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Paddle Repair

Discussion in 'Paddles and Paddle Making' started by PeterS, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. PeterS

    PeterS New Member

    Hi there,

    I'm relatively new to carving paddles, and picked a piece of cherry that had some mill marks on it at regular intervals. I assumed that they were superficial, but after carving into the wood, I found that there are 2cm deep cracks along a 13cm stretch of the blade. Would it be best to...

    1. Try to clear out the crushed wood, and then fill the space with a marine epoxy.
    2. Ignore it, leave the blade thicker than planned, seal it with spar varnish, and only use it for casual paddling.
    3. Carve only on the cracked face until the desired thickness is reached (it is still pretty thick) and then seal it.

    Thank you for your help!

  2. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    You still have plenty of thickness to remove to make a "knife" edge. You might go past that.
  3. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    I agree with Rob. If you try to fix it now, you'll end up removing a lot of the repair job, so don't bother. Keep going, and see how much of an issue it'll be, if any. When you get close to its final thickness, you'll be able to use a putty knife to force some adhesive into the fissures, and then clamp it as best you can. I'd use a laminating epoxy, as its lower viscosity will help get it into the fissure better, but you won't know how deep the fissure and the adhesive go until the paddle breaks.... which might be a long time.

    It looks like you've used a quarter sawn piece? I've always used flat sawn, on the premise that the wood will hold up better that way, avoiding splits in the blade. This is from Graham Warren & David Gidmark's book, "Canoe Paddles." It's available here at the WCHA Store:

    It'll be interesting to hear how it holds up!
  4. OP

    PeterS New Member

    Thanks for the advice - I'll try carving it down a bit more and then potentially add some epoxy if I can still see the cracks.

    As for it being quarter sawn, I didn't think about that affecting the strength when I picked it out. I might add an epoxy tip to it if you think it needs the extra durability?
  5. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    An epoxy or laminated tip will help the durability of the tip, but I don't know whether it'll help with the splitting issue that Graham & Gidmark cautioned about. When you find out, please let us know! The quartersawn paddle does look quite nice...
  6. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    It's not unusual on fine old paddles to have the thickness of the blade gradually flare a bit at the tip (maybe in the final couple inches as you approach the end). It gives you a somewhat tougher and more split resistant tip area, while the rest of the blade can be thinned out nicely along its edges.

    Epoxy and fiberglass can also be used to wrap a tip. If you cut the piece of cloth on a bias, you can neatly wrap the tip with a single piece having no seams, cuts, darts, etc. This is a whitewater kayak paddle and the glass was installed to replace a worn out aluminum tip protector, so no effort was made to hide it. It was two layers thick, and applied as one using pretty heavyweight fiberglass cloth. If desired, a similar tip could be finished off with filler coats to eliminate the weave texture and blend the tip into the paddle cosmetically. Cutting the cloth pieces on a bias (diagonal to the weave) is always the main key to neatly wrapping fiberglass around complex shapes.


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