It all begins with a nice stick of wood - locally sourced of course
Our canoe paddles are made by people who paddle. Together Dylan and Emily have combined experiences of nearly 50 years canoeing. These experiences range from guiding 6-8 week long wilderness canoe trips in places like Labrador and the Arctic Ocean, to Emily starting a canoe tripping program for young girls, to custom building canoes, to restoring older paddles that have accompanied many of the restorations we have done, to simply enjoying an afternoon on the water with family and friends. We know what it takes to make a quality paddle.
Each paddle we make begins in the woods near the shop. Trees are selected from local sustainably harvested forests and then sawn into lumber just a few short miles up the road from our shop. The lumber is then brought back to our shop where is appropriately seasoned for use. Each paddle blank is then chosen for its’ straight grain and pleasing grain patterns. The paddle pattern is traced onto the blank and cut out. From there the paddle goes through a series of shaping until last step of 220 grit sanding.
Woods we use - Please scroll through the above slide show to see images of each species of wood.
Soft Maple – Often an overlooked and underutilized wood for paddles, soft maple is a strong, fine textured closed grained hardwood. It is silky smooth when finished, has excellent wear capabilities and is suitable for any application. Sap wood is creamy white and heartwood is reddish brown. Soft maple is great for any paddle application.
Ash – is a very strong open grain hardwood that produces a very durable paddle suitable for any application. Ash has excellent shock resistance. The grain is even textured. Sap wood is white and the heartwood is light brown in color. Trees grow nice and straight and very tall.
Hard Maple – Hard maple is perhaps the strongest and best wood for a working paddle. Even though hard maple weighs a bit more than the other woods we use, it makes the strongest paddle. We do our best to keep the paddle as light as possible without compromising strength or integrity. Hard maple is a closed grain wood. Sap wood is white and heartwood is a reddish brown. Very similar to soft maple in look and feel, but it weighs slightly more and is a harder wood.
Cherry – Prized for its’ rich deep color, cherry makes a beautiful paddle that is every bit as strong. Many people like its’ rich, warm reddish color and beautiful grain. Cherry is a tight grained wood and is not recommended for use in whitewater.
Spruce – Is a very traditional wood for paddles. We use eastern red spruce which has a very high weight to strength ratio. Spruce makes a very light paddle that is extremely durable. Due to the availability of quality spruce for paddle making, spruce paddles are limited.
Walnut – A rich dark brown color, walnut makes a very pretty paddle. Pleasantly light in weight, walnut is a beautiful material for a paddle. Not recommended for whitewater. Due to availability of suitable lumber, walnut may not always be available.
Tiger/Curly maple – is a beautiful figured wood most often found in soft maple Paddles made from tiger maple are priced individually based on the quality of figure. We only use top quality figure in our paddles from red maple (no silver maple).
Birdseye maple – A figured wood found in hard maple. Paddles made from birds-eye maple are subject to availability of lumber. Because we only use top quality figure, birds-eye may not always be available. It takes a special piece of lumber to produce the straight grain and quality of figure we want for a paddle.
Other specialty woods we use as availability permits are butternut, quarter sawn white oak with ray fleck, curly white oak, curly cherry, and curly ash, and curly walnut. Sometimes these woods are just too nice to pass up and we can’t help the urge other than to make a paddle from them.