Wood SUP Paddle Making
Making your own wood SUP paddle starts with using the right materials and getting your paddle shaft made. The paddle shaft needs to be straight and true after it comes out of the clamps. Here’s a clip on how I make sure the process gets started correctly.
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 are for use in venting and tethering hollow wooden surfboards and paddleboards and 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 plug that the brass insert has been pre-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 brass insert and make it difficult to screw in the machine screw with “o” ring 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.
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 coin 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 leash pin is epoxied into position as the wood leash plug is epoxied into the board
Blocking must be placed on the inside of the board to accommodate the vent and leash plugs. The vent plug must be center bored to allow for air passage through the vent. The vent block can be slightly deeper than the vent plug which will allow the vent plug to “seat” against the bottom of the internal vent block. The blocking for the leash cup should be securely attached to 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.
Why do we build hollow surf and sup boards? Certainly not because it’s a quick or inexpensive way to get on the water! So, why? Since the first time I experienced sailing our garage-built sailing dingy as a kid, there has been a kind of magic in the process of building “homemade” watercraft, then going out and using them for fun and adventure. The passion for building things started with that garage-built sailing dingy and soon after I got out of the military as a young man, I could hardly think about anything but how to get my own sailboat. At that time in my life the process was all about sailing off into the sunset in search of perfect waves, but when I assessed my finances I quickly concluded that I couldn’t just buy the boat I wanted and sail away. But I did have enough cash to start building a sailboat one piece at a time so the boat building adventure soon started. I launched the boat two years later and sailed off in search of warm water and clean surf. I loved that part of my life, but after a few years moved on to other adventures, always wondering if I would ever experience that sense of accomplishment that came with creating and using my own vessel.
Years of riding surfboards, while also perfecting the craft of woodworking, led to a convergence of skills and interests when stand up paddle boarding came onto my horizon. I always wondered if I was ever going to experience the satisfaction of creating and using my own watercraft again, but I didn’t want to build another large craft. Hollow wooden boards seemed to be the perfect size….and I definitely was hooked on paddling sup’s! Off I have gone on this new adventure and I’m feeling that same sense of accomplishment and adventure that came when I built my own ocean going sailboat.
Building hollow boards has become much more than a business for me. It’s a personal journey that rewards me with every stroke of the block plane, and the big payoff is that I get to paddle a beautiful, functional craft that I built with my own hands. I continue to meet a wonderful cross section of interesting and engaged people in the sport and the building process both and am fascinated by the wide variety folks that decide to embark on the hollow wood board path.
If you decide to go down the hollow wood board path, be prepared to pay some “dues”. There is much to be learned and huge rewards to be gained. You will be rewarded with a beautiful craft that you have built yourself and that you can enjoy for many years to come. Enjoy the adventure!
Why build with paulownia wood?
Ok, I will admit upfront that I sell paulownia wood. That being said, the reason I do is that I want to make it available to my customers and also individuals that design and build their own hollow wood SUP’s, surfboards and kayaks. This wood is mostly unknown to the woodworking “community” outside the hollow wood SUP and surfboard markets but it is a quite remarkable species of tree and makes very strong and light hollow wood boards. The paulownia tree is a native of Southeast Asia and is the highest weight to strength ratio hardwood on Earth. It’s also fast growing and is plantation grown in many parts of the world.