Wood SUP Paddle Making

Wood SUP Paddle Making

Getting Ready for Glue Up

At this point in the process you will have your paddle shaft glued up and milled to size (1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″). This is the point in the process where you will cut the long miter in the shaft that will form the bend at the blade end of the paddle. I’ve created a simple jig that slides in the slots in the top of my table saw. The jig is set up so that the shaft will slide through openings in the jig which is then passed over the saw blade. The long part of the shaft is held in place by cam clamps that are set up to apply pressure to the center line of the shaft and this holds the shaft in place while the saw cut is made.  I’ve laid out 9, 10 and 11 degree marks on the jig which makes it simple to clamp the shaft down to the sliding jig at the desired angle.

It’s important to layout the long miter carefully so that you end up with a shaft miter that is the proper length for the blade you want to create. I lay this miter out on the squared up shaft with a pencil and a large protractor so that there is no guesswork when you fire up the saw. I have made the mistake of not getting this right and the blade end miter came out short! So know what will happen and how the parts will go together prior to making the cut.

shaft 4

shaft 3

Once the cut is made, the short, blade end of the cut is rolled over and becomes the mitered piece that is glued to the long part of the shaft. If you are using epoxy for the adhesive (recommended) this will be a very strong joint. At this point in the process I round over the long part of the shaft leaving the grip location square so that I can glue the grip parts onto the shaft. The cut off blade end is also left square.

I round over the shaft with a 5/8″ roundover bit on a router that is housed in a shop made router table. It is easiest to round over the part of the shaft that isn’t adjacent to the grip of the blade before the grip is glued on.

shaft roundover 2

shaft 2

The miter has additional reinforcement provided by the blade which is glued to the side of the shaft.

shaft 1

shaft glue up

We have all the paddle parts laid out, dry fit and they are ready to glue up for a nice laminated wood SUP paddle. All of the pieces are sawn to the same 1 1/4″ dimension of the paddle shaft cross sectional dimension. You can use up any scrap you have with consideration for the weight of the species of wood you choose. I tend to use paulownia wood for most of the surface area of the paddle blade for its good weight to strength ratio, with some accent wood strips mixed in. The glue up process is quite straightforward and simple. I always lay out the parts to be glued up, on a sheet of waxed paper which will prevent them from sticking to the work surface. I prefer using epoxy glue for all of my adhesives for many reasons and one of them is that you don’t need high levels of clamping pressure. Also, the nature of a well shaped paddle blade means that some of the parts of the blade will be fairly thin so the importance of using an adhesive that you have confidence in is critically important. Once the blade is shaped, it is then sheathed with fiberglass cloth. I use the same 4oz (3.7 oz actual) that I glass my board with since there are always cut off corners which are perfect for glassing paddle blades.



The technique for using epoxy is the same as you would use for any situation where epoxy is being used for an adhesive. I pre-saturate the mating surfaces with mixed epoxy/hardener then add a structural thickening agent which is then applied to the mating surfaces. This assembly is then lightly clamped. In the photo above you can see that I’ve created a “platform” which has been clamped to the shaft. This provides a secure surface on which the grip parts can rest while the adhesive is curing. The grip I’ve used for this paddle is solid paulownia wood. I have made grips with multiple laminations of different woods but I like the workability of paulownia so am trying one with just one species for this paddle.

You will also see in the photo of the grip that I’ve rounded over most of the shaft prior to assembling the parts.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the setup on the workbench: