Split Paddle

I have a nice flatwater paddle that has a split running the length of the blade. The blade is laminated from several strips of wood. The crack is within one of the strips, not at a glue line. I’ve tried to glue and clamp it several times, using a variety of supposedly waterproof glues. Each time it cracks again after a short time. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to fix it?


Sew? Glass?
I have heard the oldtimers would drill holes and use brass wire to lace a split back together.

I would sand both sides of the blade and laminate 4 oz glass on both sides. That will stop it from splitting.

I repaired a laminated wooden paddle once with epoxy, and it held for years. But the damaged area was jagged and had a lot of surface area. It sounds like you’re talking about a small surface over a long length, and I don’t know if epoxy would hold.

I agree that fiberglass will hold it together.

– Mark

He didn’t say “epoxy”. If the surfaces
were prepared and mated properly, West epoxy would be as good as the original wood.

I have glassed several paddles, but it does add weight, especially if done over the whole length of the paddle. If the paddle in question is really such a favorite, I would first do an extra careful glueing of the split with West or a similar epoxy (and little or no filler), and then I would glass only the ends of the split.

That is, glass would go over the split only at the bottom end and the top end of the blade.

When glass is applied to only part of the length of a blade, the borders of the glass should NOT be at the same latitude on both sides of the blade. I did that once, many years ago, and the blade snapped right at the glass line. The glass zones should not end in a straight line, but in an arc. I somewhat prefer to cut the glass on the bias. It will conform better to any reinforcement rib zone on the wooden paddle.

Split Paddle
The reason the split keeps reopening is that the surfaces of the crack are likely contaminated. You say you have tried various glues and each leaves a residue in the joint.

I would sand down the entire blade (both sides) so that you have clean wood without any finish. Start with 80 or 100 grit paper and work down to 180 grit. Sand evenly with a foam pad so you don’t create any “gouges” in the blade. Sand with the wood grain so you don’t get noticeable scratches showing through the final finish.

Clamp the blade so that the crack is tight and cover one face with 4 oz fiberglass cloth and epoxy. When the epoxy has set, remove the clamp, flip the paddle and do the same to the other side. Once the epoxy has set apply additional coats (2 or 3) to each side to completely fill the weave of the cloth. Wet sand the blade starting with 180 grit and working down to 320 grit. Finally finish the blade with spar varnish for UV protection.

A couple of notes:

Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions for the epoxy you use. Most epoxys give off a waxy film called blush that needs to be washed off between coats.

If the paddle will only get careful, light use you could get away with 2 oz fiberglass and save a bit of weight. Conversly, use 6 oz for greater strength.

The newly reinforced paddle will likely be stronger than it originally was. You probably won’t add more than a couple of ounces to the total weight.

If you need further advice contact me at dogpaddle@frontiernet.net

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Glassing weight
Interesting conversation, I just got back from the corner deli where I was weighing a paddle on their scale. I finished glassing the blade and wanted to know how much weight I added. It was 23.84oz. before glassing and is now 25.28oz. That’s 1.44oz. to cover both sides of an otter tail blade tip to throat. I used 2 oz. glass and applied only one coat of resin to fill the weave. I did use strands of glass pulled from woven roving to treat the edges and buttered a little resin mixed with 404 high-density filler to build up a wear surface to the tip. I do believe that a cracked blade should probably be repaired with heavier glass than 2oz but if one is careful with the resin the weight gain shouldn’t be much over a couple oz. I will be taking the paddle back to the deli after three coats of Pettit 2015 Flagship Marine Varnish


Fiberglass and epoxy
get it as smooth as you can.

After it hardens, sand it and give it another light coat of epoxy.

Then one more final one.

Sand it real good, and it should last for as long as you have the paddle.



I fixed a cherry beaver tail paddle
that had a split right up the middle of the blade,

past half way. My first couple of attempts failed.

So, one last try, and I gouged a 1/8" channnel with

a file up the length of the crack on both sides with

a file. I used epoxy glue in the crack and the

gouged channels, clamping from the sides.

It’s still holding up, after a few years of use.

Good luck!

Same problem, different attempted fix
I ripped out the split and a little beyond on the tablesaw. I shaped a “sliver” of red cedar to fill the cut and glued it in. It lasted for awhile, then the split reappeared. The bad piece of wood “a small knot” with gnarly grain around it was more than the neighboring laminations could deal with. The repair didn’t fail, the one on the other side of it did. I won’t try it again.

Does the NY State Health Department know about your deli visits?


Was going to ask re paddle fix
Have the same problem and was going to ask the same question…now I don’t have to.

Thanks Bill

Freehand rip
on a t-saw sounds scary for those not used to sharp chunks of wood hurled at their heads! The concept I like, however. Freshly cut surfaces are ideal for bonding with glue of any kind. Maybe a handsaw and a couple of passes with a hand plane might be quieter (less screaming). A filler strip of same or similar species would be my choice. Of course, this assumes that the split is not in the central shaft. If that’s the case, trying to clean out the split, gluing and glassing might be best.