Carbon Fiber Paddle and Wood Sea Kayaking Paddle: Build One Yourself

Duane Strosaker, a sea kayaker and paddle maker in California, uses templates for building his own lightweight and wood carbon fiber sea kayaking paddles. His materials list for building a lightweight Euro wood and carbon fiber paddle isn't long. You'll need some straight-grained Sitka spruce (if you can find it) without any knots, a dozen clamps or so, a band saw or a jigsaw, and a rasp or drawknife.

You'll also need carbon fiber cloth, epoxy and a small variety of hand tools.

Duane came up with a method and design for making a 32-ounce ounce wood and carbon fiber kayak paddle in a weekend or so. Handy about his method and design is that the project's not beyond the skills of anyone who has a home workshop. His instructions are direct and easy to follow, and each step is well documented with photos.

If you follow his methods you'll make a 32-ounce ounce carbon fiber kayak paddle that's strong and responsive. Duane went to efforts to ensure that his design creates sea kayaking paddle blade that won't flutter. For kayakers who can roll and are comfortable bracing, he recommends a slightly elliptical shape in the paddle's shaft so that you can more easily find the power face.

His design is for an unfeathered sea kayaking paddle, but if you already know what your favorite degree of feather is, you shouldn't find it difficult to incorporate it into his design. You'll need to be comfortable with eyeballing some of the curves and will also need to know how to laminate blanks that are strong, don't have voids, and that haven't been over compressed during curing.

The steps are straightforward. First you laminate the blanks. Then you attach the blade to the shaft. You will need to be adept using carbon fiber fabric and epoxy and fillet materials, a fairly easy skillset to pick up. The keys to using carbon fiber fabric (and fiberglass, for that matter) and epoxy on wood are wetting out the wood first with epoxy, placing down the fabric, then wetting out the fabric until it becomes translucent.

Tools for using epoxy are varied. You'll want some inexpensive chip brushes for pushing the epoxy into the fabric to ensure that the fabric is fully wetted out. Four-inch phenolic core rollers are also useful for laying on subsequent coats of epoxy to fill the weave of the fabric.

It's important to use phenolic core rollers that won't fall apart when loaded with epoxy. A small variety of auto body shop plastic squeegees are useful for ensuring that your coatings of epoxy are smooth, evenly-spread, and don't pool, adding unnecessary and expensive weight.


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