Author Topic: Wooden canoe paddles  (Read 8889 times)

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Offline Moe M.

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Wooden canoe paddles
« on: April 22, 2015, 06:30:15 AM »
  I picked up a used (in nice shape) 13 ft. Allagash canoe about a week ago, I got it cleaned up a bit and found a couple of wooden beavertail paddles that I had stored above the center beam in my basement,  they are all of 40 years old,  they were made by Grumman for their aluminum canoes back in the '60's & '70's.
  The paddles are slightly used and were spares that I kept around in case I broke or lost one,  they are in very nice shape for their age,  a few dings and just a bit weathered in a few places,  I decided to restore them as best I could without getting too fancy.
  I sanded them down where the old finish had worn off,  one of the paddles had a crack in the center of the blade about 2-1/2" long,  I cleaned up the crack a little and filled it with two part epoxy,  then I put a coat of Spar Varnish over the blades and shafts leaving the end of the handle in the raw,  they've been drying over night and I'll give them one more coat in an hour or so.
  I'm undecided what to do with the raw wood handle parts,  I didn't varnish them because when I bought them new they were not coated,  most quality paddles are that way,  something about not giving you blisters or hot spots while paddling,  but they have had some weather and they do have some minor age cracks starting.
  I've read where some people say don't put anything on them,  others say boiled linseed oil,  tung oil, or Watco oil,  I've also read that some folks say the boiled linseed oil can leave a gummy residue when exposed to the hot sun, and that it really doesn't offer much in the way of protection from water and sun.
 I'm wondering how a light coat of mineral oil every once in a while would work,  it does a great job on my wooden cutting boards in the kitchen.

  Anyone have any suggestions ?
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Offline OutdoorEnvy

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 06:54:31 AM »
BLO can get gummy if you are trying to get as much to soak in as possible.  I would just wipe it down with a coat of oil and then use a dry towel and dry it immediately.  That won't be enough to get gummy and should help a little bit with protection, and make the wood look better, while still giving it a smooth surface to grip.  That's worked well for me anyways. 

I haven't tried mineral oil but I could see that working well too.  I think just a light coat or two will be the trick, and the just as needed after that so the handle doesn't get dried out to the point of being damaged. 

I wish you could get posting pics down Moe!   :-X
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 07:25:10 AM »
Honestly, I can't remember what kind of oil that I treated ours with, but I KNOW it wasn't BLO. :P  It was probably what I was treating the gunwales with at the time......a witch's brew of tung oil, Watco oil & TruOil gunstock finish.  I LOVE wooden beavertail paddles......quiet and they behave nicely in the water. :thumbsup:

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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 07:59:39 AM »
BLO can get gummy if you are trying to get as much to soak in as possible.  I would just wipe it down with a coat of oil and then use a dry towel and dry it immediately.  That won't be enough to get gummy and should help a little bit with protection, and make the wood look better, while still giving it a smooth surface to grip.  That's worked well for me anyways. 

I haven't tried mineral oil but I could see that working well too.  I think just a light coat or two will be the trick, and the just as needed after that so the handle doesn't get dried out to the point of being damaged. 

I wish you could get posting pics down Moe!   :-X

  So do I,  like I've said in other posts on loading and sending pictures,  I'm a pretty smart guy when it comes to most things but electronic devices are not one of them,  after years of having a PC I still can't manage to do much except post on my forums, goggle stuff I research,  or watch related videos,  I have a digital camera that I can take pictures with,  but still have trouble retrieving them for viewing,  and while my cell phone has all manner of applications all I know how to do is make phone calls.     :doh:
  I have never understood the mechanics of making them work,  I try to follow the seemingly simple directions and it doesn't take long for me to get lost among the clicks here and there and all the pop up or drop down windows,  and forget my knowing some of the computer terms that are a breeze for any three year old.
 I can't tell you how dumb I feel when ever I try to get anywhere with it,  a few family members have offered to help but they just can't seem to find the time,  and believe me,  I think it would take a lot of time.    :rofl:

 But,  I haven't given up,  someday (it better be soon) you'll see pictures appear in my posts.

  Someday I'll tell you the story of my trying to use my flight simulator,  that's a funny but sad story. 
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 08:13:13 AM »
Honestly, I can't remember what kind of oil that I treated ours with, but I KNOW it wasn't BLO. :P  It was probably what I was treating the gunwales with at the time......a witch's brew of tung oil, Watco oil & TruOil gunstock finish.  I LOVE wooden beavertail paddles......quiet and they behave nicely in the water. :thumbsup:

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  They're all I've ever used Craig,  I bought my first canoes in '74,  a 17' Lincoln Guide and a 15' Stowe glass covered cedar strip canoe,  then I got into my Bass boats in the mid '90's, the kids borrowed the canoes and that was the end of that,  last year one of the kids dropped off the 17' Grumman for me,  but it's too much boat for me to man handle on and off the truck,  I'm hoping this little 13 footer will be easier on me.
  I've looked at other paddles made of composits and aluminum but they hold no appeal whatsoever for me,  good wood paddles are more trouble to keep up,  but they feel so much more natural in your hands.
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 08:19:11 AM »
BLO can get gummy if you are trying to get as much to soak in as possible.  I would just wipe it down with a coat of oil and then use a dry towel and dry it immediately.  That won't be enough to get gummy and should help a little bit with protection, and make the wood look better, while still giving it a smooth surface to grip.  That's worked well for me anyways. 


  Thanks,  I may just try what you suggested,  give them a light coat of BLO then wipe them down and let them dry,  see what happens,  it can't hurt 'em that's for sure.
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Offline SwampHanger

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2015, 09:55:24 AM »
If you don't mind post up what you found worked the best please. I have a crush iPod old towns that need some love.

Offline Unknown

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 11:04:22 AM »
I don't know much about paddles Moe, but I get it. Like varnish on an axe handle-not too pleasant to use.

If you have some beeswax and some oil you can make a little batch in an altoids tin and apply to a test piece in about 5 minutes to see if you like the feel. A "thick" layer of wax is impermeable to water and water vapor, but that's not what you want of course, just saying wax is good waterproofing.

I used beeswax and Turpenoid, a fake turpentine. Any thing like mineral spirits, turpentine, mineral oil will probably work as well. Proportions-?. you want it soft like warm butter at room temp.  You just need to melt the wax add the oil and stir. You can change it with more oil or wax as needed, just use normal precautions. If you warm the wood a little and wax finish a little it will soak in deeper, water beads off. I think it feels pretty good even when wet.
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 11:59:28 AM »
If you don't mind post up what you found worked the best please. I have a crush iPod old towns that need some love.

  Will do,  I put the second coat of Spar on the blades and shafts before noon,  I'll let that dry over night and add a coat of BLO to the raw ends tomorrow and see what happens.

  Next I have to decide what to do with the seats,  the seats and center yoke are traditional ash, the seat centers are done with natural cane,  outside of just a small bit of greying from age the yoke and seat frames are in really nice shape,  a light sanding and a new coat of Spar Poly from MinWax will have them looking like new and give them protection from water and UV rays.
  The caned seats are almost like new,  no discoloring and not split or worn anywhere,  suggestions on line have ranged from using light coats of Spar to BLO on the tops,  most say don't do the underneath so the cane can breath and dry to keep from mildewing,  I'm not sure which I'll use on the cane parts yet.
  My 15 foot Stowe had caned seats as well and I never treated them with anything,  I had that boat for about eight years before my son took it and the seats held up fine while I had it,  I think the worst thing for them is people kneeling on them getting into and out of the canoes,  it splits them 50% of the time.
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Offline zammer

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 04:48:43 PM »
  I picked up a used (in nice shape) 13 ft. Allagash canoe about a week ago,

Like this one...
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2015, 05:12:25 PM »
Moe, the caned seats in my old 18 1/2' Mad River TW-Special are still in A-1 shape.  I just give them a light wipe with oil at the beginning & end of each season and they seem just as good as the day I got it.  The cane gets a little 'baggy' in wet weather sometimes, but they tighten back up after they dry.  If I think about it, I'll give them another quick oil-wipe between times........but I usually don't remember to do it. :P :shrug:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2015, 05:30:30 AM »
If you don't mind post up what you found worked the best please. I have a crush iPod old towns that need some love.

  Ok,  I finished the paddles,  what I did,  cleaned them up to get the dust and dirt off,  then used some Formsby wood cleaner to get off any old embedded wax,  then I used some five minute two part epoxy to fill in the few cracks in one of the blades.
  Once the epoxy dried I used a palm sander with 320 grit paper to sand the paddles,  I didn't try to take off any of the old varnish that was still stable,  I just smoothed out any bare spots and scuffed up the rest to give the the Spar Varnish something to hold on to.
  That done I applied a thin coat of Min-Wax brand outdoor Spar Varnish to the blades and shafts,  but not the flared ends of the paddles where the hand holds are,  I let them dry over night, when dry I scuffed the finish with fine steel wool and gave the paddles another coat of Spar putting it on a bit heavier on the blade tips for added toughness in that area.
  After doing a little testing,  my choices for the raw wood paddle ends (hand holds) were Boiled Linseed oil,  Gunstock oil, Mineral oil, or the Spar Varnish, I went with the Boiled Linseed oil,  it seems to be the traditional and most favored finishes for that application,  I was worried that it might leave a gummy residue on the wood so I didn't soak the ends of the paddle like I had planned originally,  instead I just wet the end of a cotton cloth and rubbed it into the wood in light coats.
 The wood drank in the BLO easily,  by using light coats the BLO dried almost immediately,  I applied about a dozen light coats over a two day period,  the wood darkened quite a bit,  but there were no runs and no tackiness,  they feel dry to the touch and don't leave any oily residue on my hands when I grasp them.
 They came out very well,  how the Boiled Linseed oil holds up only time will tell, repeated coats may be needed every season to keep the wood from drying out.
 Over all it took me only several hours over three days to refinish them start to finish though they were in good shape except for one cracked blade end,  and there was drying time involved,  but I'm glad I did them (especially given the price of new quality wood paddles),  and it was a pleasent project.     
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2015, 05:38:22 AM »
Moe, the caned seats in my old 18 1/2' Mad River TW-Special are still in A-1 shape.  I just give them a light wipe with oil at the beginning & end of each season and they seem just as good as the day I got it.  The cane gets a little 'baggy' in wet weather sometimes, but they tighten back up after they dry.  If I think about it, I'll give them another quick oil-wipe between times........but I usually don't remember to do it. :P :shrug:

  So far the plan is I'm going to do the same as I did with the paddles,  lightly sand the seat frames and the center carrying thwart and give them a couple of coats of Spar Varnish,  the caned seats will get a few very light coats of Boiled Linseed oil on the seat tops,  hopefully to keep them from drying out and cracking.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Wooden canoe paddles
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2015, 08:42:00 AM »
I don't like varnish on the loom because I tend to get a blister on the top of the first joint of the thumb on my lower hand when it's wet.  The blade is the only part that gets varnished, but I do make sure that the throat gets hit with oil a couple of times a season. 
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