Broken paddle

If you have the piece that broke off, repairing it is easy. Use some epoxy to glue it back on, sand the joint smooth, then fiberglass both sides of the blade with very lightweight glass cloth (2oz or lighter). I can post pics of a very similar repair on a favorite cherry beavertail.. hopefully get to it tomorrow. Right now, that paddle's in clamps, getting the shaft repaired...
You do both. Template it and then try to repair it. Worst case scenario you end up with 2 paddles. One you treaure and one you built.
I repair paddles all the time with good results making new is not the same as a old one but nice to have made your own
Attached are pics of the paddle with the broken blade. It also has a crack in the shaft, which is now well on its way to being repaired...


  • IMG_4135.JPG
    216.3 KB · Views: 711
  • IMG_4145.JPG
    149.3 KB · Views: 716
  • IMG_4140.JPG
    342.2 KB · Views: 710
  • IMG_4141.JPG
    175.3 KB · Views: 746
Last edited:
Thanks! RE: the blade: I had tried just gluing the broken piece back on, and then glassing just the tip of the paddle, and then just a strip of glass the length of the crack, but it didn't have the strength it needed to stay intact. Your mileage may vary; the blade on this paddle is very thin. If you need to 'glass the whole thing, use very lightweight 'glass cloth to unbalance it the least bit possible. I don't even fill the weave (2nd coat of epoxy) for that reason. It leaves the surface weave visible, but is noticeably lighter.

RE: the shaft: The grain of the original wood doesn't run out; what you're looking at is actually the curvature of the 1.5mm shims I glued into the shaft after shaving down past the crack. I'm hoping this holds well... otherwise this paddle will be relegated to ceremonial use. That would be a tragedy, indeed!

By the way, this is a Redtail brand paddle: The logo fell victim to the repair processes long ago. They're located in Hastings, Ontario. My local retailers don't carry these any more, which is undoubtedly a big part of why I make all my own these days. The only other Redtail I've seen around here is a walnut ottertail, which is stunning, both in appearance and in use. They do nice work!
I haven't noticed any extra drag due to the unfilled weave, but I'm not know for my delicate touch on anything, either.

Same issue with buying any paddle online... I like to take a good look at it, feel it in my hands, feel how much flex there is... and of course, how it looks on the back side.

I have repaired splintered paddles without making new cuts, but success is very touchy. If you don't locate every single little defect in the remaining grain, it's just another split waiting to happen. I've repaired a paddle for my local Forest Preserve District (a 6&1/2 foot monster, used for their 34 foot Voyageur Canoe programs) several times, and it has fallen to this problem every couple years or so. Whenver it needs work, I force the splits open to see how far they go... usually it's all the way through, and I get a multi-piece puzzle to reconstruct. The last time I glued it up, I put a fiberglass sheath on the shaft to give it more strength. A few weeks ago, after I'd stripped the cast off it, split it apart, and glued it up again, I stress tested it by flexing it... and I had a new puzzle in my hands! This time I split out a lot of pieces, glued it all up, and casted it all over again. Stress tests at every step indicate it should be good to go... hahahaha When it breaks again, it'll be left in pieces, and we'll make a cross for a tombstone, to be used as a new prop for the Voyageur programs. And then I'll just make a new one.
I typically use epoxy (hardware store variety) for repairing the wood parts, though with the cherry beavertail I'm using Titebond 3. Since it's supposed to be waterproof, I thought it would be worth a try. Polyurethane adhesives should work as well, but I don't have any around.

For some paddles, I've put a coat of 'glassing epoxy on the wood parts; it soaks into the wood well, which seems to provide a much better seal against water than oil or varnish. Some of my paddles have contrasting woods (maple & walnut, etc; see previous posts here), and with differing expansion rates due to moisture content, problems can abound. The epoxy coat seems to resolve that quite well,,, at least in the short term I've been using it. Of course, then your only choice for a top coat is varnish, as oil is pretty much pointless on top of epoxy.

I really doubt that any finishing process can keep water out of a paddle for all too long. Finishes are mechanical contrivances, and all mechanical things fail, with time and use. Even strip & glass canoes get water in through cracks in the glass. So unless you're willing to re-coat on a very regular basis (I'm not), durability is crucial. We all learn as we go along, and make our own choices, which is a good thing. This forum is great for bouncing ideas around, and learning from others!
I used Elmer's Carpenter's glue for my cedar strip, covered in epoxy, and have had no issues realted to that combo. That's been 9 years, lots of reapirs, including a major overhaul.

Yes, the fumes off epoxy are not my cup of tea either... but it works well for the application. I typically get everything set up, do the work, then get out of the shop. Trying TB3 on the beavertail paddle is an attempt to look at options. PVA (Gorilla glue) has pretty good strength, but the cleanup after it foams out looks like no fun, so I've never used it. My daughter brought some home for a school project; looks like it left quite a mess, which could be more of a technique issue than the glue itself. ;)
Durall Plastic Resine Glue

I had failures on 2 canoes using epoxy for scarfing gunwales using 1:12 scarf lenght. Started with creeping then failure. I then used Durall Plastic Resin Glue. It's the same as the Weldwood brand. Comes in a powder form you mix with water. No failures yet. It's waterproof, bugproof, etc. Simple to use but does not have the gap filling capacity of epoxy.

Now I will drive long distances to buy, beg, steal, smugle, barter, anything! to get full lenght material.

Also used this glue to fix a cracked vintage laminated paddle (not glassed) that's been used 3 years now, no problems, just refreshed the varnish once in a while.

Anybody else tried Weldwood?

Louis Michaud
Rimouski, Quebec
I've used weldwood on quite a few projects including laminated bowl turning blanks and dive platform on the back of a boat. Have always had very good luck with it. Michael
I'm a bit puzzled about what you guys are complaining about relative to epoxy.

I checked the MAS MSDS and while there was a bit of a issue with Resperation, not much.

I didn't see a spec on the VOC but in laying up 3 canoes, I haven't seen/smelled any problems, and this was in the basement.

There is a little oder with epoxy resin and hardener, but not very much.
Now you don't want to get it on you but that's another issue.

As for poly, it's strong but joints have to be tight, if the poly expands, it has no/little strength.

Supposedly the resorsenal (sp) (I believe the powder) is supposed to be the best but I haven't tried any yet. And it's hard to find.

It's hard to beat epoxy for strength, eez of use and availablity.

epoxy for paddle repair

Wood glue may work fine for repairs of things like paddles, but there is no denying that epoxy is by far the strongest material we have in the wood boat building arsenal. It requires some care however to get a good result.

Quality marine epoxy has little if any fumes. I have built a whole sea kayak in the house with no problems. If fumes from off-gassing are apparent you either have an inferior material or polyesther resin which always has lots of fumes and odor.

You must have the right material to match the temperature that the epoxy is curing in. You must rough up (abrade) the surfaces to be bonded. It is useful to coat both surfaces to be mated with epoxy, then add more thickened epoxy before the thin surface coat has set up. Finally, do not over tighten the clamps. It will reduce the effectiveness and strenght of the final repair. I hope this helps. Most people who don't like epoxy have little experience with it.

Quality laminated wood paddles like Sawyer, normally have a light weight fiberglass cloth layer on the blade wetted to clear, which is not visible on a quality job. It makes sense to use that technique for a damaged paddle. Leave the shaft alone if you can as it obviosly makes for a better grip.
I also have been exposed to more than enough organic vapors. They give me killer headaches. When I'm glassing, I wear a respirator. On short jobs, I don't wear it (though I should), but then I leave the room. The stuff's not good for you! It just works well. That's why I've started looking for alternatives. I don't expect to find one for glassing epoxy, but maybe the adhesives... every little bit helps!
Matt and Paul,

I feel for you guys, I have a problem with red cedar dust, if I don't wear a mask, I can't breath after about 15 minutes of sanding.

Hopefully I won't work with enough epoxy to get sensitized to it. :) One of the reasons I like playing with W/C instead of making strippers.

As for the PL stuff, if that's the same stuff that's sold as construction adhesive, I would be concerned a bit about clean up and the mess it makes.
And how controlled it can be applied.

Play with it some and let us know how it goes.

Looks like it's worth a try. It says it glues anything to anything... so I can use it to fix my daughter's glasses, when they break across the nose? I will be impressed! :)
epoxy hazards

Mr. Pumpkin,

I am sorry to hear of your developed sensitivity to hazardous materials. It is not fun. We are all a product of our life experiences. When I built fiberglass sailboats for a living in 1974 for Tanzer Yachts in Arlington, WA times were different. Polyester resins and chopper guns were the norm. Only air driven tools were allowed due to explosion hazards. We had open doors for ventilation but no fans. We used to wash our hands in acetone several times per hour. Fiberglass particles constantly irritated the skin. Then came OSHA and much better materials.

From this perspective modern epoxy is very easy to work with. I am anxious to hear more about other new materials that you mentioned. I didn't stay in the plastic boat business for long. Now I only use modern materials when necessary. (like paddle repair)
...And now we know how to work it! Thank you for sharing this! :)

We'll wait with bated breath to see pictures, and hear how it comes out in the end...