Badger Paddles’ Tip of the Week – Getting The Most From Your Oil

Badger Paddles’ Tip of the Week – Getting The Most From Your Oil

Badger Paddles’ Tip of the Week includes information on paddling, camping, portaging, boat transport, and maintenance tips, as well as any other information that we may find to be useful around our sett.

To ensure that you are getting the best penetration when oiling your wooden paddles, gunwales, thwarts or seat parts – include the following tips into your oiling process.

Starting with a clean rag, poor the oil onto your folded cloth – not the wood. After applying a fairly liberal amount of oil* evenly to the entire surface, “WET SAND” it (using the oil as a lubricator) before you leave the oil to penetrate the wood (allowing the oil to permeate for up to 30 minutes). Using a good “waterproof” sandpaper (320 grit or finer) when oiling the wood, not only helps to open the grain (during the sanding process) but it also helps to take care of any slight raised grain issues as well as minor scratches. Sanding, a step we highly recommend, is what helps to give the wood a silky, smooth to the touch, finish. Please note that some people suggest to use a fine steel wool but we find it leaves bits of the steel fibres behind where as the sandpaper does not.

Applying a coat of oil with a clean cloth. 

Another tip, from Poppa Badger, is to use your hand to rub the surface (quickly) to create some heat. Do so in small sections until you have covered the entire area. When the oil is exposed to this frictional heat, it becomes like a polymerization effect, as a slight thickening occurs – along with the help of oxidization – resulting in a harder finish while helping to speed up the drying/curing process. If you do use your hand to rub the paddle down, be sure to take off any rings or other jewelry that may scratch the surface and always sand or rub in the direction of the grain.

Wet sand using the oil (NOT WATER).

Don’t forget to remove the excess oil (after several minutes of penetration and wet sanding) by wiping away the excess with a clean, dry cloth.  This will prevent the oil from gumming** up and allow for a beautiful smooth finish. By removing the extra oil from the surface, the drying time is also faster. Remember, it is better to repeat this process a few times, in thinner layers, then to try to apply the oil too heavily.

To see all of our Oil and Varnish Maintenance Tips, visit:

*Oil can refer to a few different substances: Tung; Linseed; Badger Wood Oil (Hemp); a 50:50 mixture of oil and spirits (which also helps the oil to permeate the wood and speed up drying time); or a store bought concoction.

**If a too heavy coat of oil has been left for too long – or you get a gummy feel to the finish –  get out your fine (waterproof) sand paper again and “wet” sand (with a bit more oil) then immediately wipe the surface of any residual oil and leave to dry. Note: if the oil has been applied too heavily, or penetrates too deeply, you may have to check back within in few hours as the excess oil may seep out during this time. If this does occur, just wipe away the extra with a clean rag and leave to dry (checking back again as needed).

Do you have any tips to share? Send us your tips and paddling advice – and if your tip is featured here – we will send you a free Badger Paddles sticker!!! All you have to do is email us your suggestions.
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