Question for paddle builders Re:Glassing

So this is for the canoe paddle builders who have glassed their blades (esp. you, Mr. Ornstein:D).

Assuming 4oz cloth and epoxy, how much weight do you find glassing the blade adds to the (still unfinished) paddle?

Do you use the typical wood/wetout/fill schedule, or do you alter application in some way?

Keep in mind, I have no vacuum bagging equipment, and I am not a pro with glass by any means.

It’s just I have this paddle that I have been on again off again with, and it’s got 33 laminations. I know, overkill, it started just as a “because I can” thing. I don’t really want to snap the blade with the amount of overall work that’s gone into it, but it’s already on the heavy side @26.5 oz.

I left more meat up at the shoulders, so I might just glass the first 6" or so of the blade.

Anyway, shoot away with whatever advice/suggestions you have.

I made a GP from WRC and it was so

– Last Updated: Dec-09-08 9:42 PM EST –

soft,I glassed the blades. One layer of epoxy;just enough to wet the cloth.Beautiful paddle.I can't say how much weight it adds,but very little.Foxworx does their canoe paddles like that.

Blade glassing
Unless you’ve got a blade so thin thats it’s not structurally sound, 4 oz cloth is overkill. Full glassing on both sides with 3 oz cloth would add about 4 oz to a 8"x20" blade and about 6 oz to a larger blade. I do a epoxy resin tip and glass the bottom 4" of the blade on both sides with 2.3 oz cloth and this adds about 3oz to a blade. Pictures are at

And I have no control over all the pushy webshots adds going on these days.

More glass- less wood
A lot depends on how you will use a paddle but I have found that 2 oz. glass works for me. I once weighed a paddle before and after the glassing, I can’t remember the exact numbers but it was minimal (about 2oz, I think).

Glassing both sides of a blade completely adds a lot of strength, knowing that a paddle will be glassed allows you to build a thinner blade. The protection from glassing lets you use lighter/softer woods. So, to get the same strength and durability glassing can actually save more weight than it will add to a paddle.

With 2oz glass my technique is to lay the dry cloth on a wetted surface then dab it with a foam brush, the lighter fabric readily drinks up the resin. Fill coats will depend on how thick you apply them but I have usually only applied one. A coarser cloth may require more.

I don’t know if I have answered your specific question but know that the weight gain from glassing comes more from the resin than the glass.

Glassing paddle
Conk pretty much summed it up. Thanks Conk.

I generally use 4 oz cloth, buth then again I often make the blades very thin. I don’t know what species of wood you used, so can’t comment as to the “excess” weight is a result of heavy wood or the blade being excessively thick or both. As Conk noted, the general rule of thumb would be less wood and more glass for maximum strength to weight ratio.

I generally lay the cloth over the dry wood. I saturate the cloth by pouring on the epoxy and spreading with a squeege. Be liberal with the epoxy so that the cloth and the wood surface can fully saturate. After I’m sure that saturation is complete I squeege off the excess then let the epoxy cure. Once the epoxy has cured, you can trim any excess cloth with a razor blade, and smooth the edges with #120 sandpaper. I lightly sand the entire blade, taking off any nubs and high spots before adding a filler coat. For a good finish, you’ll probably want 2 filler coats with 4 oz. cloth.

Wet snad the final coat with #120 wet/dry paper, followed by #220 and #320. Then your ready for varnish.

Total weight of the cloth and epoxy is 2-3 oz.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

Perfect info
I couldn’t have asked for more succinct advice.

I was going to lay down a coat of epoxy on the bare wood, glad to know that it’s not necessary.

The woods are, from the center out: walnut, cedar, walnut, cedar, ash (9 peice shaft), bass, cedar, walnut, cedar, bass, cedar, ash, walnut, cedar, walnut, bass, paduak (fire edges). Oh, and a square mortised cocobolo grip. Apart from the shaft, it was layed up at once with titebond III. As you can imagine, that was a bit of a frenzied process. I would like it to be lighter, and I guess if I take more off the shoulders and mid blade I can make it so.

All told, especially with the uber dense grip, it’s not THAT bad for such a laminate heavy blade. But I would like to shed another 2-3 oz before glassing so that I at least wind up back where I am after finish.


– Last Updated: Dec-10-08 11:00 AM EST –

pic not rotated, but for the gist.

Blade is 8 1/4" x 20 3/4"

Some of the thin bass didn't pop like I wanted it to, you can't really pic it out from more than 3' away, I suspect it picked up pigment during sanding.

It was meant to be just a kinda wall hanger, but as it came along I realized I realllllly wanted to use this one, at least for short cruises. too heavy for serious use, I don't think I'll cure that with the amount of hardwood I have in it. I have something for hardwood, sometimes I just can't escape it.

Marc, you probably use a low blush
epoxy, don’t you? Because the only thing I keep around is West with 205 hardener, I wash between coats, as well as sanding, because I don’t want amine blush to interfere with adhesion of the next coat.

Nice detail, will make you strong like

was gonna use 207
but if regular 205 will work just as well I won’t bother.

You might want to use 207 if you don’t
want to wash between coats. I believe it’s low blush. You can do successive coats with 205 and no sanding or washing, but you have to get the second coat on before the first has set hard. West details it pretty well.

I use 207
exclusively for anything that will show. I’ll use 205 for adhesive but not for glass work or coating. Among other things, the 207 is supposed to be more UV resistant. I still apply multiple coats of varnish with UV inhibitors.

If you build another paddle, laminate the shaft front to back instead of side to side. You can use soft (light) wood for the core and harder wood for the faces. You’ll get greater shaft stiffness with less weight.

Lots of laminations are alot of work but they do make for a better paddle and as you’ve shown, can look very nice.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

So far
So far with my paddles I’ve just oriented shafts with the laminations, but I definitely will try that when I start the springs project.

I plan to do a carbon fiber faced blade, a la Mitchell Surreal/Voodoo. Going to be using WRC and balsa for the blade, and light weight is going to be a major design goal. So definitely will take that advice to heart.