First step: Purchase a paddle! And make sure it's not an adjustable paddle either. That would just be redundant.
OK! So now you have your new fixed paddle and need it to be cut to your proper length. Let's do it right!
Light Grit Sand Paper (optional)
Any type of epoxy you'd like to use- in shop we use the Gorilla Glue brand. (see picture)
Measure your paddle. There are a few way to effectively do this in order to get the proper height you are looking for. In the shop what we like to do is use an adjustable paddle to get the proper height from the customer right in the shop. The average paddle height that is comfortable for most people is having the handle directly beneath your hand when holding your arm straight overhead. (see picture)
If you don't have an adjustable paddle to measure off of, you can do it by holding the fixed paddle up to your outstretched arm, and having a friend hold the handle up to the shaft to see where it would properly sit.
Once you have the proper height, be sure to mark your fixed paddle on where you would like to cut it. ALWAYS take into account the new handle when mapping out your measurements. Otherwise your cut may be too short, or too long!! Too long being alright, but too short...not so much.
Once you have the spot marked off and ready to go, it's time to- cu...nope! It's time to measure it again! While you may be able to fix a cut that is too long, you won't be able to fix one that is too short. And as we all know, new paddles are quite an investment. Which means we have to make sure the measurement is correct, the handle will sit in the proper location, and that what we are using the paddle for is congruent with the length we are cutting the shaft.
So, just a recap- the average length of a paddle usually sits directly underneath your palm, where you can comfortably fold your wrist over the top of the handle. If you are cutting a surf only paddle- it can sit an inch or two lower. And again, always make sure you are including your new handle into your measurements. Got it? Alright...now we can cut it!
Grab your pipe cutter! This tool is used only as an outline in order to make sure you are cutting straight with your hand saw. (see picture) If you try to use the pipe cutter all the way through, it crimps too far onto the shaft of the paddle resulting in it being bent, making it difficult to insert the handle after completing the cut. They are also insufficient tools when trying to cut carbon fiber as they often times aren't sharp enough to do so. Use it just as a guide!!
Finish your cut with the saw- paying attention to the blade of your paddle as well. Many times we get so involved with doing the cut we fail to realize we are banging the paddle blade on hard surfaces rotating the shaft in order to complete the cut.
This step is optional, but recommended!! Once you have your cut completed, it is always good to grab a light grit sand paper and give your new cut a once over. Especially if your cut went a little sideways- sanding it down is a good way to make it look clean and even.
Apply your epoxy!! The best way to do so it to take a piece of paper or cardboard and place some epoxy on it. Once you have it on a flat surface, make sure to mix up both parts. This will insure that the glue will hold even when you're pushing and pulling hard in a race! Once it is mixed up, place the epoxy evenly on the bottom of your handle. Once it is on your handle, place it into the shaft, being sure to rotate it in order to spread the epoxy evenly. Get your paper towels ready as this will cause the excess to spill out and onto the floor! Once you have your handle all the way it, wipe away any excess epoxy from your paddle.
Straighten the handle on the paddle- making sure it is in the correct position in relation to the blade. The best way to do so is to hold the paddle by the shaft with the blade on the floor. Holding it in one hand, look down the paddle to the blade and you will be able to see if your handle has been placed on correctly. If you don't have the best eyes- grab a friend for a second opinion. Paddling with a crooked handle is uncomfortable and distracting- make sure it is in the right place before proceeding!!
This is the easiest step- let it dry!! Once you have the proper length, cut, and the handle is in straight- place your paddle on a level surface, preferably with the handle hanging of a ledge in order to reduce any movement or further readjustments. The epoxy we use at Walk on Water takes about 5 mins to dry, but to be safe, 15-20 mins is a fair amount of time to let your new paddle dry.
Once it's cut, the handle is put in straight, and you let it dry for a proper amount of time...well, the only thing left to do is paddle!! Get out on the water and enjoy your brand new paddle and relish in the idea that you customized it yourself! Well done!
And if you have any questions or still don't feel comfortable cutting your own paddle, we at Walk on Water are always here to help! So stop in and say hi!!