I love making paddles. They are the interface between my body, the board I am paddling and the water. Paddles have history. The surface of the earth is 97% water so you know humans have been paddling something for a long time. Paddle makers have a rich tradition to help guide our efforts. Modern materials such a carbon fiber and graphite are wonderful materials for high quality production paddles but wood is our medium of choice here at CLEARWOOD. With the right combination of woods we can create a paddle that has the butter smooth pull you want and is beautiful! The key to building a paddle that is light, strong and beautiful starts with the right woods. Paddles can be built from virtually any wood. But in order to build one that is strong and light the wood selected is critical.
We use wood species for our paddles that blend strength and lightness. We use three different woods: Paulownia for strength and lightness, salvaged redwood for both beauty and strength, and douglas fir for strength and flex. Other combinations of wood will work, but we have found that in order to get the weight of the finished paddle under two pounds and to create the right strength and flex, paulownia, fir and redwood are optimum.
I have tried many different kinds of “waterproof” glue for paddle construction. Glue such as the “foaming” type polyurethane, or Titebond III either have some water in them or need moisture for a proper cure. Epoxy (I haven’t tried the water based epoxies) is the adhesive we have found to be the best choice for achieving a straight and true paddle shaft.
What we have found with blade shape is that a slight dihedral on the power face and a very small “kick” to the tip creates a paddle with a smooth and powerful stroke. Our small, direct sales approach to individual paddlers means that we can custom make a paddle to suit your needs and can also address any artistic considerations you may want to include in your paddle. All of our blades are glassed (epoxy resin) with four oz cloth front and back and up the shaft approximately 3 inches above the throat. The blade edge is triple glassed for strength. Blade and shaft both are finished with three coats of epoxy and three coats of catalyzed polyurethane for UV resistance.
The paddle shafts we make are seven piece laminations. The shaft dimensions are approximately 1 1/4” x 1 1/8”, a very slight oval.
The termination at the end of the shaft really gets personal! You will probably grip this part of your paddle on nearly every stroke you take and if you have been paddling for a while I’m sure you have a favorite shape. We can work with you on shaping a “t” handle that is functional and comfortable.