17′ Unlimited Length Standup Paddleboard
The 17′ Unlimited length SUP board by Clearwood is now ready for production after a year of designing, building and testing. We’ve been paddling the board in a wide range of conditions varying from glassy flatwater to wind chop, and in both upwind and offwind conditions. I also raced the board in terrible, rough ocean conditions and still had fun, but had the most fun in more protected water. The Unlimited 17′ x 27 1/2″ stand up paddleboard went upwind well in 10-12kts of wind and was really swift off the wind. This is definitely not a “downwind” board in the sense of doing “downwinders”, but more a fast cruiser which will be suitable for paddlers up to 260 pounds handling a wide range of conditions.
Conceptually, the development of this board has been to accommodate bigger paddlers that still want a board that performs well. The Clearwood Paddleboards 17′ Unlimited length SUP board will be a great board for extended touring with the ability to handle sizable loads or will be perfect for the larger paddlers out there that just want a great board under them.
The 17′ Unlimited length SUP is based on the very successful and swift “Cascade” lineup of boards. We’ve added length, and reconfigured the rocker line and think we’ve created a fun and fast platform for paddlers wanting to paddle a longer board. The board is designed with the same reliable “fishbone” style frame with a few added structural elements to give the board a very solid and stiff feel. The prototype board came in at a very respectable 42 pounds using paulownia strips with salvaged redwood pin line and features.
I’m really looking forward to paddling this board with a gps on board so I can see what kind of speeds we’re getting with the prototype. But I can tell after paddling the board that it sure seems like I’m going fast!
How to install your Clearwood vent and leash plug sets.
The following post highlights the installation of the vent/leash plugs for venting and tethering hollow wooden SUP’s and surfboards.
The vent plug with brass insert and a leash plug with a stainless steel pin for use in venting and tethering hollow wooden surfboards and paddleboards are pictured above. The brass vent insert and the stainless steel pin are provided loose, which means you will need to work with an appropriate epoxy product in order to adhere the brass vent insert into the wood vent plug and the stainless steel pin into the leash plug.
You will see on the vent wood plug that the brass insert has been threaded into the wood plug from the bottom of the wood vent plug
This has been done to assure proper alignment when the brass insert is threaded into its center hole. You can remove the brass insert from the vent body and carefully reinsert it into the wood vent body after you have coated the inside of the hole with epoxy resin/hardener. I have found that the best way to coat the center hole in the wood vent plug is to use an artist brush other small, flat bristled brush to carefully brush resin/hardener into the hole while gradually threading the brass insert into the center hole. Care must be taken to not over apply the epoxy/hardener.
Over application will create excess epoxy which can flow onto the inside of the vent insert and make it difficult to screw in the machine screw that acts as the seal. I lightly coat the inside of the wood vent plug hole with epoxy/hardener, then with epoxy/hardener that has been thickened slightly with silica dust, apply a VERY light coat of the thickened epoxy/hardener to the inside of the wood hole that the brass vent is being threaded into. This slightly thickened epoxy/hardener mixture will provide a positive seal around the thread and lock the brass insert into the wood vent plug. You can also cut a small bit of masking tape which can applied to the threaded hole that accepts the threaded vent screw.
This work must be done carefully to make sure that the threads that accept the machine screw do not get contaminated with epoxy. Should you get epoxy in the hole that the machine screw will be threaded into, or have an excess of thickened epoxy around the top of the hole, use a “Q” Tip (cotton swab on a thin stick) saturated in denatured alcohol to clean up the epoxy on the brass thread inside the hole. If you do need to clean epoxy off the inside of the brass insert I recommend this be done multiple times to assure that the threads are clean and free of epoxy. While threading the brass insert into the wood plug you can use channel locks to hold the wood plug.
When the inside of the wood vent block has been saturated with epoxy and coated lightly with thickened epoxy, thread the brass insert into the hole in the wood plug. This is done from the bottom of the wood plug. The brass insert is threaded up into the wood plug using either a wide screwdriver or the edge of a sawzall blade until the top of the brass insert protrudes slightly above the top of the inside lip of the wood plug.
Installing the stainless steel pin into the pre drilled hole in the wood leash plug is a two step process. I recommend that the inside of the leash cup be coated with three coats of epoxy/hardener prior to installing the stainless steel pin. It’s important to finish and protect the inside of the leash cup and this is difficult to do once the pin is glued into place.
The vent and leash plugs are 1. 4375″ ( 1 7/16″ ) in diameter and the round mortise that you drill in your board should be 1.5″ ( 1 1/2″ ) in diameter. Blocking must be placed on the inside of the board to accommodate the vent and leash plugs with the internal block for the vent being center bored to allow for air passage through the vent. The vent block can be slightly deeper than the vent block which will allow the vent block to “seat” against the bottom of the block. The blocking for the leash cup should be securely attached to the internal structure of the board due to possible extreme loading on the leash cup
Making a Wood SUP Paddle
The process of making a wooden SUP paddle has some key steps that must be done correctly in order to create a paddle that both looks and works great. The best way to start thinking about the process is to consider the different parts of the overall finished paddle as sub-assemblies that are built up, then combined to make the finished shape.
The shaft of the paddle is the “foundation” and the sub-assembly that the blade and the grip will be glued to. Proper laminated shaft design considers several different points; species of wood, shaft flex, sectional shape, and length are the main points to start the process. Overall blade size will come into play as well, so you might look at the blade size on the paddle you are currently paddling and start planning for the material you need. The materials you choose for your shaft will impact both weight and flex. Some flex is good but sometimes too soft a flex doesn’t work out for the better, so designing a lamination that is light, strong and with just enough flex is critical objective for a shaft that can be used comfortably.
Determining overall finished paddle length, and assembling the materials are the first steps in the process. The materials you choose for the shaft should be 2” longer in rough form than the finished length of the paddle you will be making. The paddle will be assembled in rough form then cut to length after all of the sub-assemblies have been assembled.
The best paddle shafts I have made are a combination of several different woods. Some wood species are chosen because they are light and strong, some woods are chosen because they will flex and are strong, and some woods are chosen because they are beautiful, not too heavy, and have some structural capacity. The right flex for me, which is fairly soft, is a combination of vertical grain douglas fir, salvaged old growth redwood and paulownia with the center being 1/16” redwood, then two 3/16” laminations outside that, then two paulownia laminations outside that, then finally redwood strips on the outside. I make “rough” lamination approximately 1½” x 1½ which gives me plenty of material to shape the saft from. See photo below of the setup for gluing up a straight shaft. The gluing jig I use is a 1 ½” x 1 ½“ piece of lumber that is screwed to a flat strong back. It’s critical that the strong back be flat. If it isn’t you will laminate a curve into your shaft! Again, the rough shaft length should be two inches longer than the overall finished length of your paddle.
Careful consideration must be given to the type of adhesive that you use to glue the shaft laminations together. I’ve experimented with most types of “waterproof glues” and have found that I get the best results from epoxy. Any glue, such as the aliphatic resin type have a moisture content that transfers to the wood during the curing process. The outcome has been shafts that didn’t end up straight without a way to fix the problem after the shaft comes out of the clamps. Even the foaming polyurethane glue guideline suggests best adhesive performance if the wood is dampened slightly prior to spreading the adhesive, so for me polyurethane is a “no go” for paddle shafts. Proper epoxy technique with pre-saturation of the glue surfaces and correct amounts and types of thickening agents will produce a shaft that comes out as straight as the jig set up.
In the photo below you will see the basic set up for gluing together a paddle shaft. I attach a 2″ x 2″ piece of wood to a flat table. The 2″x 2″ piece of wood is the jig and another 2″ x 2″ is used as the clamping caul with the strips that make up the paddle shaft being wrapped with waxed paper so the shaft strips don’t stick to the jig or caul. You can also see in the photo below that I have the paddle blade parts organized and laid out and ready for gluing to the paddle shaft.
In the next segment I’ll go over the specifics of the shaft laminations….stay tuned! 🙂