Wooden Paddle Repair

I have two wooden paddle repair questions:

  1. My old Redtall cherry beavertail paddle has a one and a half inch vertical crack at the tip. What’s the best way to fix it? Epoxy, fiberglass, wood filler and varnish?

  2. The varnish is worn from the shaft of my Harmony Vapor paddle where I pry off the gunwale while J stroking (hey, Bill Mason says it’s OK to do). Can I just sand and revarnish the worn area, or should I refinish the whole shaft?


If you can see daylight through
the crack, it needs a structural repair, ie. thickened epoxy filler and glassing the blade. If the crack is tight at the tip without clamping, you can probably get away with Titebond TypeIII and a re-varnish. If you don’t keep up with maintaining the tip of a one-piece wood paddle, the end will start to absorb more and more water into its fibers and when it shrinks as it dries between wettings, it loses some of its bond between those fibers, eventually resulting in a “sprung” crack.

As for your shaft, how about just sanding and oiling? If you’re constantly prying off your (aluminum?) gunnel, you’re probably gonna end up with chipped varnish again, after a refinish, anyway.

I hate prying hard off gunnels that are harder than my paddles for this very reason.


– Last Updated: Mar-23-09 9:07 AM EST –

1) If the wood near the crack is in good shape, I would sand off the old finish (the whole paddle), tease some Titebond 3 glue into the crack, line it up as best as I could and clamp it until the glue dries. Then I would sand both sides of the blade face to flush and remove all trace of glue. I would build and shape an expoxy resin tip protector for this paddle and then use 3 oz fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin to glass the blade on both side from 2" above the crack to the tip. Sand to smooth and then I would apply 5 spray coats of spar polyurethane to finish to the whole paddle.

2) The problem with doing a spot finish is the new varnish won't blend (feather out) well with the old and if you are a perfectionist, this transition from old to new is noticeable. Further, new varnish does not bond well with old unless the old is roughened up. But you can make-do by just varnishing up the bare wood for now and using the paddle for a while, but make refinishing the whole paddle a priority sometime in the next few winters.

Paddle repair
Both posts above have excellent advice and just about cover the subject.

Only thing I can add is to carefully look at the split after you glue with epoxy or Tightbond. Usually the split extends a bit farther than the point you can get those glues into. Varnish will probably cover this, both figuratively and literally, but I go one step farther and use thin super glue in the remaining trace of the split and then varnish…


Thanks guys
Exactly the information I needed.