Oil or Varnish Finish

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Doug
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Oil or Varnish Finish

Post by Doug » Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:00 pm

Greetings,
I'm just finishing a walnut / ash laminated paddle.
And it is always a debate on what kind of finish it should have.

Oil or Varnish

I like the ease of (tung) oil in that you just wipe it on, get a scratch / gouge, wipe more on.
But then I like the nice shine of a high gloss (flagship spar) varnish.

Decisions, decisions?

Any suggestions?
Alternatives?

Doug
"Some people hear the song in the quiet mist of a cold morning..... But for other people the song is loudest in the evening when they are sitting in front of a tent, basking in the camp fire's warmth. This is when I hear it loudest ...." BM

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:26 pm

How about both? Some people oil the shaft and grip but varnish the blade. I havn't tired this myself but I think I will do it that way on my next paddles.

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Bassbug
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Post by Bassbug » Wed Dec 08, 2004 10:14 pm

Glen,

I've made about a dozen paddles, all of which were laminated. I have used oil finsih, varnish and lately have fiberglassed the blade. I found that no matter how much or often you oil the paddles, if you use the paddle during an extended outing, the wood will swell. I've not had a separation problem, but expect one eventually. I found that the varnish did not hold up well either, especially on the tip and blade edge. Thus I put an epoxy tip on the blade. This has worked OK, but durability became a question - the epoxy chips. What I want to try next is multiple layers of dynel fabric at the tip and up the blade edge. I have not updated my paddle-making web page to include the epoxy tip and fiberglassing, but I plan to next week. If you are "easy" on a paddle the oil finish might work fine. I know some folks swear by this method. Best of luck.

http://biology.nebrwesleyan.edu/benham/ ... index.html
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Erik, Belgium
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Post by Erik, Belgium » Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:05 am

hi,

I have made about a dozen of paddles as well, and definitely recommend to oil your paddle.
I have tried varnish, epoxy, oil, or partly oil/partly varnish like Glen mentioned.

One tip though,which appreared in Woodenboat magazine about ten years ago:

first coat of oil and let the wood soak it up.
second coat (next day) and use 400 gid wet sanding paper to "polish" the oil into (onto) the wood. You 'll be amazed how soft and shiny the surface will turn out. The grain will not raise after some time. After you have toroughly polished the paddle, wipe of the excess and rub really hard on the surface. I use an old towel (a thick one, like you use after sowering) for this.

I mix the oil myself: half boiled lineseed oil, half terpentine, and add just a little "drying liquid". This drying liquid is used by artists making oil-paints. This will make the oil to dry up completely, and won't turn out "sticky".

You will LOVE your paddle, I can testify that !

Erik, Belgium.

Rick
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Post by Rick » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:08 am

To prevent further splitting, I fiberglassed a blade tip on a cherry paddle - the repair's about ten years old now and still good. All that was necessary was to sand the blade a little thinner, apply 6 oz glass about two inches wide and sand smooth afterwards. The combination of glass and epoxy soaking into the end grain seems to have made the paddle more durable as well.

Most seem to feel an oiled surface is the easiest on the hands, while a couple of coats of varnish needs less ongoing maintenance. My paddles get rough treatment, so I've recently converted to varnish, and have the blisters at the beginning of the season to prove it.

:?

JimND
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Post by JimND » Thu Dec 09, 2004 11:06 am

Like most questions asked of humans, this one will get lots of opinions, most or all of them valid and good. I am one of the varnish/oil paddlers, but that isn't entirely true either, it depends on the use. I generally don't abuse my kayak paddle much so I varnish the blades and oil the shaft. But on my canoe paddles I have started to glass and epoxy the blades and oil the shaft because I typically use my canoe in small creeks, etc. where I am using the paddle as a push pole quite often.

If you are going to oil, Erik's recommendations are good. I really flood the first coat of oil and keep the wood wet for at least 30 minutes. I apply several coats on a new paddle, sanding in the first 3. Using a heavy cloth to rub the wood after all the coats really burnishes up the wood and hardened oil into a nice soft luster.

Michael Freeman
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Post by Michael Freeman » Thu Dec 09, 2004 9:59 pm

Definitely oil on the handle and shaft - your hands will thank you! I varnish my blades (they're glassed), but always oil the shafts and handles. I don't paddle that often, and usually only need to re-oil the paddles at the start of the season.

Michael

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Doug
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Post by Doug » Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:27 pm

With oil; is there any problems with de-lamination of the paddle?

I like the idea of the oil and that it is easier on the hands.
"Some people hear the song in the quiet mist of a cold morning..... But for other people the song is loudest in the evening when they are sitting in front of a tent, basking in the camp fire's warmth. This is when I hear it loudest ...." BM

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KARKAUAI
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Post by KARKAUAI » Fri Dec 10, 2004 7:53 am

Aloha, everybody, and Happy Holidays,
Erik, How much of the drying liquid do you use? Do you use it with all coats or just the last one? After you mix the oil, turp, and drying liquid, what kind of pot life does it have? I'm making some wooden blocks for the sailing rig and will be using an oil finish on them.
Mahalo
A hui ho,
Kent

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Erik, Belgium
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Post by Erik, Belgium » Sat Dec 11, 2004 3:43 pm

Kent,

In answer to your question: I mix both oil + the dryer liquid in a container (i.e. 1 liter). It 's not that it dries up after 2 days or so. You can still use it after 1 year. I only add like maybe 3%. Hope this answered your question

Look forward to seeing your launching pics in january !

Erik, Belgium.

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KARKAUAI
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Post by KARKAUAI » Sat Dec 11, 2004 4:50 pm

Mahalo, Erik, Yep that's what I wanted to know.
A hui ho,
Kent

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Todd Bradshaw
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Post by Todd Bradshaw » Sat Dec 11, 2004 5:42 pm

Not to be contrary or anything... (who me?) but I'd oil the paddle if you want an oil finish and varnish it if you want a varnish finish. I own paddles which are older than most of you and even have a couple which are nearly twice as old as me. Some are oiled, others varnished (which in general I tend to like better). I have never seen any evidence that oiled shafts or oiled grips prevent blisters any better than varnished ones. This assumes that both are in good shape and properly maintained. An oiled finish that doesn't have enough coats will certainly abrade the hell out of your hands if and when the grip area gets wet and starts raising the grain - and a couple coats of oil aren't enough to prevent grain raising and water absorption.

There are a couple of good research studies by the Forest Products Lab which show that linseed oil is a truly lousy water barrier for wood. In some cases it even speeds water absorption, combined with the fact that it often turns blackish after a while. If you really want oil, you would be better off with Watco Oil (requires multiple coats on a weekly basis for quite a while to really seal the wood) or Deks Olje #1 a synthetic marine oil. It's applied layer after layer , wet-on-wet, until the wood won't absorb any more (like six to eight initial coats} and then the excess is wiped off. It gives a better initial seal than Watco and maintenance is just adding a new coat or two now and then. Both of these oils keep their color much better than linseed oil and also seal much better.

If you want an epoxy tip, a mix of resin with some cabosil and a high loading of graphite powder or aluminum powder will wear well and resist chipping. You can also make actual fiberglass down there by using strands taken from a chunk of 24 oz. woven roving and building a small extension on the blade with cross-wise unidirectional glass in it. Glassing the entire blade is always an option as well, but be careful that it doesn't screw-up the balance of the paddle. I'm amazed that I can go into the biggest paddling store on the planet (which happens to be here in town) and find so many custom-quality $250-$350 canoe paddles with fiberglassed blades that have horrible balance! When you lift a canoe paddle from the water you want the thing to essentially pivot on your lower hand. It should want to seek a more or less horizontal position, with the weight of the shaft and grip balancing the weight of the blade. A blade-heavy paddle is a crude excuse for a tool, no matter how fancy the woodworking or the finish is.

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Erik
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Post by Erik » Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:48 pm

This might be the answer. I found it while looking for an oil for my gunnels etc...

The finished is shiney. i talked to the tech guys and asked if i could use this in a way that would not look like varnish and he said no. it will be shiney and tough, and that is all there is to it. but it is an oil, and you touch it up as an oil.
http://www.waterlox.com/product.cfm?productid=9

Rick
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Post by Rick » Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:02 pm

It sounds like a varnish, since varnishes are made with an oil (tung or linseed) and a resin, with UV blockers added.

tambire
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Post by tambire » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:09 pm

I bought my plan for a canoe over two years ago and have finally decided to take the plunge and start my build. I thought that I should make my paddles before my canoe, as I don't want to finish the canoe and not be able to go paddle!!! I have been reading a lot of the ideas and remarks about finishes and have decided to go for fiberglassing the tip and edges of the blade and then varnish. I hope it is suitable, if not I will just have to make another one. there we go getting carried away already. My training is as a cabient maker and restorer and thought I thought I might recommend a little tip for those going to oil a paddle but this is not for the faint hearted. Apply a good coating of oil andf then with a heat gun or hair dryer gentle warm the oil on the surface, this lowers the viscosity of the oil and allows for better penertration. Allow each coat to dry and buff with a soft cloth between coats this can be done a number of time. The more coats you apply the higher the sheen. I have done this on many an Antique and with a bit of patients, achieved a high gloss and very durable finish. I hope this may help, Happy Paddleing !!!
Brian Vernon

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