What’s so special about oil?
If you’ve ever paddled an oiled paddle you know how silky smooth it feels in your hands. There’s a good reason for this. And I’m sure there’s some drawn-out scientific verb-age I could use to explain it, but put simply it’s the oil in your hands sliding against the oil in the grip that creates the smooth feeling.
Less Friction = Less Blisters
One problem many paddlers encounter after paddling all day, or for some even just around the pond, is the forming of painful blisters. This is caused by unnecessary friction caused at the touch points while repeatedly sliding your hand over the grip. Most folks tell me that this happens most frequently when they’re using a paddle with a very glossy varnish finish. Well, oil is here to the rescue! I’m sure it comes as no surprise that oil will help immensely when it comes to minimizing friction. For the same reason there are all kinds of uses for oil, from oiling bikes gears to oiling a cooking pan, oil on a paddle grip causes less sticking. You’ll definitely be glad if you paddle a lot when those pesky blisters don’t pop up anymore.
Warm it up!
If someone has ever spoken to you the virtues of a wooden paddle over a composite paddle you’ve heard the argument that wood warms up in your hands better than composite. And I’ve found that an oiled grip warms up even better than one that has been varnished. I’m not sure the reasons, but I’d guess it has something to do with less coating in between your hand and the wood. And on a chilly day a warming paddle grip feels so good!
Is it more work?
You might think that because it’s oil it must take more upkeep and that means more work for you. Without going into the talk about paddling gear being a labor of love, I’ll say that upkeep on an oiled grip is pretty minimal. In fact the easiest way is just to paddle all the time. If you paddle enough the oil from your hands will naturally replenish the wood keeping it sealed up nicely. But if you don’t paddle that much and the grip starts to dry a little I’d recommend reapplying the oil finish.
Reapplying oil finish
1. Wipe on penetrating oil finish (linseed/tung/etc.)
2. Wait 10 min.
3. Wipe off excess oil
That’s it! Pretty easy, huh! You can do this as often as it takes to keep the finish up. Also you can quickly sand using a 400-600 grit wet sandpaper in between coats.