetrical? I think you mean “dang close to”

Watch what you say there fella; I’ve run out of paddle hanger space and think someone’s Granddaughter deserves, if not a custom Pathfinder, at least a custom kiddie-sized paddle as a consolation prize.

Animal tail paddles always have palm/pear grips, so you made the historically correct and superior Canadian style paddling decision (palm rolling technique) by putting palm/pears on the Nashwaaks.

My Rouses Point and Chazy relatives might take exception with “superior” and “Canadian” being used in the same sentence, unless the word “dang” is worked in. But I’ve had a lifetime to get over that discriminatory school of generational thought.

If you mean hull heeled over, in-water recovery graceful, BWAHHAHA!

You are not likely to see that slo-mo pinkie extended dance out of me; I look elegant enough going splish-splash on alternate sides. Ask anyone.

I did do some research. I would have preferred a symmetrical grip, didn’t feel the need for one-side orientation with those blades, although I do find those asym pears very hand comfortable. Not as comfortable as an indexed carbon double blade and 30 degree offset ferrule, but few things in life are.

I thought hard about carving a long Guide-style grip, if only to add some additional length to those paddles. But, as anticipated, I used what I had on hand, and even screwed up there a bit.

Those were the last of the Mohawk/Indian River $2.75 pear grips, and of course I went and used the best of them first, including plugged into the kiddie-sized Aisnworths.

“Best” meaning with the fewest visible mold lines and, more critically, the best job done drilling the peg hole dead center in the neck of the grip. If that peg hole is off-center so much as 1/16” everything is slightly off, and will require more custom shaft/peg shaping.

Lots of re-gripping lessons learned. Enough that I’m kinda jonsing to find another useless long double blade to convert.

The only thing I have left in the too long category is another 270 Klepper double. And a 60”, 2lb 4oz single beast that was once my father’s. That one is historic; a saved relict, sanded and re-varnished refurbished with some decorative blade graphics added.

And since used exactly once in a boat. I’ll never, ever have need of a 60” paddle, and it would be nice to bring it along occasionally semi-useful, shortened with a new grip. Hmmm, I could cut 6 inches off that monster, leaving a grip/shaft extension to drill & peg onto something too short.

Or I could build a display case for McCrea’s Museum of Paddle Oddities. Wonder which option dad would prefer?
Making & shaping your own handles really isn't that hard, or require exotic tools. I made my first two paddles following Cruiser's thread:

I did asymetric handles, and shaped them with a bandsaw and sandpaper. Used a broken 1 1/2" 60 grit belt to rough shape, then progressively got finer, up to 320 at the finish stage. I used 3 pieces of cherry, approximately 2" * 6" * 2". Took a total of about 2 hours per grip. Found a template for the "pear shape" on line, made my own side profile. Tested it first on a scrap of 2 by 4, to check for comfort/fit. The "test" grip took about an hour. I didn't make it perfect, just good enough to check for size & profile.

My bandsaw is fairly beefy, capable of 12" resaw. If you don't have a bandsaw, you could shape with other tools. It'd take a bit longer, and wear out belts/discs, but you could shape one entirely with a belt and/or disc & spindle sander combo.
Interesting thread. I keep an eye out for decent paddles and oars at tag sales. I have two old wooden Folbot paddles that might be converted into singles. I think I would try to scarf an extension onto half of a double paddle to produce a useful length. If I had a broken paddle that would provide the handle and shaft.