Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Bestest Paddle Ever . . .

I've often been asked about how many Greenland paddles I have made. While it is true that I went through a phase of frenzied building in 2009 and 2010 and completed a total of  10 paddles, few of these are actually still in my arsenal. My first paddle (solid spruce) was given to my sister two summers ago after she bought her new boat. The second one is languishing in the shed and has not been used in almost two years. The third iteration (my first solid cedar) has been on a long term loan to a fellow paddler for over a year now. The fourth, I gave to my wife as it was a mere 25 oz in weight and just right for her. My fifth paddle is my primary one and is the main subject of this blog entry. My sixth paddle was a solid cedar storm paddle that sees very little use. Paddles 7 and 8 were laminated beauties with great potential but due to certain design flaws they failed with great fanfare. (Number 8 snapped in two while doing a rather enthusiastic high brace in front of Greg Stamer - do'oh!!)  Paddle number 9 is a nice little solid spruce number that has been on long term loan to a fellow paddler while Number 10 is what I jokingly called the "Newfoundland Paddle" - it has a plastic edge with a wider blade for playing around the rocks.

So what makes paddle #5 so special?

It's a laminated paddle made with strips of Western Red Cedar, Spruce and Aspen. The loom has been hollowed out which dramatically reduces the weight yet it remains a strong paddle. This paddle comes in at 27 oz which is on par with most high end carbon fibre Euro paddles.

I've epoxied a plastic tip guard that has held up remarkably well for almost two years. It has managed to save the wooden tip of the paddle with no wear on the soft wood at all.

This is a fairly slender paddle - coming in at around 3.25" at the widest point of the blade. The loom is 1.25 x 1.125 and 22" in length. The paddle, overall, is 88". As per all my paddles, the edges are fairly sharp and the tips well rounded. This makes for a very quiet entry into the water. This paddle is a true joy to paddle. Also, the hollow look makes it very buoyant which is great for rolling!!

The picture below shows the detail of the tip. The white is coloured epoxy while the black is the plastic tip. The black tape is reflective.

In the beginning

After close to two years of use, I decided to do a major overhaul of the whole paddle. So I stripped the tips of most of the epoxy, removed the reflective tape and sanded the whole unit.

After stripping.

Looking a little rough.

My son wanted to see how the reflective tape worked, so I took a flash shot to illustrate.

Cool Jimi t-shirt!!
For a different look, I went with all black tips this time. In lieu of epoxy, I went with spray-on truck bed liner. This stuff is pretty tough and easier to touch up than the white tips!

As per usual, I finished the paddle with tung oil and I replaced the reflective black tape.

New tip detail.
A better idea of how it all looks!

Non-flash picture to show how the tips "normally" look.

I must admit that I am happy with the restoration project - considering it took only about an hour to complete.  I was a tad apprehensive about the all-black tips but comments were favourable when I brought it to a pool session.

I guess she's ready for another two years of use, now. I certainly hope so because I'm not sure I can ever replicate this paddle!!


  1. I'm pretty well in the same boat....however all mine just didnt feel right at all! Time to start carvin again sean to have a spare ready in a few years!

  2. I think I have enough strips about to make a new paddle and, on occasion, I get the urge to start one but then something else manages to come up and I put it on the back burner. I really don't need a new paddle as I have a bunch in reserve, i.e., out on loan, I just like the creative process of making them. Some day soon, some day soon!!

  3. How did you hollow out the loom?