How to protect a cherry paddle?

I have a couple of cherry wood paddles and I would like to add some protection to the tips.

The idea is to decrease chances of damage when pushing off from shore and whenever a push

against some rocks is needed.

Any advice on how to add some protection and keep it looking good?

Thank you.

Why not just let your spare paddle

– Last Updated: Apr-14-07 7:00 AM EST –

as a "beater" one.
Use it when launching and coming back in, and then switch to the beauty for paddling.
It's probably not the answer you are looking for, but why mung up the end of a piece of art?


My intent is to use the cherry paddle
as a “beater” type spare paddle in a SOT paddled with kayak paddles. It would not see extreme use against rocks, only some push offs now and then, so if I could reinforce the tip then it wouldn’t really get “beat up”. I am not keen on the idea of using a multi-piece take apart and put together type of kayak paddle as a spare. Time can be precious if and when you need the spare.

I have a couple other wood paddles that would work as “beaters”, but they are also heavier, bigger, and more awkward to work with.

I have a couple of work of art paddles hanging around in the house, and I sometimes wonder if I am doing them an injustice by not putting them to use.

I’m thinking of applying several coats of liquid plastic or epoxy glue to the cherry tip to reinforce it.

Maybe someone has a better idea.

Thanks, all the same, Jack, and Happy Paddling!

west system
West system epoxies adhears very well to wood, I would build up the tip a little with west sytem epoxy, possibley with a little of thier micro fibers to make it a little thicker.


not what you want to hear:
get your feet wet when launching instead of pushing with the paddle off shore-bad for the paddle, bad for the shore, potentially dangerous for your shoulders,

and for pushing off the river bottom: someone invented the pole a long time ago, just for that.


If you don’t want to scratch a paddle: leave it on the cottage wall.

If you do use the cherry blade regularly: oil it (and leave the tip alone with whatever you might want to rape it with…).


Cherry paddles
Cherry is my preferred wood for paddles, all of my favorite sticks are made of cherry. With its combination of lightness, strength, fine grain texture and color it’s the premium paddle wood in my opinion, nothing comes close. When I’m running a river where I expect to be bashing rocks a lot I’ll carry a beater commercial paddle sometimes, but most of the time I use the cherry paddles I’ve carved for everyday paddling. When they get dinged/worn I refinish ‘em, no big deal.

After I’ve carved a paddle and am ready for finish I heat up the tip a bit (over the wood stove in the winter) and apply epoxy to the end grain before dabbing on some epoxy. The epoxy is drawn up into the warm wood by capillary action. Somebody here at told me about this process (thank you whoever you are) and it seems to work pretty well. After treating the tips with epoxy I then finish with several coats of spar varnish (not poly). The epoxy soaked tip seems to add some impact resistance, but not as much as a true resin edge/tip.

I doubt that this soaking into the end-grain process would work as well on a paddle that has already been finished… But you could sand down the varnish and apply some epoxy to the tip. Couldn’t hurt and would add some ding resistance.

At Raystown last year I saw a really nice epoxy edge/tip that Chip Walsh (“boozetalkin’”) put on a paddle he carved, really first class. Maybe he’ll see this thread and chime in. - Randall

protecting blades w/epoxy
I agree, this method works quite well. I buy beat up old paddles on eBay and at garage sales, fix them up and give 'em as prizes/rewards to Boy Scouts we introduce to canoeing. The epoxy method is the one that has held up the best (and I assure you a 12 year old Scout can put any paddle tip to the test!) As DennisH and arkay have described, you only need to do the tip, not the entire blade; I do about the bottom 1 1/2 inches, taping it off to provide a clean edge. Sand it well (final grit is 220) and then give it 3-4 coats of West System Epoxy. I really like the idea from arkay about heating up the wood a bit first. And if you’ve never used Epoxy before, pay very close attention to the warnings about always wearing gloves and doing it in a well-ventilated area. Epoxy is nasty stuff, even in small quantities. But there is also nothing like it for this type of project. Spar varnish the rest and if it is a canoe paddle leave the grip uncoated, as the natural oils in your hand will feel much better on a long trip than the varnish, which can rub enough to blister. Great luck!

Storm front is coming in tomorrow night
so I’ll get the wood stove going. I’ll sand the tips of the wood paddles

and apply the epoxy when the tips are warm.

Thanks for the “tip”.

Happy paddling!


– Last Updated: Apr-13-07 10:36 PM EST –

I thought you were talking about a canoe and a canoe paddle



Resin tip

– Last Updated: Apr-14-07 10:26 AM EST –

Here is how I add resin tips to a paddle.
Materials and tools needed: saber saw, power sander, 4 3" spring clamps, 2 12x16x1/2" pieces of plywood, heavy duty aluminum foil, duct tape, and about 5 oz of West systems epoxy. Trace the tip of your paddle on a piece of paper so you know what the final tip curve should be. Sand down the tip area on blade surface as well as the edge to bright wood. If you are concerned about adding 3/8" to the total length of the paddle, remove that amount of wood from the tip. Tear off about 20" of HD aluminum foil (the regular stuff may not hold as a form), put the blade half way onto this foil, bring the other end of the foil up on the blade so the bend in the foil is tight to the tip. Fold in the edges of the foil on both sides: fold one inch, flip, fold next inch in, flip, etc. until tight to the edge of the blade. You should now have a foil pocket surrounding the bottom of the blade. Carefully pull the paddle out of the pocket about 3/4". If you crush the open space in the bottom of the pocket, make your pocket again. Duct tape one side of the pocket to the blade. Hang your paddle vertically from a ceiling joist and tease out the foil away from the blade on the side without duct tape. Mix up your resin and hardener and pour into your pocket. Needs to be enough resin so that it will completely surround the tip. Place your plywood on either side of the blade with about 4" of plywood below the pocket. Use the 4 clamps on the corners to sandwhich your blade tip between the plywood (the paddle and forms should be still hanging above the floor). Clamp top corners first. Let the paddle hang and resin cure for 24 hours. Remove the foil, you can sand the small stuff off when you shape the tip. Use the paper tracing to draw your tip shape reference on the resin so that you will end up with about a 3/8" resin tip. Rough cut out your new tip with the saber saw. Sand the resin edge to your reference mark and fair any dips or bumps. Sand to remove the resin on the blade face to the wood. Refinish bare wood or whole paddle - your choice.

lite use only

– Last Updated: Apr-14-07 3:53 PM EST –

I protected the tip of my cherry paddle with epoxy and was very happy with the results untill I landed it vertically on a rock, which split the blade in half. Not fun. I would think that the kind of use you are talking about would be ok, but be warned, epoxy alone, while effective against abrasions, will not save your stick from impact, to do that I feel you need a composite material too. I used a whole lot of fiberglass, but I think you might keep your weight down if you ran a piece of dynell (sp?) rope along the edge, or even just some nylon rope soaked in epoxy. Of course I paddle white water so you should do whatever you fell is appropriate for your paddling style, just thought I would add another option.


just out of curiosity…
where did the quot on the bottom of your profile come from, its a good one.