GP refinishing

Last fall I was thinking about refinishing my laminated GP with epoxy & spar varnish. Received many helpful suggestions from many of you.

Unfortunately, I was struck down by a severe case of frickin’ laziness, and never got roundtuit.

So, now I am considering the following refinishing scenario: I do not like the loom to be slippery, and was considering sanding the original polyurethane down and simply oiling it with boiled linseed oil, diluted for penetration. This got me to thinking about sanding the WHOLE paddle and just oiling it.

The real question is “Will a well-maintained linseed oil finish protect a laminated paddle?” Anyone with experience, pro or con?


Assuming A WaterProof Glue

– Last Updated: Apr-20-05 4:19 PM EST –

used in the lamination process, then diluted linseed oil should do the same amount of protecting the rest of the wood from water penetration as it does for a one piece carved paddle.


PS. I used Sanjay's Cricket laminated GP as model for a GP I made for someone who wanted that size and shape. Sanjay's poly finish was pretty battered but the wood and lamination seem to be fine under all the scratches.

Its a Mitchell Horizon
and I have to assume the glue is a waterproof variety. Thanks for the info Sing.


Whats wrong
with a light scuff sanding, wipe off with a tack cloth and another coat of poly? Might even use some Formby’s wipe-on poly:) I wouldn’t over think this problem.

After paddling both
varnished and Tung oiled paddles, I’ll opt for the oiled versions any day. I probably won’t refinish my varnished (polyurethaned) Bending Branches canoe paddles, but my future (home made) paddles will all be oiled and buffed several times.

Quick side not, if you expect bottom contact with rock (and in WV you will have it) leave the harder finish on the tips or after stripping add an epoxy finish for the last 3 inches for durability.


The the 3" of tip blade on my GP is glassed and epoxy. Haven’t had one crack yet.

I much prefer the feel and look of oil finish on the rest of the GP. When the dings and scratches really build up, I do a light sanding and give a thorough oiling again.


have a glass/resin tip inlay. but I like the idea of coating teh last 3" of blade with epoxy resin.


A good compromise is…
…to blend linseed or tung oil and varnish. I use a 1:1:1 blend of oil, varnish and turpentine (or mineral spirits) on my paddles. It produces the same look and texture of a plain oil finish, but it’s more durable.

Spar varnish I assume? Brushed or rubbed?


oil and laminate
Adhesives don’t hold up as well when exposed to oil. I glue hardwood with 1/8" doll rods along the edges of my greenland paddles and use oil on them without haveing problems yet. Some people have had problems with laminates seperating when they use oil. I prefer oil because it protects the wood from water better when it gets dinged up. Some people like the durability they get from epoxy and varnish. Don Beale has some interesting advice at his website.

From the horse’s mouth
(sorry about that metaphore, Mitchell’s!)

I called Mitchell paddles today, and they confirmed the varnish was polyurethane. I also asked about refinishing with linseed/tung oil, and was told that it was possible if the stick was well-sanded. And they are not worried about adhesive damage.

To the shop!


I Think You’ll Find The Oil Finish
more attractive and better to the feel. Well, at least, I do. :slight_smile:


More details
The type of varnish really doesn’t matter, as the resulting finish is quite flexible regardless of what you use. Gloss varnishes produce a satin finish when mixed with oil, so there’s no need to use a satin varnish.

I typically apply the first two coats with a rag, allow it to penetrate, then wipe it down. To achieve a smoother finish, I use 320 or 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to apply subsequent coats, then wipe it down with a rag. The light sanding action makes a big difference in the smoothness of the final finish. I find that 4-5 coats typically does the trick.

Rubbing finishes is a waste of time and energy, unless you just like doing it. There is no evidence that it increases penetration and in fact, it may reduce it. The heat from rubbing causes the finish to cure faster, giving it less time to penetrate.

If you talk to Don Beale about oil…
…you’ll find that the problems he reported were with laminates that were coated with oil when the (polyurethane) glue may not have been fully cured. Unfortunately, this has been widely misinterpreted as meaning “you can’t oil laminated paddles”, which is not what he said. IIRC, he didn’t do any further tests after the initial problem he encountered. I haven’t heard of anyone else having such problems, nor have I had any myself with laminated paddles or kayak frames glued with polyurethane glue, then oiled.

You have to keep in mind that Don is building paddles as a business, which imposes certain time pressures that the typical home builders don’t have to deal with; in business, time is money. That’s not a criticism, just the reality of a manufacturing business. If you laminate a paddle blank and allow it to cure overnight (or longer) before carving and finishing it (which will take a few hours more), you’re not likely to run into any problems.

Tried the tung/linseed/turpentine mixture on teh loom and shoulders. Too lazy to do the blades at this time, and I didn’t want to destroy the Mitchell decals.

Great finish! Grippy but not rough, smooth but not slippery. I highly recommend it! Thanks for the tip.


You’re welcome
I’m glad to hear that you like it. Interestingly, I’ve read several furniture making articles recently that advocated the same type of finish. Apparently, it’s pretty versatile.