I happen to like using 4 ounce fiberglass cloth on both sides of the blade on my bent shaft laminated wood canoe paddles. Here is what this looks like, shortly after the epoxy has hardened enough to touch without marking:
I decided to do more with pine this year for both shaft and blades, for a number of reasons. The picture above shows pine blades under four ounce fiberglass cloth saturated with MAS epoxy. I love how this looks. The pine is a creamy white, the epoxy is non-blushing so there is no tint to the wood from the epoxy. The knots give the blade some character. This is going to be a simple functional paddle, made by hand, all from the pieces available to anyone that buys a kit from quietwater paddles.
I think pine is a uniquely American wood. It is simple, plentiful, and found from coast to coast in one species or another. Yet it tends to be overlooked. Until this year I was in that camp, until it occurred to me that this was a rather snobbish attitude to have. It is cheap, strong, abundant, and it has character. Why the needless pursuit of “perfect” wood? This is no better than our tendency to pursue the perfect Hollywood body and ignore all else. Pine works for paddles. It looks good. It feels good. It paddles in water just like a cedar paddle does. So I’m going to make a pine paddle. Stay tuned for more pictures.