My best friend's family has a pair of great canoes of which my friend and I take advantage often. However, the vintage paddles which accompany them have long ago worn into disrepair. Therefore, I repaired and refinished them. Hopefully my process can help guide you on your own wooden paddle repair.
- Old paddles
- Wood glue
- Wood filler
- Sand paper
- Wood stain (if desired)
- Screws and wood (to replace any missing pieces)
- Hooks and string (to hang paddles during finishing)
Step 1: Replace Any Missing Pieces
One of the most obvious problems with the paddles was a missing chunk of a handle. To replace this, I cut the rough shape of the missing piece using a jig saw, and drilled countersunk holes in it to secure it. I sanded the area it needed to attach to flat, and then screwed the new piece to the paddle. I next carved and sanded the handle to its final shape. Finally, I removed the handle and added some wood glue to help hold it in place.
The images I have included are somewhat out of order, as I actually had to make the replacement handle twice to get it right. Though your paddles may not be missing handles, you can use methods similar to my own to repair any missing portions you do encounter.
Step 2: Sand and Fill Cracks
Next, I sanded the paddles to remove all of the remaining old finish and gain a good starting place to work.
Any cracks were filled with wood glue and then clamped closed to dry. Saw dust was used to remove excess glue, and wood filler was used to fill holes where the handle was repaired and other small gaps where cracks were repaired.
Step 3: Finish and Protect Wood
Finally, I hand sanded the paddles one last time to remove extra wood filler and glue, and to provide a good surface for finishing. To give them an older look, I used a couple coats of stain on the paddles. After this, I applied several coats of thick polyurethane (sanding lightly between coats for smoothness) to protect the paddles while in water.
Step 4: Enjoy the Paddles
The paddles are finished, and ready to provide numerous years of continued service. The printing on the paddles didn't come out quite as clear as I hoped, but I am otherwise pleased overall.