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

Usually the procedure is to use acid
to prepare the aluminum. But I haven’t had occasion to try it. G-flex forms a better bond, and is more flexible, so an aluminum tip is less likely to come loose just from being struck hard on a rock. But one can’t do the whole layup with G-flex, so it adds a step.

the tip guard protection …

– Last Updated: Feb-01-10 4:08 PM EST –

...... what about laminating thin strips of a hardwood around curve of the tip (maybe a 1/16" thicker each side of faces to start out) , building them up to say about a 1/2" total extra paddle length , then just shaping down to tip faces ... before glass/epoxy facing .

Doing something like that would "slightly" (but not much) alter the tips curve shape when finally shaped down ... I think .

I could still let the glass and expoxy on each face run out over the edges of blade perimeter , make a little batch of thickened w/silica to build up thickness of that overlap ... then tool down to final edge shape , letting the resin edge protection be the glass and thickened epoxy maybe a 1/4" long around tip curve becoming less as the curve meets the blade side edges .

I was also thinking about building up a plastic laminate like a Formica in place of the built up wood strips , but I think wood might be better .

I really don't want to remove the existing tip curve (flat cut across blade width) , and add a new piece of hardwood (grain running perpendicular to blade grain) or plastic , and spline them together (of course shape down to new tip afterwards) ... don't really want to do that .

How do you all go about building the tip guard protection ??

Here is a Way

– Last Updated: Feb-01-10 6:20 PM EST –

This is how I do a tip protector using West Systems epoxy, a readily available and easy to use material. There are other resins out there and I'm sure there are many other ways to do the job. Sorry about the pushy pop ups on Webshots.... See bottom of page 2 and top of page 3 and scroll down on each photo you enlarge to read captions. West Systems needs to be pretty darn near 1/4" thick on the tip edge or it will crack or chip too easily.

nice looking work there Duluth …
… neat paddles !!

Tips look very well protected and strong too . Nice photo series , shows how to very well , thanks for sharing .

I am wanting to bring the very tip and edges of my blade thinner than a 1/4" , more knife edged with about an 1/8" final at tip curve perimeter ??


Best Wishes


I first glass the faces, leaving some
extra glass extending beyond the sides and bottom of the paddle. Then I clean the slot between the glass extensions to remove amine blush. Finally I put a mix of glass and Kevlar strands into the slot, using various tricks to keep them in place. Then I mix more West 105/205 and wet out the strands in the slot, coaxing them to sit down close to the blade edge. I hope to try West G-flex for this procedure because it should be a little less inclined to crack.

I’ve done this only for paddles I use on flattish water, not for paddles used in serious whitewater. But these tips stand up pretty well, and they are fairly narrow.

Whitewater paddles I have tipped with aluminum extrusions.

tip update …

– Last Updated: Feb-02-10 3:00 PM EST –

...... cut off the end of the paddle (almost all the tip curve) .

The removed tip end was 1-5/8"(L) x 6"(W) , the blade is 7/32" at it's thickest there .

Cut a piece of Ipe to 5/16" x 1-3/4" x 7" and rough cut the tip curve on it ... it is now epoxied and joined to the blade with the grain running perpendicular to the original blade grain .

If this join can stand up to the tooling and shaping down of the final tip profile , it should stick well there forever , especially after the glass/epoxy facing is completed .

The big question now , is will the join seperate or stay fast during final tooling and shaping ... let ya know as soon as I know ??

Ipe is one of the hardest woods out there , not quite like Ebony but close .

the Ipe tip stayed stuck tight …
… took all the pressures of shaping down … looks good .

I have another question please …
… my intention is to stain this paddle before glass/epoxy facing .

Does anyone know if there is going to be any problem with the glass/epoxy adhesion because of the stain ??

Use a water based dye
Do not use any sort of oil based stain. The oils may affect the bond of the epoxy.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes.

thanks Marc , I could use …

– Last Updated: Feb-03-10 1:41 PM EST –

...... an aniline powder dye then , water soluble .

(I'll be using WD Lockwood , #12 Cherry & #29 mixed 50/50)

I suppose an alcohol soluble could be used as well , but I like the water color better I think .

The grain will raise some , that may be an advantage for the epoxy/glass bond .

ps., ... I'll have to use a plain (or distilled) water wipe , let dry , and x-fine sand out (a couple times) on the shaft to take care of the grain raising situation there ... then the aniline dye solution application ... cause the shaft will only get a lacquer or varnish coats and I'll want it smooth .

You’ve got it
That’s how I’d go about it. Water or alc. either is fine.

I’d lightly sand the raised grain even where the glass is going. It’s probably not necessary but…

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

the final finish is being applied now …

– Last Updated: Feb-18-10 4:15 PM EST –

...... I decided to use the Minwax spar urethane .
The first few coats of spar are being applied in a cut coat (1/3 mineral spirits) . This greatly helps the wood (shaft & top grip) absorb deeper . The cut coats runs like water on the epoxy & cloth coated blade , easy to pull down any runs and levels glass smooth . After about three 1/3 cut coats I'll change over to 1/10 cut and apply at least 2 more .

The aniline (powder) water soluble dye has been a fantastic choice to use on this paddle , thanks again Marc for the encouragement .

I decided to use a single cloth layer of 2 oz. E.glass over the blade faces right up to the shaft throat (this particular 2 oz. was a very tight weave and fill but not a problem at all during wet out) . My method was to wet out the bare wood with brush and sqeegie , wet out the cloth pattern seperately on a piece of formica and then lay into the wetted blade face , brush and squeegy off the excess to keep the cloth from floating up . The result was that the cloth print just barely showed .

Also wetting out the wood first allows the epoxy to soak into the wood well , and wetting the cloth seperately gets it wet out very easy ... this method greatly keeps the wood and cloth from competing for the epoxy at the same time and assures a greater bond to the wood .

Also if you heat up the wood till it's warm to the touch , then do the epoxy wet outs , as the wood begins to cool it will draw in the epoxy . This does two things , the warm wood has a thinnig effect on the epoxy , and the wood draws gases inwards as it cools which is a good thing because the opposite of outgassing occures (which would put bubbles in your epoxy coating) .

After the epoxy (105/207) was not tacky any longer (about 1+ hr.) I did 2 fill coats using brush and squeegy waiting about 2 hrs. between each . The final epoxy coat was laid a couple hrs. later with foam roller for build to have something to sand out . This method allows for the chemical bond as opposed to letting the epoxy cure and then sand and recoat which would be a mechanical bond in that case . (note : there is absolutely "no" amine blush to deal with using the 207 hardner)

I cut the cloth from the perimeter with a razor knife blade just as the final coat was stiff gelled but tacky (cut like butter) .

I choose not to oil the grip but stain and urethane .

When sanding the blade faces I used 80g on a random orbit (carefully) to rough in , then 80g by hand until no gloss spots were left (this did the rough in) ... from there I stepped it down by hand with 220g and 320g papers . Occassionally I would just start to find the cloth while hand sanding , this told me that I have removed as much excess epoxy weight as possible .

I did the sanding about 24 hrs. after the final epoxy coat . By doing so at that time the epoxy is sandable (hard enough) but not fully cured which is much harder , this makes the sanding much easier than waiting 3-4 days (any time you sand not fully cured epoxy you should take extra precautions to protect your breathing any of the dust and vapors) .

It's amazing how much epoxy can still be removed even after doing the lay up as thin as possible !!

The blades perimeter edges are very fine , thin and hard . I decided to sand off the overlapping glass at perimeter edges , but stiil not cutting through the epoxy barrier . With the stain it was easy to determine just when to stop sanding . The cloth was gone but the epoxy barrier still intact . If I sanded deeper I could tell I was touching the stain because it's red color would begin to mix in with the epoxy dust , so I avoided that and the result was a finely faired rounder edge . I chose not to lay another expoxy coat over that faired edge and sand fair again (too lazy) , besides the edges soaked up enough epoxy all ready I think , they are hard .

All in all I feel that epoxy and glassing a blade is a fine thing . It certainly makes the thinned blade areas much much stronger and more durable . I'm very happy I chose to go to trouble of adding an Ipe wood tip (can't say enough about that Ipe) .

I'm happy I decided to build a new Cherry shaft to replace the old Doug fir one , I only wish I had not split out and reglued up the old shaft first (waste of time although it came out nice it was still a weak shaft) .

I think it's a fine thing to do to an old style beavertail ... make a new paddle out of it but keep some of it's former glory still alive and useful .

This is one beautiful paddle as it stands , I think . I highly recommend staining with the water soluble aniline dyes , incredable control over color deepness and beautiful rich color also . You can wipe more on any time you wish before final finishes start , doing so acts like a toner (note : do not use a water base final finish directly over the water soluble dye to avoid reactivating the dye blend you've accomplished) .

Thanks again to all who offered advise and help on this little experiment . i now have glassed my first paddle ... by the way , it's a lot of extra work , at least as much as re-making making the paddle (wood working part), I think .

I couldn’t have described the process
any better myself. My process is quite similar with one notable exception. I apply the glass layer using a vacuum bag. The process increases the glass to resin ratio slightly, and compresses the cloth, reducing slightly the amount of fill resin needed. Unless one is already set up for vacuum bagging and has the necessary supplies (peel ply, absorbent breather material etc. it certainly doesn’t pay for an occasional paddle. Congratulation on what sounds like a job well done.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes