Paddle Care Guide

On the matter of oiling wood, an old adage advises …“Once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year…and once a year for the rest of its life!” As far as paddle care goes, this may seem over-the-top, but the sentiment holds. Our own paddles get cleaned & oiled after virtually every trip. Here at DOWNCREEK we have taken care of the 1st week for you as your paddle comes with at least 5 oil coats applied. You should regularly maintain the integrity of the waterproofing of your paddle. How often you do this is up to you, but be advised; it does need done! If a loose maintenance schedule is adhered to, your paddle should be fit for service for many years. Don’t wait until it is a matter of urgency, but rather stay ahead of the effects of weathering and general wear & tear. As well as looking good & being waterproof, your paddle will feel nicer & perform better.

Clean the paddle with a damp cloth & dry it. Then either;

  • Apply a couple of thin coats of Danish Oil (the Rustin’s and Liberon brands are our personal favourites) with a small clean (3” sq.) lint-free cloth (an old white cotton T-shirt cut up is ideal for the purpose), wiping in the direction of the grain: wait 10 minutes after each coat and then wipe off any excess oil with another clean rag (if you keep the coat thin & even, there will be no excess). It is advisable to wear thin nitrile-type gloves for the oiling to save on hand-cleaning. Ideally the oiling should be done in a warm, dust-free, ventilated environment. If the temperature is below 15c, gently warming (not boiling) the oil prior to application will aid in absorption (don’t heat the whole tin/bottle, but rather just what you will need…about 10mls per paddle per coat). Leave the paddle to dry between applications (12 – 24hrs), and polish it up after the top-coat has dried by buffing with a suitable lint-free cloth…any sticky patches (usually caused by too much oil or overlapping) will require an extra bit of effort to buff-out. A puff of warm breath on the area can help here as it will soften the oil build-up.
  • If damage has been sustained, or the wood has become bare and started to “fluff-up”, sand out any dents, scuffs and/or raised grain with some 120grit sandpaper; always working up & down (never across) the paddle in the direction of the grain. A flexible fine grade sanding pad (available from decorator’s suppliers and most DIY chain stores) is great for an all-over fine sand…as these are soft & supple, they prevent flat-spotting any surfaces and can be washed out after use. When satisfied it is scratch & scuff free, dust it down (a vacuum with dusting brush attachment is good for this). Now, apply 3 or 4 thin coats of oil in the manner described above. The wood will let you know when it’s had enough by no longer absorbing any oil.
  • If heavy damage has been sustained, please get in touch (with photos attached) and we will advise an appropriate course of action on an individual basis.Your paddle should never be:
  •   used to push-off from rocks & jetties or for poling through rapids and over ledges
  •   used in white-water (unless it is a model with a glass reinforced blade, tip & edge)
  •   stored away whilst wet or damp
  •   left in direct sunlight (a damp paddle left exposed in a hot vehicle can be a recipe for disaster!)
  •   kept anywhere too warm
  •   kept anywhere too cold
  •   allowed to become bare & devoid of oil

Ideally your paddle should be stored hung by its handle & transported in a paddle bag (such as these

If you look after your paddle, it will look after you many times over.