Paddling 101: Basic Home Paddle Repair

By Tom Watson.

I can still see myself thrusting the tip of my fiberglass paddle into the murky water as I initiated a very unsophisticated and unanticipated brace. I instantly heard the grating crunch as the tip of the blade ground into whatever hid beneath the surface. Whether it was a rock or a submerged piece of hardened junk, it didn’t matter. An edge that had been as smooth as the horizon line on the tranquil Pacific was now a mini-profile of the jagged Rocky Mountains ridgeline.

Frequent use, even among the most cautious and careful paddlers, means that blades are going to chip, ferrules are going tighten/loosen and finishes might roughen over time. Most of these dings and other problems are fixable using a minimal of materials and basic shop skills know-how. Let’s take a general look at all the things to consider when engaging in the repair of kayak and canoe paddles…


  • Paddles & Shafts – Typically blades are either wood (mostly canoe) or a variety of materials including plastic, fiberglass and graphite (mostly kayak). Shafts are made of these materials as well as aluminum.
  • Adhesives, coatings, etc. – Glues, resins (epoxy, [poly]urethane, methacrylate), marine spar varnish. Here’s a brief overview of the most common ones: