Modify an older wooden paddle?

An older friend of ours found out that we purchased a kayak recently and told us that she had a paddle from when she used to kayak and she’d love it if we’d take it. (She stopped kayaked many years ago.) We met her today and she gave it to us and it clearly has a lot of sentimental value for her. She made kind of a big deal about how happy she is for us to make use of it, etc.

It turns out that she used to do white water paddling, and the paddle is an older wooden paddle from Grey Owl. It’s a one-piece with a 90-degree feather and metal guards on the ends of the blades. It seems to be 207 cm.

We’re not going to be doing white water at all. We’re just looking at recreational/light day touring, most likely low-angle paddling. We have a kayak with a 25" beam and the recommended paddle lengths are generally 220-230 cms.

I was wondering if it might be possible to cut the paddle and add a ferrule to make it a two-piece and be able to change the feather? (Maybe add a bit of length?) And maybe reshape the end of the blades a bit to make them less square?

Would that be a stupid idea?


Hang it up in a place of honor…
It has earned it…


That’s virtually a museum piece. Paddle with a modern paddle and honor that paddle as greyhawk suggested.

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@kayakhank Oh, is it that old? I wasn’t sure, and was worried it would be rude to ask the person that was so happy to give it to us. . .

There is nothing you can do to that paddle to make it good compared to modern stuff.

If it was me, I would take it out for a paddle and let the person know you used it. Let your friend know if they ever want it back, they are welcome to it, and then just put it aside somewhere safe. If they have kids or other family, maybe ask them if they want it at some point.

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My vote goes to keeping it as a wall hanger just as it is. :slightly_smiling_face:

Maybe…but the return would be less than you desire. The ferrule needs a certain diameter shaft. The shaft is inserted into the ferrule. Gained length maybe an inch or less. Adding ferrule adds weight so you wouldn’t want extra ferrule length.

Make the paddle a wall hanging. Carve a new pallet.

It’s definitely possible to reshape the tips of the blades if you like and if you don’t mind modifying a classic paddle, I have canoe paddles with reshaped blades. I don’t know what ferrules are available that might let you lengthen it. I agree that hanging it for display is one way to honor it but personally I think that putting it back into service is even better.

I agree that modifying will change the character of a nice old paddle and not yield something particularly useful.

It’s the same reason you see heavy wood X-country skis, bamboo poles and leather boots with cable bindings hanging on the wall in taverns, but not so much in the back country…


A nice display piece if your décor can use it or possibly someplace like the Adirondack Museum might have an interest. However, by the time you reshaped the blade and found a ferrule that would work, you would have destroyed the character of the paddle. Essentially nobody uses a 90° feather anymore, the reshaped blade would be too short with not enough surface area, and the ferrule would add weight.


That should be a wall hanger. It is probably worth some money but since it was a gift hang it up.


That thing is a battle axe. Keep it as is and use it for home defense. That thing is bad ass. It seems it would be in bad taste to modify it.

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No way I would try to repurpose that paddle; I’d be concerned about ruining it.

I’m not even a kayaker, and I’d be proud to have it hanging on a wall in my house with a solid wood, straight shaft on both ends, kayak paddle by a company called Buffalo and a vintage 2 piece, wooden Folbot paddle with metal blade tips, and ferrule in the middle of the shaft.

I also believe a more modern paddle will likely be more to your liking. Doesn’t have to be super expensive.
Would definitely take it out and paddle with it for a day; just to see how it handles, and just “for grins”.


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Agreed that you wouldn’t gain much more than an inch, but if you’re determined to do it, I found a light carbon-fiber ferrule at Duckworks for an Inuit paddle I had carved and wanted to be able to take apart and carry on the train. Of course you have to check the diameter of the shaft. Also agreed that hardly anyone still uses a 90-degree feather, so a ferrule would at least take care of that issue.

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An old, wooden, 90 degree paddle. Wow. They were all either zero feather or 90 back in the day. Desecrating that antique would be very bad kayaking juju, so I recommend that you take the earlier advice and mount it in a place of honor on a wall somewhere. Paddle design has evolved and that blade is a bit of a dog. Better to leave it be.

Thanks for that comment. I didn’t know about Duckworks or that there was a carbon-fiber ferrule. Chatted with a guy there today and he was very helpful. Good stuff to know.

Thank you, everyone. I decided to take your advice and purchased a modern paddle today. Thanks to limited stock availability this year, I even ended up upgrading to a bit of a nicer paddle than I was initially intending to buy. Still not top of the line or anything, but it’s an Aqua Bound Sting Ray Carbon 2-piece with the Posi-Lok system.

I’ll look into maybe hanging up the wooden Grey Owl, though the 90-degree feather makes it kind of stick out from the wall a fair bit. :slightly_smiling_face:

I will take it out and try it at least once though, just to be able to tell our friend that it did get used.


Excellent choices!

Pictured are 3 of my wall hangers(a Blackburn and 2 Lutras); their paddling days are over.
I have many others to fulfill any paddling needs I have.


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