Oil Maintenance

For maintenance on all our oiled canoe paddles, we recommend using our Badger Wood Oil – 100% hemp seed oil. There is a whole list of reasons why. See our Wood Oil page for more details on the benefits of using Badger Wood Oil. If you do not have any Badger Wood Oil available to you, then a fine quality tung oil finish or boiled linseed oil can also be used to maintain the oiled finish on a Badger Paddle.

Besides being more traditional, oil offers protection for the wood by penetrating it – while reducing the slip factor that a varnish finish usually has when wet. An oiled paddle feels warmer in the hand than a varnished shaft and grip does. Some people even report lessoned discomfort from blisters when using an oil finished paddle.

We also find that maintaining an oiled paddle is fairly simple and you don’t need special skills or equipment to preserve an oiled finish. Easier to maintain then a varnish finish, oil can even be applied right at your basecamp if you have enough downtime planned for the oil to dry before paddling again.

Watch the video or see the steps for oiling your canoe paddle below. Note: For combination finishes (oiled shaft and grip with a varnished blade), be sure to read the varnish maintenance section as well. If you are working with Badger Wood Oil, you do not need to worry about any harmful VOC’s. However, if you are using a Teak, Tung, or Boiled Linseed Oil product, please be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions for use and work in a well ventilated area. Also be sure to dispose of your rags and garbage safely!

Varnish Maintenance

To keep your paddle in it’s best condition, a varnished paddle should be checked for any “scars” and deep scratches at the end of every season. Scars include nicks or heavy scratches or other abrasions in the varnish finish. Scars can be caused by coming into contact with rocks or other hard surfaces while in use or at play. These scars should be sanded out first (if possible) and the entire varnished surface be given a light sanding with a fine sand paper. This helps the new coat of varnish to have better surface adhesion.

You may only want to “feather-out” the scar by sanding lightly.  Not only will this be easier but it will allow a natural patina to acquire on your paddle.  These scars may even hold memories for you.  In the case of really deep scars, you may need to fill with a coloured wood filler, sanding level before finishing with a good quality marine grade varnish.

Before varnishing, wipe clean with a soft cloth or a tack rag to remove any surface dust. If you are only varnishing the blade of your paddle – use painters tape to give a clean edge-line to your finish. Using a brush made of natural fibre or sponge, brush on the varnish according to the manufacturers directions. Hang to dry in a warm and dry dust free environment.

For tips on how to maintain a paddle with a combination finish (oiled shafts and grip with a varnished blade), please also refer to the “Steps For Oiling Your Canoe Paddle” section below.

Steps For Oiling Your Canoe Paddle

  1. Make sure your paddle is clean and dry. If not, clean your paddle well with fresh water and dry completely.
  2. Gently sand roughed spots (if needed) with a 220 grit sandpaper, then finishing with a 320 grit paper to help ensure a smooth finish.
  3. Use a lint-free cloth to run oil over the entire surface of the paddle. Poppa Badger likes to use his bare hand for this, you can too if you are using a nontoxic oil like our 100% all natural hempseed oil. We do recommend Badger Wood Oil for maintaining your solid wood paddles, but you can use a fine quality Tung or Teak Oil Finish product or even boiled linseed oil instead.
  4. For an extra smooth finish, “wet sand” the paddle while oiling using a fine wet proof sandpaper, a 320 grit will do. Or you can rub with a superfine steel wool between coats of oil instead. We prefer the wet sand method ourselves.
  5. Leave sit for 10 minutes or so and then return to wipe off the excess oil with a lint-free cloth.
  6. Next, leave to dry in a warm, dry place with plenty of ventilation to move the air around the room. Drying time may take 48 hours or longer if the air is cool or humidity is high.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you achieve the desired results (usually 1 to 2 coats is satisfactory for maintenance)
  8. Touch up of scratches and other worn spots should be treated fairly promptly with oil after they occur.
  9. Amount of paddle maintenance required depends on amount of usage and storage means. To preserve the beauty and strength of your wooden paddles, we recommend you oil your Badger Paddle at the beginning and end of the paddling season at minimum. It is always best to oil a paddle after trip, to ensure the oil has enough time to harden and cure before putting it back in the water.
  10. Every so often, stand the paddle (with the blade-tip down) in a container filled with a small amount of oil and allow the tip of the paddle blade to soak for a few hours. Finish by oiling the paddle as usual.