Toughening paddle tips

Dave Osborn

I received a beautiful spruce paddle for Christmas. It is unfinished, and the tip is very thin.
I don't normally use a paddle for pushing, etc. I often turn a paddle over and use the handle if a push is needed, but invariably there will be times when the tip will come into contact with rocks or gravelly bottoms.
I'm wondering, if prior to varnishing it, soaking the tip in penetrating epoxy like CPES will toughen it up.
Any thoughts, other ideas?
Giving it a bath in a low-viscosity epoxy (I use West) will toughen it somewhat, but it'll still get chipped on the odd rock. I usually go a step or two further than that, for any paddles that will see anything but deep water. Somewhere on this forum is a description of building your own hardened tips, using a mixture of low-viscosity epoxy and wood dust (that comes out of your sander's dust collection bag).

The first thing I do is sand down the edges I want to reinforce, so they're square to the blade surface. Then, I use modeling clay to build a mold, just a bit larger than the paddle tip will be, and clamp the paddle inside it, centered. Mix in the wood dust until the epoxy is the consistency of peanut butter, then put it onto the paddle tip, fit it into the mold, fill in the gaps, and wait for it to harden. Sand down to final shape. This is easy to repair after it chips, too.

I got the procedure from Doug Ingram; who has posted pictures of the procedure, either here or on Facebook, some years ago. I'll see if I have any pictures.
Looks like I lied... I think I used to use modeling clay, but I upgraded to cutting the mold out of 3/8" plywood. See attached. This one actually got fiberglassed over both sides of the blade, for a very robust repair, and intended rocky river use.


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In to photo you can see that I edged the paddle in a mixture of West system epoxy & micro fibres to keep it from being too brital