What you need:
- Measuring tape
- Masking tape
- 80 grit sandpaper
- 120 grit sandpaper
- Paper towels
- Latex glove
- 5-minute epoxy
- Duct tape
Sizing your paddle
There is a lot of different opinions out there on how to properly size your stand up paddle. Some people say stick your arm over your head with a slight bend in it and that’s where you want your paddle. Others just add a fixed number to your height that varies whether you will be using it primarily for surfing, racing, or touring. For instance, if you were 6’4″ like myself the recommended paddle length from Quickblade paddles would be between 84-87″ depending on what I planned to use it for.
Personally I like a paddle around 85″ and I used an adjustable paddle to figure out where my sweet spot was. However, many paddles are shaped differently with different blade lengths and dimensions and you will be using different boards that could ride higher or lower in the water so it is difficult to recommend one set number. This gave me the idea to start with a longer paddle shaft and slowly take off another inch or so after I tried it a few times. I did this by cutting it longer than I thought I would need it and simply duct taping the handle in place. This allowed me to try out a few different lengths to find one I was happy with.
You can use this technique to try out a few lengths and go shorter but you can’t easily make it longer. I say easily because it is possible but not the most ideal solution. If you accidentally go to short and must add some length back to it I believe Quickblade sells an insert that can fit inside the shaft then allow you to glue an extension onto the insert. Again, start long and go shorter as needed so you can avoid this issue.
After trying the paddle a few times and deciding to go with 85″ it’s time to cut and glue the handle in place.
Cutting and Gluing Your Stand Up Paddle
To cut your paddle measure from the end of the blade to the point you want on the paddle shaft and mark it with a sharpie. Don’t forget to consider the length of the handle that you will be topping it with and adjust accordingly. The paddle I was using from Naish came pre marked at different paddle lengths that accounted for the extra length of the handle that will be added. I measured the paddle and hand just to double check and it was spot on, thanks Naish.
Next, take your masking tape and center it on the point where you would like to make your cut and wrap the tape all the way around. You can measure again and mark the tape at the exact length with a sharpie if you like but I just eyeballed it and cut through the center.
Once your paddle is taped take your hacksaw with a good sharp blade and slowly cut through the shaft, rotating as you go to minimize fraying. Try your best to make sure your sit is even so the paddle handle will sit perfectly on top. I will generally leave the tape on until I have done the gluing to minimize any extra mess or clean up that will be needed.
I’m not using a shrink gasket on the top of this paddle so after cutting it I took the 120 grit sandpaper to put a slight bevel on the top and take any hard edges off. This will allow the paddle to sit evenly on top of the shaft without the need of using a shrink gasket to smooth it out and seal it.
Once you have your paddle cut to the right length, take the 80 grit sand paper and rough up the inside of the paddle shaft and the handle insert so that the epoxy will stick better. Then, put on your latex gloves and mix the epoxy and hardener on a piece of cardboard. I like to use gloves so I can just mix and apply the epoxy with one finger. Mix the epoxy and apply it to the inside of the paddle shaft and also to the outside of the handle insert.
After you have applied a good amount of epoxy insert the handle into the shaft and align the handle. After the handle is inserted you might have some extra epoxy seep out so wipe it with a paper towel and remove the masking tape. Sight down the shaft and be sure the handle is straight. Once that epoxy dries it is on there. If you are worried that it might move while drying you can use a piece of masking tape to hold it in place but it dries pretty quickly.
That’s it! You have a fresh new fixed length paddle. Let the epoxy cure over night and take it out for a test run once it is set. Below is the finished product (still has some tape to hold the handle straight while drying), my Naish Kaholo paddle. Unfortunately, the day after I glued it and left for the SUP trip to Arkansas it managed to slip out of the gear trailer with another paddle and I only got to use it once. So, lesson learned, always double check your straps when traveling.
Other Paddle Resources