bare paddle grip?

Looking at the Wapasha website, their canoe paddles have bare wood on the grip. Since the choices are between bare (eventually rough, and possibly swollen with water) and finished (slick and smooth), I’m guessing that a bare grip provides a “grippier” surface for either a gloved or un-gloved hand.

Wouldn’t splinters be a possible issue? Wouldn’t eventual warping, splitting, and bulging of the handle destroy the paddle?

Bare Grip Usually Means Oiled
Usually the top grip comes bare or unfinished, but I have to remove the finish or varnish from the bottom grip area by sanding it in order to oil both top and bottom grips at the same time. Common household high flashpoint avocado oil from the kitchen works fine for me. I don’t use linseed oil because of its reputation for spontaneous combustion.

For me, it’s basically a kinesthetic thing, for I like to paddle barehanded.

No, the wood is not going to do that
unless the paddle was neglected, stored in a very damp place and never oiled.

The most common everyday lumber you see is fast growing pine, which is relatively lightweight and brittle compared to the kinds of wood used in fine woodworking where they use much slower growing trees (like these cedar paddles) which have much denser, heavier, and tough wood full of resin, which lasts a lot longer and is stronger. We have some scrap wood from our barn (we tore apart and then re- arranged the barn’s interior, using the same wood, years ago) and it is absolutely incredible when you cut it, because the wood, which is now roughly a century old, is so fragrant, so heavy, and so STRONG. I am just not quite sure what the original builders used, because redwood is not actually a good lumber tree, too brittle, but it has to be something out of the pine/fir family because of the scent, and it had to be old growth and harvested at higher elevation or farther north, because it must have grown very slowly. We don’t ever throw any any little scraps of this incredible wood.

This stuff is as heavy as pressure treated lumber, but it will still be around when the pressure treated has given up the ghost. There is a door made out of it that has a handhold cut into it to open and shut the door, and it has self-polished and never splintered.

Seven years ago I bought a nice kitchen cutting board from a woodworker at the fair who told me what kinds of hard wood he used, how they were legal to harvest, what countries the wood came from, (sorry, forgot …) and how he made the board. Still have it, still looks good, still use it at least once a day, wash it daily, no splinters. He knew his stuff. So I wouldn’t worry about the paddle.

Your hand oils
will oil the grip in time. If I get a varnished grip the first thing I do is remove the varnish and oil it several times to start it off.

To me an oiled grip feels nicer than a varnished one.

Splinters? no… I have some four dozen paddles and some of them are older than 70.

Some like oil,
some like varnish. Hard to argue one is better than the other. I like oil.

Most shafts/grips are sanded as much
as a baseball bat.

I sand all the finish off the grips of my paddles and linseed oil them. With use they get real smooth with no splinters. Most users of wooden handled tools traditionally had no finish where their hands gripped believing finish causes blisters. I agree.


Not One Bear Paddle Joke