about glassing a canoe paddle .......

-- Last Updated: Jan-20-10 11:12 AM EST --

....... at one time I thought it a very funny thing to do , glass/epoxy a wooden canoe paddle ... nough said ,

but now I have a mind to do this to a paddle I purchased just for that purpose .

This paddle is an old fashioned 60" (59-1/2") beavertail that was thick . The blade "was" 7" x 27" and now measures 6-3/4" x 25-1/2" (the meat came off the grip end of the blade not the tip) , and the blade itself has been thinned out to the point were it's ready for glass and epoxy coating .

It was the picture of the paddle that caused me to choose it . It looked completely weathered out , similar to driftwood , and the owner said it was extremely lightweight .

After re-shaping and sanding it down , I believe it's "doug fir" ?? Everything about it says doug fir to me ... except for the extremely light weight , but I guess that's possible if a piece of doug fir gets weathered and dried out enough ??

So my question is ... how about 3.16 oz. S Glass , is that too heavy for a paddle .

At first I had thought 2 oz. E Glass , but I'm not sure .

I had thought about just starting with 3/4 oz. S Glass and just building another layer or two of that as I went along .

I might split the shaft down the middle (from the top grip a ways into the blade) , removing 5/16" , and inserting a hardwood there for extra stiffness) .

You can save weight if you don’t do the
whole blade. Now, on the glass issue, as fond as I am of S-glass, it usually will not wet out clear. If you want a clear wood appearance, use E-glass. E-glass has been plenty strong when I have used it to face paddles. Maybe that 2 oz E-glass will be sufficient.

If just glass the lower part of each side of the blade, cut the cloth in an arc, and see that the arcs do not coincide. Once long ago, in a fit of stupidity, I glassed a Clement straight across on both sides, and when I caught a rock while surfing, the blade broke cleanly across, right at the FG line. So you want to avoid any straight line stress zones.

Marc Ornstein glasses his
beautiful wood paddles.

I think he is away but you might try his email. I do believe its 2 oz E glass. You can barely see the texture.

DogPaddle Canoe Works.

Old School Beavertail

– Last Updated: Jan-20-10 4:30 PM EST –

My experience with old school beavertails and Doug fir. Doug fir is strong wood for its weight, but brittle wood prone to splits which would happen in the end of the blade and delamination of growth rings (especially at the outer edge of a rounded shaft where flatsawn growth rings become very narrow. Old School beavertails generally had round shafts and the round shaft (as opposed to oval), one piece of wood (as opposed to laminated, and longer overall length; all contributed to a certain noticeable springyness when using the paddle. When pushed to the max an old school beavertail almost always snapped at the throat. I think some of this is a circumstance of transitioning a
1 1/8" round shaft to the blade, kind of making a weakness in this area if the maker took it down too thin. Today's modern oval laminated shafts 1 1/4 x 1 1/8 are beefier and stronger shafts and will make a stronger transition area to a beavertail blade. You have indicated you've slimmed down the wood in this paddle in this area. That might mean you don't want to get into a race using it or risk breaking it at the throat. It could also mean your paddle is now even more springy. I think I wouldn't spend any money glassing it until you try the paddle. If you like how it handles, let it dry thoroughly and then I think you need to put a resin tip on the paddle, and glass from the tip to the beginning of the wide part of the blade on both sides. 3oz would be fine. Take a long look at that throat. If you've really shaved it down, I think you need to glass that whole transition area between full thickness of the shaft to where the blade widens out. As always just my $.02

I thought it was 4oz? n/m

Yeah, don’t use S glass and
use a slow hardener like WS 207 if you want the best finish.

yepper, that’s my paddle just as you

– Last Updated: Jan-20-10 10:27 PM EST –

...... described , both before and after .

there wasn't any delame of the growth ring remnants though . It does have a fine crack originating at the blade tip into the blade about 6" , but when bowing the blade width wise (now after thinning) , this fine crack does not go all the way through yet ... only reveals itself on one side (and it will be reglued before glassing) .

The shaft has a rather long (8") diagonal crack originating from just above the lower grip (throat) area . Although you can't find it by sliding the shaft through your hand (also nearly invisable to the eye) , if you spring the shaft enough it will reveal itself . It will be reglued (epoxy) . After the shaft has been reglued , I probably will add the hardwood piece down the middle of the shaft into the blade area aways .

I was figuring on glassing all the blade and up the shaft to just above the lower grip area .

And yes , I thinned out that massive throat area as well as shortened it by 1-1/2" . It still begins at full shaft diameter , just a faster transition , both to the blade face and the sides of blade .

Don't want to get it wet until it's finished ... I don't think it will be a paddle I could use for powering either , (test paddles with it may prove otherwise) , although I suspect you are correct .

In general I have a fondness for some flex and spring in a beavertail paddle (just not to the point of breaking) .

that break you described g2d …
… that must have been a surprise and had you looking at what was left with a funny grin on your face , lol .

kanoo, so what I’m understanding …

– Last Updated: Jan-20-10 11:07 PM EST –

...... from you and g2d , is that S glass won't be as clear (translucent) as E glass (regardless which resin is used) .

It will still wet out very good though , correct .

I kinda like the idea of a less translucent/transparent (more opaque) apearence .

My thoughts are to use a penetrating stain on the bare wood of the paddle (cherry I think) , and lightly tint the resin mix (a red perhaps) ... and over finish with multiple coats of lacquer (except top grip) that might get oiled (probably) .

I think “slow” is best also … thanks

Yeah, I had to laugh. But I fixed it.
I peeled off all the glass from the lower part of the blade. Then using a horizontal belt sander, I tapered both the upper and lower part of the blade to make a 2.5" scarf joint. Using a simple jig and some pins, I epoxied the parts of the blade together. Finally, after a bunch of sanding, I re-applied glass, making sure that the glass margins were arced and did not coincide from one face to another.

The result is a blade that is very strong but flexes enough that it has time to bounce off rocks.

you could
give it to me and let me paint eagles and nature scenes on it. then we can hang it. it would be a great collaborative effort in art.

I think you should be paddled for …
… saying that !!

the paddle …

– Last Updated: Jan-30-10 1:01 PM EST –

...... after thinning out and reshaping the blade (nice blade) , and sanding out the shaft , I figured it's time to take that 8" crack and open it up (run it out) until the shaft seperated into two pieces .

Used shims to keep the crack expanding until it finally ran out , spliting the upper grip (flat wise) . Found two more smaller cracks , one in each half shaft and seperated those out .

Epoxied all the pieces back together and that went well , but didn't like the amount of twist in the shaft ... so what to do ??

Decided to replace the old Doug fir shaft and hand picked a piece of Cherry for that . A nice med. dense piece with tight quarter grain . The piece was there just waiting for me to claim it , it was 2" x 1-1/2" x 46" ... $ 5.

Now we are on our way to a nice new 1-1/4" x 1-1/16" modern "oval" shaft just like Duluth Moose said was better .

Since I had a ply jig already made up to hold the paddle secure for running it through the table saw (just a pice of 1/2" ply with 1" x 1" blocks epoxied to it outlining the paddle and shaft ... it was going to be used to remove that 5/16" section out of the center of the shaft after regluing) , I figured the same jig could be used to cut into the blade 12" removing 1-1/16" right down the center .

I cut the jig and shaft in half so just about 8" of shaft was left up from the blade .

All worked well (squaring off the cut at it's end in the blade wasn't too bad with cope saw and file) .

Tooled the new shaft stock to the req. 1-1/4' x 1-1/16" ... perfect fit , good !! Played around with the idea of making it a bent shaft by positioning the blade on an angle to the shaft , but nah ... I'll try somebody elses bent shaft out one day to see if I like them .

Was a good fit shaft to blade , could hold the shaft out horizontal with the blade at any angle and look at it without it slipping ... nah , an angle between shaft and blade looks funny to me .

Used the upper part of the jig to hold the top grip and took the same 1-1/16" out it's center , leaving the side profile of the original grip to be attached to the new shaft sides .

Glued (epoxied) it all up making sure to keep it all centered . Laid out a 3/8" center down all sides of shaft and began the removal of the corners to the lay out lines . Then ovaled it out to center of each shaft side ... Turned out to be beautiful straight as an arrow shaft . Transitioning to the blade and top grip worked just as it should have .

This whole paddle is still very light and the shaft is strong !! Almost time to stain , glass , laquar and oil the top grip .

I'm thinking I can use the glass/epoxy on the blade to form a nice durable blade tip instead of making a urethane tip guard on it ??

All epoxy seams look just as they should , hairline only ... I use 5 minute epoxy (for gluing) because I love the stuff and trust it (have never experience a failure with railing and stair work or any thing else) , and I don't have to wait long keep moving after glue up .

Chip offered me a piece of 2 oz. E glass from his stock , but I really do want to try some of that S glass , and I'm thinking to build 2-3 layers of 3/4 oz. ??

I know you have told me it won't wet out as clear (even with extra clear grade epoxy) ... but are there any other concerns about using the layered S glass on a blade like I'm thinking about ??

I have no need to bring the glass up the shaft a ways now , so where should I stop it ... I'm thinking right at the "top" of the throat transition to shaft ??

ya see it's like this , I can do all kinda stuff to wood , shape it , fit it , whatever ... but I've never glassed a paddle blade before (plenty of experience with glass and ester or epoxy lay up , but much heavier stuff (boats) .

Doing 2-3 layers of 3/4 oz S glass is
risking a stiffer and heavier result than using the 2 oz E glass. And it won’t look as good either.

On occasion I have put more than one layer of glass on a paddle face, but that was because I needed some local reinforcement or to avoid a local stress concentration. I don’t think any of the paddle builders use more than a layer of glass in an application similar to yours.

I won’t rehash what’s been said.
I cover most of my FS blades from tip to transition with 4 oz. e glass and West Epoxy with 207 hardener. On paddles that may receive tougher use I apply a second layer in the area of the tip. Paddles intended for shallow rocky streams get 6 oz. with a double layer on the tip.

I vacuum bag the blades when I apply the glass which reduces the resin content and weight a bit. It also compresses the cloth against the wood,reducing the need for as much epoxy to fill the weave of the cloth, further reducing the weight and increasing the strength of the laminate.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

Beavertail tip
A beavertail blade has one of the more rounded tips you find in blades. Any contact with a solid object focuses that impact on a very small part of the perimeter of that blade tip, whereas the impact tends to be spread / shared across the edge of a squared off tip. Should that beavertail blade be (ab)used for bracing to the bottom on a rocky shoreline for entering and exiting at landings, I would still suggest a resin tip is best, to beef it up and to protect that edge wood.

But don’t get peoples’ hopes too high.
I ordered a phenolic resin tip on a square ended Clinch River paddle. The “resin” is actually a composite similar to circuit board material. I wanted to save a little weight over that of an aluminum tip.

The phenolic resin tip hasn’t broken anywhere in whitewater use, but has worn down too much. The aluminum tips in my other Clinch River and in my Mitchell have stood up much better to wear.

Aluminum tips can be tricky. Bailey Johnson of Clinch River told me that, in spite of special preparation, occasionally an aluminum tip would come loose, while the phenolic “circuit board” tips never come loose. But usually, aluminum stays in place and wears better. (OK, if you don’t like the look of aluminum, get some gold-anodized tips made.)

ok , I’m with you all …
… I just have to make my mind up now .

Thanks for all the aid and advise . I’ll let ya know what my final choices were as soon as I know … will probably be E glass and tip protection both , thanks again .

Aluminum tips
Yeah, aluminum tips can be very tricky. I once asked the Gougeon Bros. about problems with trying to get aluminum tips to last better and they said aluminum was one of the materials epoxy really didn’t like to bond to… but maybe the G-Flex and newer formulations might be better for this.