Return of the Ninja Sticks

black beale greenland paddles

Don Beale created a beautiful wooden Greenland Paddle & Storm Paddle for me some years ago. Back then it was a bit of an odd request for “black”, but Don went to work in his mad laboratory, trying to combine different substances to an oil stain to create a paddle that was black, yet allowed the beauty of the wood to show through. Well, that was then.. After all these years and my notorious lack of regular maintenance, the paddles were pretty much shot. Well, I recently got it in my head to re-stain the old paddles.. 

Now, some 7 or 8 years later, there are black stains on the market that do a pretty good job. The issue with my old paddles is that, well, they are old.  The was wood is well weathered from spending too many years exposed to sun and water.  What I needed was was something that would offer some serious protection. At the same time, I’m not a craftsman in any sense of the word, so I needed something easy.  After reading a bunch of stuff on the web, I decided to use MinWax Polyshades.. to mixed results.


MinWax Polyshades Stain combines oil based wood stain and polyurethane in one “simple” step.  It’s advertised as “highly transparent to highlight the wood grain” and can be used on previously stained wood.  (Well, there wasn’t much stain left in my paddles anyway!)

I spent some time sanding away at my old paddles. I took off the rough edges and smoothed out all the rough bits that they had acquired from years of abuse.  I didn’t take the time I could have with the sanding, but I got the worst of it. Once I was finished sanding, I removed all the sanding dust and got ready to stain the wood. I also tried something different, I used a sponge brush, something I’d read about online but never tried before. Wow!  What a surprise!  The MinWax black is BLACK.  The whole bit about highlighting the wood grain is pure fiction.. Not that I particularly minded, but I was surprised.  For the most park the black MinWax looks like paint.  Still, I did need to use a second coat once the first had dried to even out the color.


I re-stained 3 pieces; A paddle, a storm paddle and my rolling stick. All three items reacted to the MinWax differently. The paddle and the Norsaq both came out quite shiny, while the storm was more matte or eggshell.  They certainly don’t look like new, but they’ve been revived and may be usable for a few more years.

In the end, I’m sure there are better methods to restore your paddles if you have the time and talent. I was not real happy with how thick or dark the MinWax PolyShade actually was, but on the other hand it’s probably a good choice for paddles that have suffered years of neglect. Bottom line? If you don’t have a lot of time, and simply want to make your paddles last awhile longer, MinWax Polyshade will do the job.


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