Building the Plug
The directions I recommend for carving a wooden Greenland paddle are by Chuck Holst at the Qajaq USA website. Matt Johnson has an online video on how to carve a wooden Greenland paddle using Holst's directions. Brian Nystrom has a book on building Greenland paddles that you can order online at www.greenlandpaddlebook.com. My own Greenland paddle specifications are at this link.
After the epoxy has cured, apply five coats of Johnson paste wax to the plug (and flange) so the mold won't stick to it. Then, for the same reason, brush on a coat of PVA mold release and allow it to dry before building the mold.
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Building the Mold
Molding the Blade Halves
The lay-up is peeled off the wax paper and placed in the mold with the smooth/wax paper side of it facing down. Trim the excess lay-up with scissors so that only around one-half-inch of it is sticking up from the mold. Be sure to press the lay-up into the mold firmly and evenly, and press out all the air bubbles between the mold and lay-up. Use acetone to clean the epoxy off the scissors and squeegee.
Let the epoxy cure at least eighteen hours before popping the blade half off the mold. The blade half pops out easily by just bending the mold. Wash the blade half with water to remove the mold release from it. Four blade halves are needed for one paddle. Between each blade half, wash the mold with water, dry, and apply a coat of paste wax and mold release.
The blade halves won't be perfect. Sometimes the razor drifts downwards and cuts the carbon fiber slightly below the flange. After the blade halves are epoxied back to back, these small voids in the seam can be filled with thickened epoxy and sanded smooth. Also, occasional spots on the outside surface of the blade will have tiny voids where air was trapped between the lay-up and mold. As you continue building the paddle, fill these voids with epoxy and sand smooth.
Assembling the Four Blade Halves
While the perfect Greenland stroke is silent, not every stroke is perfect, and air ventilating behind the blade makes a scratching sound, which will travel loudly through a hollow paddle. To make the paddle as quiet as a wooden one, insert closed-cell foam plugs into each loom just before the root of the blade. To help keep the plugs in place, coat the sides of them with epoxy. Then after the plugs are inserted, point the looms straight up, and drop some shredded fiberglass and epoxy on top of the plugs to form bulkheads.
Assembling the Center of the Paddle
Join the two ends of the paddle temporarily at first by sanding to each side of the seam, coating the seam with epoxy, and applying a one inch wide and two inch long piece of carbon fiber to reinforce the top two-thirds of the seam. Before the epoxy begins curing, make sure the paddle is straight and not twisted. Allow the seam to cure 24 hours before gently handling the paddle. Double check that the paddle is straight and not twisted. Now is the time to bust the seam and rejoin if necessary.
When the seam is ready to be fully reinforced, sand to 1 1/2 inches of each side of it. On wax paper wet out a three-inch-wide strip of bias-cut carbon fiber long enough to wrap the loom four times. Peel the carbon fiber off the wax paper and wrap the seam. Then wrap the carbon fiber with wax paper and masking tape in the same direction that the carbon fiber was wrapped. Allow the seam to cure for three days before applying any pressure to the paddle.
FinishingSand the paddle smooth with 220 grit sand paper. Then apply a thin coat of epoxy. After the epoxy has cured, roughen the texture of the paddle for the perfect grip by wet sanding with 400 grit and rubbing it with wet "0" synthetic steel wool. It is not necessary to finish the paddle with varnish.
Materials for the Plug, Mold and Paddle
- Wood for plug and flange, 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, 9 feet long
- Fiberglass, 6 ounce, 50 inches by 10 inches
- Fiberglass chopped-strand mat (compatible with epoxy resin), 1 1/2 ounce, 50 inches by 20 inches
- Carbon fiber, 5.8 ounce, plain weave, 50 inches wide by 3 yards
- Epoxy resin and hardener, 2 quarts
- Colloidal silica filler for epoxy
- Closed-cell foam, 4 inches by 2 inches by 1 inch
- Johnson paste wax
- PVA mold release
- Wax paper
- Razors, single edge, steel backed, at least 4
- Acetone for clean-up of brush, scissors, and squeegee
- Sand paper, 60, 100, and 220 grit
- Synthetic steel wool, "0" coarseness
- Latex gloves to protect hands from uncured epoxy