"Filler" for wooden paddle?

Picked up a used canoe paddle from craigslist, and it’s in excellent shape. However, the previous owner carved his initials in the shaft right at the base of the palm grip.

The carving is too deep to sand/scrape away, and it appears to be darkened (marker, maybe burning?). Is there some type of filler I could use that would make this less noticeable?

Epoxy mixed with sawdust…

– Last Updated: Jul-29-16 6:31 AM EST –

Pygmy sells wood flour @ $4/qt.


Or make your own epoxy paste
I have used sawdust from my shop and mixed it with epoxy until I have a paste and used that as a wood filler many times.

Jack L

Thanks - is there an effective way to stain or color the paste? Mix some stain with the sawdust first, or will that affect the epoxy?

will it hold up?
Thanks - do you think wax will hold up over time? Do you know if it can be colored with food coloring or is there something else to use with wax?

other options
Thanks for the replies so far.

Another option I am considering would be carving the initials into some other shape or pattern. I’d probably still fill it with something to create a smooth surface.

A third option would be chiseling out a shallow section where the initials are and gluing in a thin patch of wood. I’m not sure how much that might weaken the handle, though.

Of course, I could just leave it alone, but I think it will bug me.

My 2 cents worth…
If I were you; I wouldn’t do any more carving, or any chiseling on the area in question. It might weaken that area of the shaft.

I’d use epoxy as carving filler, sand it smooth, and then put a couple of wraps of reflective tape over the repaired area and completely around the paddle shaft. The repair work would be out of sight/out of mind; the tape would make the paddle more visible, wherever it is. Also IDs the paddle as yours.


Use a water based stain.
The sawdust will darken by itself when mixed with epoxy, test a sample first.

I would just leave it as is.
I have a canoe paddle I bought at a yard sale at least 10 years ago that had $2.00 written on it with a sharpie. It is still there. LOL

I probably should just leave it alone, or fill it and tape over it. I thought it might be a fun winter project, though.

A related question: If I do something to “fix” it which will require sanding, then I’ll likely need to refinish the shaft and grip. Would it be a good idea to leave the blade varnished, and then use oil on the shaft and grip, or would that look weird? Is tung oil or linseed oil preferred?

I have marked some of my paddles
using pin striping tape for autos. Lots of colors and patterns.

For a winter project…
I would just loudly complain about it to everyone I knew… and see what pops up under the xmas tree…

not in my house …
My SO didn’t understand why I wanted another paddle in the first place! :slight_smile:

Winter Project
It sounds like a great winter project !

But what I would do (if I wasn’t paddling in the Florida Keys and Everglades all winter long) would be after I “fixed it” I would sand the entire paddle down to bare wood, stain it and then give it the required amount of gloss polyurethane coats to have a beautiful paddle

Jack L

I dont know?
It would have be a paddle of very high quality, before I went to the trouble of sanding, staining, and putting on a gloss finish.

What company made the paddle???


I just said that because
the OP thought working on it during the winter might be a good project, and if he is going that far why not go all the way ?

Jack L

It’s my most expensive paddle, but most people would consider it mid-range … it’s a Bending Branches Espresso Plus.

cosmetic repair of paddle
A guideline I’ve used on wooden paddles and boats when there is a cosmetic problem is to “make the deficit into a feature” and then it disappears.

While making Aleutian paddles with a friend, he carved too deep at a station, making a hollow. We filled the spot with a mix of wood shavings and epoxy and after the epoxy cured, sanded the spot flush. The epoxy/shavings fill was strong, but an unattractive blotch in the straight grain of the paddle wood. To turn this “deficit” into a “feature” we downloaded a stencil of a loon from internet, altered the size to fit and he painted a loon on his paddle. The loon covered the shavings/epoxy fill (deficit) and is quite attractive (feature).

Brainstorm how you could do this with your paddle!


I like it
Good idea … Less work and less “damage” than any type of inlay or additional carving. I’ll have to see what I can come up with.

Unfortunately, it’s in an awkward spot where the palm grip meets the shaft.