Do Kayak Paddles Come Apart?

Today’s kayak paddles are not your grandad’s idea of what a boat paddle is. When we talk about paddles today we say things like “impact-resistant fiberglass” and “drip rings.” Aside from the tech, storage options are important too, such as one-piece or detachable paddles.

Do Kayak Paddles Come Apart?

Kayak enthusiasts will argue all day about which is preferable, a one-piece or a detachable kayak paddle. Not all kayak paddles detach. If it has what’s called a “ferrule,” it will break down into two pieces. If there is no ferrule, it’s a one-piece kayak paddle.

Paddles are the mainstay of any kayak—you have to be able to propel yourself through the water after all—and companies are always trying to figure out new ways to one-up their competition. Fortunately, that spells good things for kayakers.

If you’re in the market for new kayak paddles, you may be confused as to which type is best for you. What’s the difference between a one-piece and two-piece kayak paddle?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the different types of paddles and which come apart and which don’t.

What Is A Ferrule On Detachable Kayak Paddles?

The word “ferrule” doesn’t just apply to kayak paddles. The ferrule is the point at which two, separate shafts come together and connect. The connection type is irrelevant to the definition of what a ferrule is. The ferrule is only specific to the connection point.

So, knowing that two-piece kayak paddles will always have a ferrule, how do these shafts connect, and are there any benefits or drawbacks with a given connection type? 

Two-piece kayak paddles are often hotly debated in kayaker circles that involve the term, “feathering.” Feathering is the adjustment of one blade so that it is at a different angle than the other blade. 

This plays directly into methods of connection as the connection dictates the level of control a kayaker has over feathering.

  • Internal Component Ferrule: These are common and similar to putting together tent frames or IKEA furniture. A depressable button on the male end snaps into a pre-drilled hole in the male end. Multiple positioning features allow you to twist the shaft to feather the paddles.
  • Collars and Rings: Similar to the internal components except for the lock features are low-profile and located on the exterior of the female end of the shaft. 
  • Lever Action: A lever is used to clamp the male shaft into place once it’s inserted. Release the lever to spin the shaft and change the angle of the paddles.

Detachable kayak paddles aren’t only for storage purposes, although that is a happy side-effect. 

Not every kayaker prefers to angle their paddles, however, it’s a beneficial technique for paddling against the wind or to reduce the strain on your wrists over long-term kayaking. 

When paddling upwind, angling the blades allows the kayaker to paddle through the water with the flat of the blade, but the moment they raise it, it’s angled into the wind, reducing wind resistance on the paddle. 

It’s also beneficial over the long term since you don’t have to use as much wrist power to twist the blades so that they are flat against the water, maximizing your push. 

What Are The Drawbacks With Two-Piece Kayak Paddles?

There are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before choosing a two-piece, kayak paddle. None of them are make or break but something you should be aware of, such as snagging, weight, and the potential for sticking. 

Two-piece kayak paddles are beneficial in a lot of ways. For one, you can adjust the angles for feathering and adjust them back when necessary. Secondly, they make for easier traveling since you can take them apart for quick and easy storage. There are some drawbacks, however. 

  • Weakness at the Joint: It is a connection point after all, instead of one, solid piece and is, therefore, more susceptible to damage and more prone to snapping than a one-piece paddle.
  • Snagging Risk: Anything that sticks out has the potential to snag on clothing or other material. Not all paddles are created equal, however, with some having a lower profile than others.
  • Heavier Paddles: Extra components and strengthening materials have to go into the exterior and interior components of the ferrule, which creates extra weight and possibly a bit of a balance issue.
  • Stuck Paddles: It may seem like a rare issue, but spend some time researching two-piece paddles and you’ll discover it happens more often than you’d think.

None of those is a reason to necessarily dissuade you from choosing a two-piece paddle as each kayaker’s paddle is personal to them. What works for you is what works for you.

How To Unstick Your Paddles

There are a lot of, shall we say, “homemade remedies” for separating two-piece paddles that have become stuck. But you’ll want to stick to the basics, such as hot soapy water, lubrication, and heat.

Regardless of what material your kayak paddles are made of, they’re likely to expand and contract, especially with sudden temperature changes. Residue can also find its way in between the moving parts making it difficult to twist for feathering and removal. 

This is also a common problem when you don’t rinse and clean the two pieces. Without a proper cleaning after use, the two pieces can corrode, almost sealing themselves together.

Soak The Ferrule

You can try several concoctions, but the number one suggestion is usually soaking it in hot, soapy water. Soaking it in hot water can help dissolve any residue that may be jamming the two shafts together at the point of the ferrule.

The heat is also good for helping to expand and contract the joints where they come together. Let it soak until the hot water has returned to room temperature before attempting to pull them apart again. 

You can also gently attempt to rotate the shafts. If they’re moving, you’ll likely be able to pry them apart again. 

Lubricating The Ferrule

WD-40 works great for lubricating the joints on just about anything. Try to get as much of the stuff inside where the male and female sections join to try and lubricate the shaft. Spray it, give it a few minutes, then try and rotate the paddles pieces. 

You can also try bicycle chain lubricant, liquid wrench, any kind of household oil you can get your hands on. Whatever you can use to try to penetrate the area within the ferrule to create some movement.

Eventually, the lubricant will work its way down into the two points of connection. If the problem is a matter of expansion and contraction, this method may not be as effective. 

Heating Them Up

Expansion and contraction is a common problem with any materials that connect together. Once the process has occurred, the two pieces can be stuck together more rigidly than super glue or nails. 

This technique requires only a hairdryer. Simply heat the area around the ferrule for a solid minute, on maximum heat, and on high. Set the hairdryer aside and attempt to pry the two pieces apart.

If it doesn’t work, repeat the process. It may seem like a fool’s game but what you’re doing is heating and cooling the ferrule, where the two shafts come together. While you’re in the process of trying to remove it, the material is cooling.

It may also help to try and combine the two methods by lubricating the connection point and then try to heat and cool the paddle. Or giving it a long soak before heating it with the hairdryer. 

When it’s all said and done, with the pieces successfully separated, be sure to rinse off all residue, wash the two sections thoroughly, and towel dry it. Do not put them back together until you are ready to use them again. 

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Boss, P. (N/A). HELP! My Paddle Board Paddle Won’t Come Apart Retrieved from:

Watson, T. (N/A). Kayak Paddles – Feathering and Ferrules Retrieved from: