Wood paddles tend to start with the…..wood. Call me Captain Obvious, but in some segments of the population that tends to mean only a few things – because…….why? tradition? habit? assumptions?
The more paddles I build and kits I sell, the more I realize that simple things are what make a paddle work. For me and my experience, those simple things are fiberglass/epoxy on both sides of the paddle blade and a laminated paddle shaft.
Do paddle blades, shaft or handles need to be a certain shape? No.
Is cedar the only wood that you should use in a paddle? No. As much as I like it, other woods work just fine. It’s those simple things, i.e. fiberglass and lamination, that allow for a huge range of options.
And so enters barn board. Let your inner creative out. Tradition is fine. Cedar is fine, but there are many other things that are just as good.
But what about weight?
I think paddle weight is kind of like horsepower ratings for a car engine. It’s a nice sizzle factor used in marketing but…..when was the last time you were on a death march paddle, with life or death stakes, in a race against time?
How about never? Kind of like the last time you floored your car for an extended period of time and miles and really exercised all those horses.
I see paddling as a leisure pursuit, one that I think should be devoid of competitive factors and work place metrics. Like weight.
Build your own paddle. Have fun doing so. Be creative. Feel free to use a design and materials you have not considered before.
Get out on the water and use it.
Odds are it’ll be just fine.