Canoe paddle handles

Can anyone tell me why some canoe paddles have a unvarnished handle at the top?

Less Likely…
…to cause blisters.

Yup, Blisters

– Last Updated: Jun-28-07 10:21 PM EST –

Wet Hands + Varnish = Blisters

Ah' usually sand de varnish off on de shaft waar me lower hand be too.


Don’t forget
to oil the grip with tung oil, boiled linseed or whatever spins your motor. But not motor oil.

Anyone tried virgin olive oil?


You bet ya :^) Good stuff! Extra!



Un-varnised paddle grips
Lots of people claim that varnished paddle grips cause blisters. I’ve heard this for years… and I’ve read this for years. Nonsense says I! I use several different paddles, some oiled, some varnished. I have certainly never had any blisters from a varnished paddle grip. I’d say that one is firmly in the “river myth” category! Of course I’m a “workin’ guy” with plenty of calluses, maybe my hands ain’t so dainty as some! (LOL)

That being said I personally find oiled grips to be more comfortable to handle than varnished grips and I like the feel of oiled grips.

In the end the main reason some paddle carvers don’t varnish grips is simply because it’s far easier to NOT varnish the grip – gives a handy-dandy place to hang the paddle while the varnish dries. When I carve a paddle I oil the grips – it’s a no-brainer – it’s easier. - Randall

I’ve never gotten blisters
with any of my paddles, some of which have varnished handles, but most of which don’t.

I find the oiled handles to be more comfortable. They slide better in hot sun (varnish tends to get slightly tacky), and I have better grip when the handle gets wet (varnish tackiness disappears in a rain storm!). Slightly easier manitenance, IMHO.


Ok, how about this arse-extracted theory

– Last Updated: Jun-29-07 1:45 PM EST –

Perhaps varnished grips are simply lousy at creating the calluses necessary to prevent blisters. And, that is why varnished grips have a reputation for “causing” blisters???

But, I couldn't know this for myself. I too have enough thick skin to make any difference inconsequential.

Paddle for fifty years,
and I guarantee you’ll never get a blister!



Does the olive oil on the grip
attract porcupines? Or raccoons?


I don’t know anything about blisters either. Does NRS or REI sell them?

Yer be surprised

– Last Updated: Jun-29-07 5:35 PM EST –

how many folks git blisters on varnished paddle grips. Ah' hear de moanin' an' groanin' all de time. Some beginners have girlie-hands as Arnold would say. So ah' tell dem ta sand.


reckon that would be bacon grease, or bear fat.

why not oil the shaft also?

– Last Updated: Jun-30-07 8:24 AM EST –

If it gives a better grip or control, why not oil the shaft also?

shaft too?
The very best paddles, say Quimby paddles, have a masked off, unvarnished, shaft section too.

varnished grips/shafts have to be…

– Last Updated: Jun-30-07 9:35 AM EST –

held slightly tighter, IMHO, to maintain a grip because of the surface's it seems to me, as opposed to treated wood...and the surface is harder(as in rock)...especially when wet from a little water being splashed on it. If the shaft size isn't the most comfortable with your thumb/index-finger size...can rub the wrong way = pain. Try that for a few thousand strokes in a day. You're going to be taking quite a few at every 300ft or so, much like the newbie amateur marathon runner who only sprints, BUT if you like torture & being a macho-man in the eyes of the rest of the family, at the expense of tight, strained all means.....but they're much like new skiboots(if anyone here skis), built to market is #1 goal. There is no single comfort design, that is if manufacturer wants to sell more than a few... *I don't think there is really a single definitive answer, just see what works for you.
just my $.01...but what exchange-rate my $.01 equals...???

I’ll admit to blisters…
Both times I was on extended canoe trips in Saskatchewan, and both times the blisters were on my hand positioned on the shaft, not the grip. It was a varnished shaft, oiled grip, so maybe there is something to the oiled grip reducing bisters. I googled Craig Quimby and found barely anything. also came across the name of Eric Schooley from FL. Anybody have a link to more info on their paddles. I can’t afford one, but would like to read about them. I did find a good summary article on paddles, FYI.

under the google-dar
Lolk paddles are another that I have heard amazing things about. They too are hard to Google. There is a thread over at that has some info.

Timely Thread
I was out paddling on Saturday and doing some sit and switch sprinting using a < 1 year old Foxworx Guide bentshaft paddle. This has become my favorite paddle and is a cut above my Grey Owls and Bending Branches paddles. The handle is particularly nice and a great fit for my hands.

The thing I did notice though during the sprints was that the paddle was sure slipping around on me. Sanding and oiling the handle and shaft are on the to do list for this week.

I like them smooth
My ZRE paddle handles and shafts are as smooth as a babys butt, and I like them that way.