-- Last Updated: Oct-31-12 10:36 AM EST --
Most of the modern wooden canoe paddles I've seen have a "rock guard" of some kind, and all of mine do. I have the Bending Branches Expedition Plus too, and its rock guard is very tough. My Sawyer paddles have a rock guard that seems to have a fibrous internal structure which is much different than the "hard plastic" appearance of the Bending Branches rock guard, but both materials seem to be indestructible (the paddle will break before you do anything more than put a nick in that edge material). My first bit of advice to anyone wanting edge protection for wood paddles would be to consider this problem ahead of time and buy paddles that already have it.
Graphite is soft, and I doubt if it's used in rock-guard edges. However, it IS used (mixed with epoxy) as a slippery hull protection surface.
Before DuluthMoose left us, he had posted some detailed advice here (with links to photos) about how to make your own rock-guard edges on wooden paddles. That man made some of the finest wooden canoe paddles I've ever seen in my life, and the ONLY home-built paddles I've ever seen having rock-guard edges that looked as good as what the commercial builders do. So, making professional edge protection CAN be a do-it-yourself job. I bet Darryl's paddle-making photos are still posted somewhere, and I may look for them later, but if anyone already knows how to find them, now's the time to chime in.