Some think that cutting a stand up paddle to the correct length is a bit of a dark art, but with the easy steps below you will be ready to go with a paddle that is exactly the right length for you.
So what is the correct length – some people say 6 inches taller than your head height, others say 10 inches – so what is it to be ? Well it depends, sorry for the slightly woolly answer ! The way I do it is as follows:
- My personal preference in terms of paddle length for surfing is 7 to 8 inches above head height (any longer and I find it throws my balance to one side).
- I put some electrical tape around that point on the paddle shaft.
- I put my SUP board on something like a packing case, that allows me to stand on it and work the paddle action making sure that the blade is able to go into where the water line would be and it is neither in too deep or not deep enough. Adjust the electrical tape to suit.
So why do I go through this process ? Because I have learn’t that some boards are thicker than others and some paddles have a different shaped blade, so the best test is to stand on your board and get a feel for what is exactly right for you. Making changes after the expoy glue has set is not such a great option !!
REMEBER TO ADD THE LENGHT OF THE HANDLE TO YOUR SUMS. If you want a paddle eight inches taller than your head height and your handle adds four inches to the overall paddle lenght then you only need to measure four extra inches over head height on the shaft. Check first, use electrical tape, and check it again. I have seen what happens when a paddle has been cut too short and it is not pretty.
What tools will I need ?
- Tape measure
- Epoxy glue (I use Araldite Rapid and it has not let me down yet !)
- Electrical tape
- Hack saw
- Some wet and dry sand paper
- Stanley knife/craft knife
- Work bench with a vice
Whats next ?
So you should know have chosen the length of your paddle shaft based upon either the scientific method above, or your own method. You need to mark the cut point on the shaft and wrap electrical tape around the point where you are going to cut, so that you cut the tape as well as the shaft. Why do you do this ? Because some shafts are carbon they can splinter when you get to the end of the cut, the electrical tape holds everything together and prevents most splintering in my experience.
Time to be brave and put the first cut in, no going back now ! Keep your cutting steady and measured and make sure that the cut is, as much as is possible, 90 degrees to the length of the shaft, it prevents you having to do alot of sanding later.
Almost there…when you get to the last few strokes of the saw be very careful, take quick short strokes as this will help prevent the carbon splinters/fraying, long strokes in the same direction can "drag" the fibres away from the shaft and pull back a splinter/fray.
Phew you are done ! There should be minimal splinters/frays and it should be nothing that you can’t sort out with some wet and dry sandpaper.
First bit of sanding is to make sure that the cut is a flat as possible and to remove and frayed carbon. I run the wet and dry around the inside of the shaft as well to remove any internal frays.
Once that is looking tidy, if your paddle handle goes over the outside of the shaft you need to gently roughen off the shaft where it will sit to allow the glue to get the best possible hold, if you handle slots into the shaft gently rough up the inside of the shaft for the same reasons.
Glue time. Make sure that all the surfaces that you are going to stick together are free from dust, are dry and clean. Mix the glue, if you use Araldite Rapid you have about 3-4 minutes before it goes off, so make sure everything is ready first. Put liberal quantities of the glue on both the shaft and the handle, make sure that the handle is going on the correct way round (I kid you not !), and put the two pieces together. Different handles work in different ways, but I visually check that the handle is sitting straight and inline with the paddle blade, once I am happy I stand the paddle vertically into the vice on the work bench and make sure that the handle is not leaning against anything that might knock it off centre.
After about five minutes the Araldite will have gone off and it will be robust enough for you to trim off any excess glue that has leaked out, I use a stanley knife for this.
Now I put the paddle back into the vice and leave it over night for the glue to fully cure and harden.
All finished and the last task is to….
test it !