finished carving paddle today

now, how much water to raise the grain, and what does everyone find works best for finishing the paddle. mine is made of western red cedar. thanks

Linseed or Tung Oil
mixed with a little mineral spirit (to help thin it for better penetration). Apply liberally. Let it soak. Than rub off with old rag. If you see any grain raised after the oiling and it bothers you, take 150 grit plus sand paper, take it down some more and reapply more oil.


I prefer spar polyurethane
Wipe with a damp sponge to raise the grain. For finishing canoe paddles, I use 5 spray coats of Minnwax Helmsman spar polyurethane applied on 5 consecutive days. Lightly sand (and remove dust) between coats. After the final coat let the finish cure for a week before you use the paddle. I don’t particularly like the smell of oil and each time after you apply oil to thirsty wood that smell will be with you for a while…

Every paddle I make takes
a different number of times of raising the grain and sanding to get a smooth finish if thats what you want. Usually three to five wettings and sandings get me a smooth finish. You can add some nice lightly raised grain character to the paddle if you just wet it and sand it once before finishing with a fine sandpaper.

I like the results I get from using Formby’s Tung Oil for the finish. It seems to be a mixture of varnish and oil and leaves a durable, flexable finish that can take some abuse without letting water into the wood. I have tried polyuerathanes and found them to leave a hard finish that gets cracks in it easily and lets water in under the finish.

Just wet it once…

– Last Updated: Jun-21-06 3:11 PM EST –

...with a garden hose or whatever and let it dry. Sand it with 220 grit paper until it's smooth. Repeated wettings and sandings won't hurt, but they don't seem to make much difference.

My prefered finish is a 50:50 blend of tung oil (the real, 100% tung oil, not a "tung oil finish") and varnish (any type). It produces a finish that looks and feels like an oil finish, but is harder and more waterproof. I don't thin it, as thinning really doesn't help penetration significantly, but it does make the resulting finish more porous.

Apply the finish just like you would oil, that is, wipe it on, allow it to penetrate, wipe off any excess, and allow it to cure for ~24 hours between coats. For the best finish, use 320-400 grit sandpaper to apply the third coat, then apply one more over that. There are more details in my book, if you're interested, including how to protect the tips with epoxy.