Paddles

Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
13
Location
VA
Few months back I redid my kitchen table in tung oil, looks great and has held up nicely. I have a couple of paddles that I would like to redo, should I use oil or varnish. These r factory made paddles of good quality, but I feel the roughness in the finish, wanna start over, just do not know the best way to do it, all help greatly appreciated. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about canoes and he stated to me that , where was I getting my info on some of the questions he asked. I told him about the site here and what great info is passed along. Just to let u know the info u place on here is being read and used. I for one have learned a great deal and thankful to you the info u provide. I really enjoyed the pictures u posted of your canoes
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,473
Location
Raymond, ME
Varnish protects better. Most professional custom paddle makers finish their paddles with marine spar varnish.. some four or five coats.. Finish it with 600 grit wet paper. I take off the varnish at the grip and also where I grab the shaft , but the latter is optional as that is often a wear point.

It is possible to oil the paddle and then apply varnish over the oil. If you go with oil only the waterproofing protective characteristics will deplete very quickly

Rob Stevens wrote an article for WCHA. He is a fine paddle maker

http://www.wcha.org/build_restore/paddles/stevens_paddle.html
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,291
Location
Warren, Manitoba
I think it comes down to personal preference. For a new paddle I sand off the factory varnish and then modify it to suit, I fish, so I use a Sharpie to add a tape measure to the shaft, including the "slot limits" we have here, then refinish with Epifanes Marine Varnish. I use the Epifanes on the boats I rebuild. Every Spring I sand and re-coat as needed, since over a season it gets dings and scratches which allow water to penetrate.
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2012
Messages
1,189
Location
Alburnett Iowa
I'm no expert, and my paddles are tools to me like my hatchet and saw. With this mindset I maintain them as such to give me good service. In other words, I'll put no more work into them then necessary to keep them up and preserve them. Others may have a different mindset and want to put more effort in. That's good too as we all need something to do in the winter when we can't paddle.
When they need it, I touch up my store bought Bending branches paddles with Minwax spray can poly urethane. I assume poly urethane is what my paddle was finished with from the factory and it's tough stuff. I sand them a little in the area needing repair and shoot a few light coats on letting it dry a while between coats. If you pile it on it takes forever to dry.

If I had a fancy shmancy paddle with a oil finish I would re-oil it and call it good. Oil finishes are nice and some prefer the feel of them in their hand.
 
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Mihun, that's a great idea to mark slot limits in your paddle shaft. But...you're either a champion fisher, hauling giant lunkers over the gunnel to measure, or you're optimistically planning on hooking Moby; that's a seriously long looking measure on your paddle shaft! Ha! I love the idea though, and will adopt it this winter. Thanks.
I've sanded and sprayed our paddle blades with poly, just as Rippy describes, and found them to last quite well. I like the slippery surface of my palm grip, but might lightly rough up where I grip the shaft.
This is a good question Bluegrass, as one would wonder if paddle use might be similar to axe handle use: varnish vs oil.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,473
Location
Raymond, ME
Factory made paddles often have glassed blades! Oil won't penetrate that. Check and see if you see a criss cross pattern. Fine paddles are often glassed too with a very fine fiberglass mesh. My schmancy fancy paddles are almost all glassed except for Gil Gilpatricks paddle which is woodburned.

Advice is for a laminate paddle. Solid woods usually are not glassed.

Never pile on anything; true. Five thin coats.. Not one glob. Poly urethane is not all alike; marine is the best. I can go four or five years before retouching.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,692
Location
Appleton, Maine
YC said: "I take off the varnish at the grip and also where I grab the shaft"

Me too, I don't sand it all off at the shaft, but enough to rough it up, I have nothing on the grip except bare wood and it appears my oldest favorite paddle will outlast me this way. I use a beavertail paddle exclusively and don't mind saying I use it to shove off alot, rocks, sand, mud, annoying beaver dams, doesn't bother me in the least and the paddle keeps on keeping on, a little wear on the tip but mine has a fat enough tip to hold up ok, just touch it up with a light sanding and some spar varnish when needed. I wouldn't do it with a fancy schmamcy though, but then, I never owned one.

 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,291
Location
Warren, Manitoba
I have hordes of canoes, I have one paddle. I wear gloves when paddling, the type made for cycling with no fingers, so varnish or oil doesn't really matter. I consider $80 for a paddle to be on the high end of what I will spend and I want to get 10 years out of it at that price. We primarily have 2 otter tails we use with a carbon fibre paddle we Found, as the spare, which Christine will go to when she needs less weight. I do occasionally do wood burning on blades too, or paint a scene on them, but not the laminated ones. They are now more decoration than used.

Brad:

Angling is one of the main reasons we go canoeing and out here, the slot limit is primarily for pickerel. Maximum of 4 kept in the areas we fish and anything between 17 3/4 and 27 5/8 inches must be released. Having the measure on the shaft means not having to take (lose) a tape measure. Christine has boated large pike, up towards 20 pounds, which is why the measure on the paddle is 4 feet.
Sand down to wood where you want the markings to be, lay it out using a tape measure in pencil, come back with a fine sharpie, then finish carefully with a bunch of coats of marine varnish.

Karin
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,472
There are many who still only oil their paddles. However, those are one piece paddles. If you start laminating with glues, you will need better protection. I go a step further than varnish. I put two or three coats of system three clear coat epoxy on my paddles first, then three coats of varnish. I never bother sanding off the grips or shafts, my hands do that work for me.
 
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Mihun, the slot limits are about the same for where I intend to try my luck. I'll only catch and keep pickerel (if I'm lucky), and am not a big fan of trout. Sacrilege to some I know, but there ya go. I suspected your measure on your paddle might be for Muskies; though pike get massive up there too, "wolves with fins." I wasn't trying to poke fun at your practical methods, just trying some harmless humour. Sorry if goofed. I'm gonna mark my paddle shaft in anticipation of spring/summer trip.
Thanks for the advice.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,291
Location
Warren, Manitoba
See now, words are funny things, I am not offended at all and never was. No Muskie in Manitoba that I am aware of, other than possibly the one part of Lake of the Woods that pokes into the province. Trout I have no care for. Yellow Perch are better eating than Pickerel though.

Like Robin, I too use my paddle as a push pole, rock sticker, fish whacker on occasion, whatever needs to be done. My paddle has a huge ugly epoxy tip on it which I feel makes the blade more likely to break, but most commercially available ones now have that. BTW, carbon fibre paddles do not make good wind breaks for white gas stoves.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
704
Location
Western Adirondacks
A friend who makes paddles for a living always finishes his paddles with mixed 90/10% varnish/oil on the blade, and the opposite 10/90% varnish/oil on the shaft and grip. Whenever it needs a touch up I do the same. Seems to work well, I like the feel of an oiled shaft and grip better than ultra smooth hard varnish, and the higher percentage of hard varnish better protects the blade from water and dings.
 
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The best,most duable,tough and waterproof wood coating,in my opinion,is permlym gunstock finish. I now use nothing else on the longrifles I build. I have carryed them on endless rain.snowey days with total imperviousness. I have finished several paddles with total satisfiction,BUT,it's expensive and only avalible in small containers.
Turtle
 
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