After borrowing a homemade two-piece breakdown from my buddy Loft (for our Deer Creek adventure), I had the inspiration to make my own from one of my old worn-down paddles. Not only did that paddle serve as an additional backup for the group, the two halves were also used to pitch my tarp, and worked extremely well.
Step 1 - Choosing a candidate:
Since this was my first attempt, I decided to pick the most worn of my retired paddles, just in case. This also meant that the paddle was a little shorter than the others, so it would be more likely to fit in different boats. On that note, the finished paddle, like Loft's, would only fit in my Prijon Hercules, not my Mystic. That said, it would probably be possible to cut more of the middle section to make it fit, which I may try if I ever decide to make another.
Step 2 - Cutting the paddle in half:
This step was by far the hardest. Although there was only a slim chance I would ever need to dig into the bench three deep, we were talking about a ~$350 paddle, at least at one point in its life. Once I had come to grips with what I was about to do, it was time to cut 'er in half.
I ended up using a chop saw, which was probably the best tool for the job - although if you don't have one, and you have a steady hand, you could probably do it with a handsaw. Since this was a bent-shaft paddle, I needed to use some blocking to elevate it as well as hold it off the fence, but still keep it square to the blade. Since I have a lot of scrap pieces of wood laying around, this wasn't a problem. Once I had the paddle shaft positioned correctly, the rest went smoothly, with the blade cutting through the shaft like a hot knife through butter.Making the cut. Hope this works out...
Step 3 - Pre measurements:
Now that I had the paddle cut in half, I could measure the inside diameter (I.D.) of the shaft to determine what size sleeve I would need to join the paddle back together with. It appeared that Warner also uses a sleeve when they factory join the paddle into a one piece. Since you can't remove it, and since there really isn't a need to, I simply took the I.D. measurement of the sleeve. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was measuring about .010" over .875", so using a 7/8" tube would probably work great, without any modifications.
(technically the existing sleeve)
Step 4 - Ordering parts:
Once I had the sleeve size, I went to my favorite website (from playing an engineer at work), McMaster Carr, who I knew would have everything I needed. I had already decided that I was going to use aluminum, for its cost, weight, and relative strength properties - it also doesn't rust, which is certainly a requirement based on its use. With the specifications known, I quickly found what I needed and added it to my cart (part# 9056K733)
The next item I needed to order was a bit more difficult, since I didn't know what the heck it was called. "You know, that button thingy you press to lock/unlock the two halves together..." Well, this thing, according to McMaster Carr, is called a "Quick-Release Button Connectors for Telescoping Tubing", which I found for me after typing a couple keywords into the search box. Knowing the wall thickness and I.D. of the sleeve I had just ordered, plus the wall thickness of the paddle shaft, I was able to order the correct one, which for me happened to be part# .