This How-To is featured with a video & a step-by-step breakdown to get you paddling faster.
Watch Bob Long from Bob's West Coast Paddle Sports.
A. Paddle Size/Length
The correct paddle size hinges on too many variables to be captured by any simple formula. But, after interviewing nearly all the world's top stand up paddle athletes, we've found the following to be a helpful reference point.
For a more in-depth look on paddle size, refer to our 'how to pick stand up paddle size' (coming soon). And remember Jamie Mitchell: "For me, it's just about feel, it's all about feel. Not what someone says 'I should have a shakas length or 6 inches or 8 inches.' I just go by what feels better when I'm in the water. Go with what feels comfortable."
B. Careful with Tapering
Some shafts do not have a uniform diameter throughout their length. In such cases, cut the shaft within 10 inches of its original size to avoid a misfit between the shaft's and the t-top's diameter. If the manufacturer offers different sizes of the same model one-piece paddle, this is a good indication that the shaft tapers, so it's safer to get the paddle size that will allow you to make a cut within 10 inches of the shaft's original length.
Step 1 - Deductions
Once you've determined the length you want for your paddle (83", for instance), measure how much length the t-top, once attached to the shaft, adds to the overall paddle length. Some t-top's do not add any length to the paddle while others can add as much as 3 1/2" or more. If the t-top adds to the overall length of the paddle, subtract that extra length (3 1/2", say) from the length of the overall desired paddle length (83" in our example) and you will end up with the length you need to make the cut (79 1/2", measuring from the tip of the blade in our illustration).
Step 2 - Taping
Tape the shaft and mark the 79 1/2". The reason we tape the shaft is to give a clean visual mark and to keep the carbon fiber from shredding on the cut.
Step 3 - Cutting
Use a miter box to help keep the blade straight and hold the paddle in place as you are cutting it. You can cut it by hand without using the miter box, just hold it on a very steady work bench. As you are coming thru your cut, make sure to slow down at the end so you don't tear your carbon fiber on your cut through.
Step 4 - Sanding
Take the sand paper and finish out the edge, take off any burs inside and outside of the shaft, and also sand up the t-top so that you'll have some grip when inserting it into the shaft.
Step 5 - Gluing
You're ready to glue. Use a waterproof epoxy quickset glue. Squirt out equal parts of the epoxy glue into the mixing cut. As you mix the glue, it'll turn into a milky white color and make sure it has a nice smooth consistency. First coat the inside of the shaft to make sure all the surfaces are covered. Then, apply the glue to the neck of the t-top all the way around, making sure there are no air bubbles or dry spots. Insert the t-top into the shaft, spreading the glue evenly and wiping off the excess glue.
Step 6 - Alignment
Sight down the shaft and make sure the t-top is in line with the edge of the blade. Once it's aligned correctly, apply masking tape to hold it in place and let it dry. It should take about 5 minutes for the glue to set. Then, remove the tape, clean up the mess, and you're all done.
Instructor's Notes - Guard
If you're a beginning paddler, we suggest applying a protective guard on the edge of your paddle. This will help keep the paddle in good conditions and keep you from dinging the rails of your board.
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