I recently acquired a set of old wooden canoe paddles. They are sound and uncracked but need refinished. My thoughts are a light sanding to start. then I am unsure about the options. Spar varnish comes to mind or would some type of oil be a better choice. What would be advantages and disadvantages of both or are there other options? Thanks
Nuthin wrong with spar varnish.
A couple/three coats will do. Some don’t like varnished grips and prefer to oil them. Personally, I don’t like shiny varnish on the grips so I rub them with #0000 steel wool to a satiny smooth. Touch up the ends a couple times a season or when needed. Keeping after the endgrain tips is key to longevity.
sand and varnish
In areas in which the varnish is still intact and the wood not exposed, just rough up the varnish with medium grit paper if not yellowed.
Any areas where the varnish has been worn through and the wood is greyed will need to be sanded down to clean wood or the discolored wood will still show after varnishing. If you have a wood grip you don’t like the shape of, this is your chance to customize it to fit your hand better using a rasp and coarse paper.
Fine sand lightly between coats of varnish to improve adhesion. If you don’t like varnished grips you can try using boiled linseed oil.