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Step 7 - Glassing the Blade

This step in building the Stand Up Paddle is quite simple and straightforward.  Start by cutting a piece of 8 oz. fiberglass cloth that is about an inch larger than the blade.  Next, tape around the back edge of the blade.  This will catch any epoxy drips that come through the cloth and make their way to the underside of the blade.  When the tape is removed, the drips will also be removed, saving you from having to sand them down later.  Now situate the paddle so the blade is level in all directions.  This will help to reduce the tendency of the epoxy to run to one side of the blade creating runs and curtains that will have to be sanded smooth later.

Drape the fiberglass cloth over the blade and gently smooth out any wrinkles.  You’re now ready to saturate the cloth with epoxy.

Apply enough epoxy to allow the wood to absorb as much as it wants while still saturating the fiberglass cloth.  If the cloth still looks a bit white a few minutes after applying the epoxy, you need to add some more.  Be cautious not to add too much epoxy though.  This will float the cloth above the wood weaken the structural bond between the fiberglass and the wood, creating a weak blade.  You have added too much if you can’t see the texture of the weave and you only see shiny epoxy.  If you need to remove some epoxy, do so gently with a squeegee held at a low angle.  After about a half hour remove the tape from the back side of the blade.  If you leave it until the epoxy dry’s it will be very difficult to remove without sanding.

Let the first coat of epoxy partially cure then add a second coat.  Partial cure usually takes a couple of hours.  You’ll know it’s time for the second coat when you can touch the first coat and leave your fingerprint in the epoxy, but there’s none on your finger.  If you can’t get to the second coat at this point, let the first coat dry for 24 hours, clean it with soap and water to remove any amine blush, dry it off and lightly sand it before adding the second coat.

Add the second coat by pouring the epoxy on the blade and spread it out with a paint brush.  To be sure that the second coat is evenly spread over the blade and little sanding will be needed to level it out, brush from the top of the blade to the bottom. 

Then brush diagonally in each direction.  Then finish by brushing from top to bottom again.

Allow the second coat of epoxy to cure for 24 hours and repeat the process on the back side of the blade.  

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For the back side of the blade, cut out a piece of fiberglass just as you did for the face of the blade, but make this one a couple of inches wider at the top so you’ll have enough glass to wrap around the shaft/blade joint.  When you lay the glass out, use your fingers or a dry paintbrush to help the glass conform to the shape of the joint.  Then wet out with epoxy as described above.  Here’s a couple of pictures of what the back of the blade should look like before and after epoxy.


Here’s what they should look like when you’re finished.

After both sides have cured for at least 24 hours trim the excess glass off with a jig saw, shape the edge with a sander, and sand both faces of the blade smooth with 120 grit sand paper.  Then apply a third coat of epoxy to both sides of the blade and allow it to cure before doing a final sanding with 180 grit sandpaper.  Here is what it should look like.

The blade is now finished and ready for varnish.


Now on to Step 8 - Attach the Handle and Epoxy the Shaf

© Gary Mastry II 2013