New paddle disappointment

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I recently ordered a cherry paddle for my wife from an established maker. I have two cherry paddles from this maker and really like them. They have a very fine and flexy blade are light and a joy to use. I believe they were made in the late 90s as that is when the boat that they came with was made. The new paddle while very nice to look at is very heavy, thick, and stiff. I was hoping for a paddle that I'd be afraid to break, not one that I couldn't break if I tried.

Here are some specs:

Weights of my old paddles are, 66" is 28.64 oz, 60" is 26.17oz. The new paddle is 57" and weighs 31.85oz.

The blade edge thickness on the old ones are .13" or slightly over an 1/8th. The new one is a solid quarter inch.

The shaft is .15" thicker and the grip is over an eighth thicker.

Her previous 57" weighed 23.56. We have another 57" paddle, a vintage Old Town that weighs exactly what the new paddle weighs and deemed it too heavy for comfortable use for her.

I spoke with a company employee and he couldn't really comment because he didn't do the work. He didn't offer any solutions so I asked about sending it back and having it trimmed down. He said they would do that but I had to pay shipping back to them and they would pay to ship it back. I've already paid 45.00 to have it shipped once and assume it would be about the same to ship back to them.

The options I can see are: 1) shipping it back and hope I'm happy with the results, 2) sand it down myself and see what happens or 3) leave it as is and she can use it in whitewater. Anybody have any other suggestions?
 
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I would not pay to ship it back. I've had too many paddles break or become damaged during transit. You may just need time to adjust to the new paddle.
 
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Not a fan of stiff paddles, they need to have some flex IMO. Also, you know that sanding isn't going to fix this issue, that is quite a bit of material to remove and that will require something a lot more aggressive than sand paper
 
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I had a somewhat similar experience last year. My son and I each decided to treat ourselves to new, slightly shorter beaver tail paddles for river use. Both were ash. Mine was 57.25” and weighed 34 oz. His was 60” and 30.2 oz. My cherry ottertail, by comparison, is 64” and only 22.8 oz. My 40+ year old beaver tail, from the same company as the new ones is 59.5” and 30.3 oz. It might be maple. The oldest paddle has 5/16” wide edge. The others are all about 3/16. I called the company and was told that different pieces of wood have differing densities and hence weights,even with the same design. . Mine does look stronger with closer and straighter grain. I have done a little sanding, mostly while treating it with hemp oil, and after using it for a season decided that I really like the paddle. It has encouraged me to work on perfecting under water recovery strokes, which don’t entail lifting it out of the water. The added weight, even vs my cherry ottertail is barely noticeable. I have great confidence in the strength of the paddle in whitewater or rough lake conditions. If I want more of a workout I can revert back to out of water recovery strokes and heft the extra 11 oz each time. I could have returned it for a lighter one but am now glad that I didn’t- love the solid feel when conditions warrant it’s use.
 
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Yes, publish the maker's name here, so we stay away from them.
I spoke with them before I had a scale and calipers so I might call back now that I have numbers to back it up. I know there may be differences due to different wood but I still think there should be measurable standards. It almost seems to me that whoever carved it got lazy called it good before it was done. In other words I think it may be a mistake, or their standards changed. The maker is Shaw and Tenney.

I would not pay to ship it back. I've had too many paddles break or become damaged during transit. You may just need time to adjust to the new paddle.
I'm sure it's possible but I'm not worried about this one breaking in shipment. The paddle is too heavy for me to use so it's got to be too heavy for my wife.

Not a fan of stiff paddles, they need to have some flex IMO. Also, you know that sanding isn't going to fix this issue, that is quite a bit of material to remove and that will require something a lot more aggressive than sand paper
Theoretically I should be able to remove a lot of wood with a belt sander but I might not like the results. If I was carving it I think I would put the knife down at this point.

I had a somewhat similar experience last year. My son and I each decided to treat ourselves to new, slightly shorter beaver tail paddles for river use. Both were ash. Mine was 57.25” and weighed 34 oz. His was 60” and 30.2 oz. My cherry ottertail, by comparison, is 64” and only 22.8 oz. My 40+ year old beaver tail, from the same company as the new ones is 59.5” and 30.3 oz. It might be maple. The oldest paddle has 5/16” wide edge. The others are all about 3/16. I called the company and was told that different pieces of wood have differing densities and hence weights,even with the same design. . Mine does look stronger with closer and straighter grain. I have done a little sanding, mostly while treating it with hemp oil, and after using it for a season decided that I really like the paddle. It has encouraged me to work on perfecting under water recovery strokes, which don’t entail lifting it out of the water. The added weight, even vs my cherry ottertail is barely noticeable. I have great confidence in the strength of the paddle in whitewater or rough lake conditions. If I want more of a workout I can revert back to out of water recovery strokes and heft the extra 11 oz each time. I could have returned it for a lighter one but am now glad that I didn’t- love the solid feel when conditions warrant it’s use.
The paddle is for my wife who is in the bow so underwater recovery strokes don't apply. Besides underwater recovery strokes are much better with an 1/8th blade edge than a 1/4. We are also hit and switch paddlers so that doesn't help. I don't think she will ever get used to the weight, we are at a point where weight matters more than ever. I guess she can use it in WW or take as a spare on a trip but that's not what I got it for.
 
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What model S&T? I have three. Two Northwoods and one Racine. They are my go to.

I was at Raquette River Outfitters a while back and picked up S&T Penobscot and could not belive how heavy and bulky it was compared to my three. I definitely would not have been able to use it.
 
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Since it is for your wife in the bow I can see where it is a pretty serious problem. Mine are also S&T. I think we have 6 or 7 of their paddles and have been happy with them. I would send it back for an exchange, specifying that you want them to select and send a paddle which weighs xx or less oz. and with a thinner blade. If you won’t use the one you have you are losing the approx $200 vs spending $45 To fix the problem. They are a good company and I would be surprised if they wouldn’t work to make you happy, especially if they know that you are a prolific poster on canoe forums. Hope it works out- keep us posted.
 
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Shaw and Tenney builds beefy paddles. They build for Maine canoeists who might use their paddles for anything including holding up a tarp. Their designs are good historical designs but they are not for everyone. The shaft is too big in diameter for me and the paddles are too heavy for me as I am used to a 19 oz paddle. Doesn't make them bad paddles; just not for all.
 
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What model S&T? I have three. Two Northwoods and one Racine. They are my go to.

I was at Raquette River Outfitters a while back and picked up S&T Penobscot and could not belive how heavy and bulky it was compared to my three. I definitely would not have been able to use it.
The old one are a Penobscot and a 1896, which is the same with a different grip. The new one is a Penobscot.

Unbelievable was my thought when I took this paddle out of the box. I wonder if their standards changed or if it's just up to the guy doing the carving and there is no oversite to achieve a standard.

Since it is for your wife in the bow I can see where it is a pretty serious problem. Mine are also S&T. I think we have 6 or 7 of their paddles and have been happy with them. I would send it back for an exchange, specifying that you want them to select and send a paddle which weighs xx or less oz. and with a thinner blade. If you won’t use the one you have you are losing the approx $200 vs spending $45 To fix the problem. They are a good company and I would be surprised if they wouldn’t work to make you happy, especially if they know that you are a prolific poster on canoe forums. Hope it works out- keep us posted.
I would think they would make it right too. I just concerned about spending more money and still not being satisfied. I could understand if the paddle was thick and bulky, but light or thin and fine but heavy. I can't understand why it would be thick and heavy with no flex.

I've carved about 9 paddles. The four I checked were about .17-.19" at the blade edge and I never measured till now, so it's not too hard to be consistent. Anyway, I happily tripped with my own hand carved paddles for a long time. They worked well and there was the pride of having made them myself, but the S&T were so superior in their flex and thinness of the blade I wanted my OL to have one too.
 
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Shaw and Tenney builds beefy paddles. They build for Maine canoeists who might use their paddles for anything including holding up a tarp. Their designs are good historical designs but they are not for everyone. The shaft is too big in diameter for me and the paddles are too heavy for me as I am used to a 19 oz paddle. Doesn't make them bad paddles; just not for all.
I hear you their YC, but their must have been a change in standards at sometime. Also when I placed the order I mentioned it was for my wife and that I wanted it light and fine. We talked about a paddle that you wouldn't want to use in all situations and that it might spend a lot of time on the wall. (because it was too light not too heavy)
 
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I hear you their YC, but their must have been a change in standards at sometime. Also when I placed the order I mentioned it was for my wife and that I wanted it light and fine. We talked about a paddle that you wouldn't want to use in all situations and that it might spend a lot of time on the wall. (because it was too light not too heavy)
S and T has had a problem staffing.. This can be a detriment finding experienced people. They are constantly advertising around here.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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That's a heck of an expensive paddle on the S&T website, and $45 shipping is more than I paid for shipping my hand-carved Bruce Smith ottertail from Ontario.

A too-heavy club is something your wife will never use, and hence all your money will be lost. I'd ask for my money back, eat the shipping, never do business with S&T again, and order one of these 56"-57" in-stock works of art from Bruce Smith. He'll tell you the exact weights.


Or, if you can wait the winter, have him custom make you whatever you want, in the wood and shape you want, and at the weight you want.
 
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I sanded the paddle down yesterday and removed almost 5 oz of wood and got rid of the clunkyness. It took about four hours doing it by hand. I took it for a paddle this morning and I love it and I’m sure my wife will too. It is plenty strong and has enough flex. I could have removed more wood but decided to test the strength first. I think I’ll leave it as is as I planned on getting her a real lightweight spruce paddle in the future. If I was happy with this purchase S+T would have gotten that sale too but not now for sure.

Glenn, I was checking out Bruce’s paddles last night and they look real nice.


E17A3A6D-E833-4AF2-BCC4-23BB5A9C2C5A.jpeg
 

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Al- the paddle looks great! I'm curious as to where you removed the 5 oz, was it mostly in the "throat" i.e. transition from blade to shaft area, or all over? Did you thin down the edges? the whole blade? reduce the circumference of the shaft? What grit sandpaper did you start and end with? While I really like my S&T, I'm sure that I would like it better with a 5 oz reduction in weight. I sanded mine down a little when I got it, but nowhere near 5 oz, more like 1 oz. I got nervous about changing the shape. Thanks for the advice. BTW- did you add the loon?
 
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Thanks Halpc. I seemed to remove wood equally from the shaft and blade as the balance point didn't noticeably change. On the shaft I removed wood from the top and bottom of the oval to bring it down to 1 1/8" to match my other S&T paddles. The width was the same so I left it alone. I removed a lot of wood from the blade, the side with the loon engraving ended up being a little thicker because I didn't want to rub it off and it flexes more one way than the other. S&T did the engraving for 15.00 and I was happy with it.

For sand paper I started with 80 grit then 120 and finished with 220. I took enough wood off the grip so it didn't look so clunky but is still a little big. The shaft I brought down to 1 1/8" which seems to be pretty standard for oval ones. I got the blade edges down to about .16" compared to my other S&Ts at .13 and they seem a lot less fragile. I checked the bottom 2/3rds of the blade with a straight edge and it stayed pretty flat in both directions. Then I put two coats of boiled linseed oil on, the first was mixed with turpentine. Usually I would have put more coats of oil on and wet sanded with a 300 or finer but the oil added almost an ounce so I stopped, figuring I could reapply as needed.

I could have removed more wood and made it finer and lighter but I didn't want to weaken it. As it is now I think it is strong enough for a general purpose tripping paddle and light enough to not feel like a burden.

Good luck with your paddle. If you only remove small amounts of wood while checking the strength and flex frequently you should be OK. Also check your blade shape with a straight edge before you start so you can try and keep it the same as you go.
 
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I often come across old paddles of questionable pedigree in junk shops and antique markets. Some are almost useful while others suspiciously resemble oars. Good to know that they could be reclaimed and rescued.
 
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I often come across old paddles of questionable pedigree in junk shops and antique markets. Some are almost useful while others suspiciously resemble oars. Good to know that they could be reclaimed and rescued.
I found a sugar island style paddle on a portage that had a crack in the blade. I took it home and turned it into an otter tail by removing the wood up to the crack and reshaping the blade. It is now one of my favorite paddles.
 
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