Making your own CF canoe paddle?

Sooo was just thinking and struck upon the idea of carving a paddle out of laminated balsa and then covering it in carbon fiber as a DIY CF paddle. Probably couldn’t be done @ Zav weights but it might make a fun project. If it’s plausible, I dunno.

Carving a balsa core would be easy, I’ve done several WRC/Walnute/Basswood paddles and constantly get remarks. Balsa has to be just as, probably easier to work. The problem (for me) is with the composite outer. I don’t have a lot of composite experience besides for patchwork. I don’t know what kind of cloth/weave/weight would be most appropriate, etc.

What do you guys think? Is a decent balsa cored CF paddle a plausible DIY project?

Mitchell uses WRC
for their cores. My BS Mitchell tapers to about nothingat the bottom half of the blade, so I assume that there is no core in that area.

I think your biggest challenge would be to build the mold. You might be able to make a half mold, just the power face, and use a plank of minicel foam to squish the back of the paddle.


Not talkin hollow core
I’m thinking literally carve the whole paddle out of Balsa and then covering it in carbon fiber. So no molds or anything, just carve a shape you like and wrap it up in a nice carbon fiber outer. Suppose you could do a GP that way too.

What about some kind of foam
Some kind of structural foam board, Carve it, may have to coat it, and then Carbon Fiber.

Foam vs. Balsa
I’ve heard second hand that in GPs balsa is actually lighter than most foams.

Carbon Fiber is an interesting material to work with. It’s much harder to use than plain glass and it’s expensive. You’d probably end up paying as much for a paddle that you make as you’d pay for a ZRE. But making stuff is fun. I’ve done two carbon bladed paddles so far and will probably do another soon.

CF building technique
Did you do some version of pressure moulding, or just skin a wood or foam core? Is it necessary to squeeze excess resin out of the laminate, or can CF be applied and wetted like glass to a surface?


not building, just curious

balsa and foam
Balsa has density 100-200 kg/m3, typical value 140

EPS density is typically calculated per cubic foot, for construction something like 2lb density would be used, that is ~32 kg/m3.

So, say Werner Bandit blade were to be made from either materials.

The surface area is 910 sq cm, we can overestimate 1cm thickness throughout. That gives 9.1e-4 m3 volume.

Balsa would weigh 0.127 kg, or .28b, or 4.6 oz

2lb EPS 0.029 kg, or .06lb, or 1.0 oz

Of course, in both cases you would need to add lamination layers, and something for handles.

Bandit at 58inches weighs in at 0.652kg, 23oz.