Technique

Kayak Paddle Stuck Together? This Is How To Get It Apart

Kayak paddle and sun dog

At the end of a full-day of paddling, you load your car, put away your vest and rescue gear. You get ready to put away your paddle, but after you push the spring-lock button, the paddle won’t split apart. It’s stuck. Likely, a barely-noticeable, fine sand found its way into the connection before you joined the parts together. With luck on your side, the paddle comes apart when you tug on one end and a friend tugs on the other. On a normal day, it feels like someone super-glued the paddle together. When it feels like glue keeps your kayak paddle stuck together, break out the hair dryer and a little patience to get it apart.

Unstick a Stuck Paddle

Before you attempt to unstick a kayak paddle, determine what type of connection you have. Most paddles feature a locking ferrule system that slides together and when unlocked twists to change the feather angle, but some paddles, such as Werner Paddles, feature an internal gear system. If your paddle doesn’t have an internal gear system, you can attempt to twist the paddle while pulling on each end. Have a friend hold one end, you hold the other while pushing the spring-lock button. Twist and pull. This might work. If it doesn’t or if your paddle uses an internal gear system, get out the hair dryer.

 Kayak Paddle Stuck Together? Get the Hair Dryer

Heat here on a kayak paddle stuck togetherSome paddles just won’t come apart. Pulling harder won’t budge them. At that point, loosening the joint helps. Because things expand when heated, you heat the joint just enough to expand the female side while keeping the male side cool. It’s important to heat the correct side of the paddle. Heat up the side that has the lock or spring-lock button on it, and heat up a distance that’s at least as long as the male end of the ferrule. See the picture (click it for a larger view).

On the first go, heat the paddle with a hair dryer for about a minute. Spin the paddle to evenly heat everything. After a minute, attempt to pull it apart. If that doesn’t work, try heating it for another minute, and then another. If it’s still stuck, wait for it to cool down. Then, try again.

Afterwards

So, your kayak paddle stuck together. You used a hair dryer. It came apart. Now what? Don’t put it back together until you rinse it off. If you rinse in off on the beach, you risk suspended sand penetrating the joint again. Use water from a tap or your water bottle to wash the sand off the male side of the ferrule and out of the female side. Let it dry, then run your hand along both sides of the joint to check for sand. If it feels gritty, wash it again. Next time you put the paddle together, don’t rinse it in water from the beach and don’t drop the ends in the sand before putting it together. If you do, wash it with drinking water before joining the two sides.

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24 comments

  • Here are things that work for me:

    1. Soak the paddle in ice water where the two pieces meet. The slight shrinkage provides just enough separate to aid in pull them apart. Be sure of course to pull straight out (don’t twist).

    I am a little leery of applying heat to carbon fiber shafts. Not to say you are wrong, but Werner for one does not recommend this. It could distort the machine matched splits.

    Once the pieces are apart:

    2. If the paddle has a button release a la Werner, use a flat tipped screwdriver inside the split to *gently* ease the spring release & lever the button back up. Do 6 or so times, always gently and smoothly. This is a good way to let grains of sand & grit drop down, ready to be flushed out.

    3. Now hold the female end (w. the button release) directly under a tap. Run water. A good sign is water running out around the button. If not, there’s still cleaning to do.

    4. Using a wooden chopstick on the button, press down. If it is seated clean, it’ll spring back up.

    These tips come from Danny Mongno of Werner Paddles:

    Store paddles w. the ferrule butts up. Do bag your paddles, however simply, to keep dirt & grit out.
    NEVER apply silicone or similar product to “grease” the split ends… the best thing to do is to wash out in undisturbed water at the takeout (if you can). Plunge the butt ends in & rotate fast in small circled.

  • Hi, Deborahde,

    Thanks for adding your ideas. I have a few critiques and an answer for you.

    I find icing the connection suspect. Icing the connection would actually shrink the composite and make it harder to pull apart. As an experiment, I just put ice on the connection, and it made it harder to pull apart.

    If your button is stuck on a Werner paddle, number 2 is a great idea. My middle finger is actually long enough that I don’t need to use a screwdriver. I also like to hold it under water as I move the button, which allows water to lubricate and move any grit out of the button. For number 3, you’re right, but you’d have to have a ton of grit in there for water not to flow, so I’m not sure that it’s a good gage, plus even when clean water doesn’t flow quickly out of the button. The button is clean when it springs back without any resistance. Even a few bigger grains can create a problem and water would flow fine around those grains. With spring clips, you can just remove them, clean the holes and then put it back in. In my experience, buttons don’t jam as often as paddles get stuck.

    As far as heating up the carbonfiber, it’s not an issue as long as you don’t heat it to the point where you can’t touch it comfortably. You just need to heat it up so that it’s slightly hot to touch. Almost like if you left a carbon paddle out in the sun. Don’t use a heat gun, because it’ll get too hot. And only apply the heat as I directed above. If you follow those directions, it won’t get hot enough to distort any connection. It’s just not going to happen. Do you have a link to where Werner states not to do this?

    Actually Danny and Werner recommend storing “your paddle hanging apart with blades up.” Check out this video for more info.

  • I recently had my Brasca 4 wing paddle stick together.
    I had dropped my paddle in the water, very salty water,
    maybe it was sand and salt in there?
    then during the course of a couple of days maybe it dried out forming salt crystals? …..
    I didn’t notice the paddle was stuck until it was time to load up into the car …
    I did the two person trick, that didn’t work …..
    It got it twisted just enough that I couldn’t use the paddle,
    so now I had to get it apart!
    or worse, cut it apart and then add in an adjustable insert later.
    I tried the hair dryer, icing, both ……
    I used WD40 ……..
    finally I asked for help and did the two person pull again.
    Success! but it was still very tough going ….
    but I wasn’t going to put it back together again right away.
    grooves were now etched into/onto the shaft pieces,
    so I took some very fine sandpaper and smoothed it out first.
    then it went back together nicely again.
    I only tape my paddle together, no spring clips/buttons ….
    you’d think the tape would help keep the gunk out huh? nope.
    Anyway, I’m really glad to have my wing paddle back again!

    • It’s a frustrating experience. The last time it happened to me, I had to get it unstuck right then, because I was taking a ferry and they required breaking the paddle and storing it in the cockpit.

  • How often do you carry a hair dryer with you on a trip???

    • Funny! I can think of a few ways of doing it on a trip, but I’ve never tried, so I can’t recommend one, but you could heat up water and pour it over the joint.

  • […] haven’t had any problems with the ferrule other than the typical sand jams. I just used the hair dryer method of getting a jammed paddle apart to fix the […]

  • During the winter i had a hand injury, and put my werner paddle together to see if i could grip it ok, which i could! unfortunately, i neglected to disassemble the paddle and last week (3 months later) i tried to get the paddle apart and it was very stuck. i tried the hairdrier to no available, but read about soaking the paddle, if possible. I have a small swimming pool, which still had its winter cover on. i put the paddle under the cover, with some small weights to keep it somewhat submerged and voila, 24 hours later i took it out, pushed the button and it just slid apart!

  • I bought a Werner Carve 2-piece SUP paddle for a bargain price due to what seemed like a death grip on itself. It was STUCK. Tried most of the tips listed above, and nothing helped. Even tried using a rubber mallet on the grip to jar it loose. No help. Logically, the hot/female, cold/male system seemed like it should eventually work; so I wrapped the female section in a heating pad on “high” setting, and wrapped the male section in a ice pack for about five minutes. Immediately after taking it out, I put the grip end in between two stationary pieces of wood (bed frame supports 2-inches apart in this case), turned the shaft 90 degrees, pressed down the retaining buttons,and yanked like hell. Voila! Didn’t even break anything! Definitely intend to use the soap method for prevention now. Mahalo.

    • Oops, I just watched Danny’s video about caring for your paddle. Forget the soap…! Unfortunately, I did have to yank pretty hard on the paddle to unstick it. Aloha.

  • Weird but I can’t put the 2 parts of the kayak paddle together. Is it best to use soap … some other substance?

    • It might be best to contact the manufacturer of the paddle and see what they suggest. It might be a defect.

      • Thanks to Bryan and Dennis for their ideas on this. Will do follow-ups as suggested.

  • Don, some paddles are married to each other and have serial numbers on them showing they are part of the same paddle. I’ve had friends have a couple of sets of the same type of 2 piece paddle and not know this and they’d get stuck together, that’s if they actually got them together in the first place.
    After mine got stuck it didn’t want to go back together because of the gouges in taking it apart. I use a very fine grade wet/dry sand paper to gently sand both surfaces to make them fit again.
    If this is a new paddle take it straight back to the store!

  • Thanks! Tried the hair dryer method tonight and it worked like a charm. Really appreciate your sharing this tip with us.

    Any ideas on how to get water out of the shaft of a werner paddle?

    • Glad it worked for you. For water in the paddle shaft, you should call Werner. It may be a warranty issue.

      • this is a bit of a dumb question but how do you securely wrap up your paddle to send it to werner and won’t it cost a lot?

        • I’ve shipped paddles in long boxes before. You really don’t need lots of padding. If it’s a warranty issue, the store you purchased it from may send it in for you. A good store would.

  • shipping a paddle? I’ve used a gun case before. I originally got the case to ship motorcycle front forks, and even used it for a gun a time or two!

  • Thought I’d chime in. I have a Werner Camino which, (I thought), I rinsed religiously, and, (I thought), always stored blades up, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While prepping for an upcoming outing, I found my paddle in one piece, shoved into my Native Ultimate 14. Ruh Row Shaggy… I pulled, tugged, grunted, all to no avail. I poked around the Interwebs, in search of a solution, and tried most of them.

    Step One: I tried the various applied force solutions, such as two persons tugging, placing the paddle behind by butt and squatting, etc. No change. I outmass everyone in my household by a considerable margin, which may have played a roll. Rather than separating a paddle, I was just pulling folks off their feet.

    Step two: Having read about the hair dryer trick, (and not owning a hair dryer), I thought I would try hot water, instead, applied to just the female end. I tried the shower, with no change, and I tried carefully pouring boiling water over the female end. Other than some odd grey discolorations running the downward length of my paddle, no change.

    Step three: I read on here about a combination of heat and cold, and not having an ice pack or a hot water bottle, I improvised. I used a pair of cam buckle straps to hold the male side blade to a tree in my front yard. I tightened the paddle down till it was jutting straight out. The paddle was in full sunlight, so it did warm up quite a bit. I filled a grocery bag with crushed ice, sprinkled in some water, and wrapped this around the male end. Then I pulled with all my might.

    “Pop!”

    The paddle came apart, and there was much rejoicing.

    I have since cleaned out all the nasty crud which I should have cleaned out following my last trip.

    Lesson learned? An ounce of precaution saves a pound of cure.

  • I just had this problem. I used my car to pull the two shaft ends apart. Tied the paddle to a post, and to my car, and accelerated very gently. There were two distinct pops and then it was loose enough to wiggle free.

    The blades are on tight, I don’t think you’ll pull them off. The paddle will come apart.

    Don’t be afraid. First gear, it’s all right.

    • Thanks for the comment and I’m glad that your system works for you. I wouldn’t recommend this though.

Comments are closed.