Every one of Sanborn's wilderness class canoe paddles comes with an unfinished paddle grip. We recommend oiling this before use and keeping up a good oil finish to extend the life of your paddle. Here's a few reasons why we do this, and instructions on keeping up a good oil finish.


If you’ve ever paddled an oiled paddle grip 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.

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.

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 warm paddle grip feels so good!


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/or the grip starts to dry a little I’d recommend reapplying the oil finish.


1. Wipe on penetrating oil finish (linseed oil, tung oil, etc.).

2. Wait 10 minutes.

3. Wipe off excess oil.