Opinions on finishing a GP?

-- Last Updated: Mar-28-07 10:02 AM EST --

Hoping to finish carving my first GP this weekend. Can't wait, its all I can do to get through the work week in anticipation.

Wanted to know other folks have used to finish their paddles? Tung oil, epoxy, etc. What are the pros and cons of the methods you have used.

Also, I'm worried about the ends splitting. The piece of wood I'm using is the straightest, closest grained and I fear that after getting it wet a few times it might decide to split. Any suggestions on preventing this?

I’ve tried a few
Plain spar varnish, spar varnish over epoxy, Watco Oil, I’ve done 'em all. I like Watco teak oil the best, and plain spar varnish second.

For splitting, what you can to is epoxy the tips. I like to coat the last 3 inches of the paddle with clear epoxy, and when that’s dry, mix up some epoxy with fumed silica (make it so thick that you’re just barely able to put it on smooth) and white pigment, and use that as a second coat. It gives the paddle an “authentic” look, like a real bone-tipped GP. It also makes the tips really tough compared to just oiling them.

Next one I make will have white epoxy tips and a teak oil finish everywhere else.

But no matter what you finish it with, have fun with it!


right on wayne nm

I don’t use a hard finish
like polyurethane because it can crack very easily and let water under the finish. I have had good results using Formby’s tung oil or boiled linseed oil. Formby’s gives the paddle a varnish type look and is a flexable finish that won’t crack easily when the paddle gets dents. Boiled linseed oil works really good and gives the paddle a better grip and won’t slip in your hands as easily when the paddle is wet.

For the paddle tips I use epoxy with white pigment. It works well if you apply the first coat when the epoxy is runny so that it soaks into the wood well. When you put the second or third coat you can mix the epoxy and let it stand for a period of time until it starts to thicken and then apply it for a nice thick coat. Epoxy helps with abrasion and keeping the tip from splitting but it will crack and chip if the paddle hits rocks hard. Some of the home builder stores sell small quantities of epoxy and sometimes you can get it in white.

GP finish
I like them unfinished (western red cedar), with epoxy at the tip for some protection. A hard finish slips in my hands.

I just use
Watco Danish oil. Recoat it occasionally if I remember to. I have made and use a dozen GP’s, mostly WRC a couple with pine. None have ever split and I am not careful with them.

Epoxy tips, oil/varnish blend finish

– Last Updated: Mar-29-07 8:05 AM EST –

I use the same method as Wayne for the tips, then use a 50:50 mix of varnish and tung oil for the rest of the paddle. Just make sure you get 100% tung oil, not one of the "tung oil finish" products commonly sold in big-box stores. Those are typically wiping varnishes with little or no tung oil in them. Boiled linseed oil also works. It's easier to find and cheaper, but prefer tung oil.