My sawmill-owning buddy & I are probably going 1/2 on 2000+/- board feet this Fall so get a paddle made this winter and let me know how you like it. I'll, most likely, be returning for the Marshall Lakes Loop in 2024 & don't mind throwing a couple of boards on the Ranger.
The Sassafras seem to be dying off here as the Ash & Elm are so I'll stockpile a little. (might have found some red elm also)
I have paddled my Shaw and Tenney sassafras paddle ( the guide model I think ) for 2 years now. It has a larger blade surface than I thought I cared to pull through the water. I ordered it unfinished and oiled the entire paddle with badger oil after wood burning a quote on each side. I did the old method of one coat a day for a week, one coat a week for a month ....
It did not take long for the wood to mellow into a really nice brown color. The oil finish is excellent in both durability and how it feels in my hands. After a long trip. or a rough day on the Wisconsin River, I re-apply a thin coat and it is new again. It flexes enough I can notice a difference at the end of a day ( shoulders and elbow happy ), but still has has enough stiffness to propel me against current up river nicely ... not too noodely. As to the large blade surface ... it is real nice, not too big at all. Also, it has excellent underwater recovery and the guide stroke is so easy. I really like the grip area where I can move my hand up and down when I get tired. Also, on the Wis. River, I can slide my hand down for a "shorter " paddle near sand bars and in deeper water I can place my hand on top for a deeper entry.
The flex of the blade and to some extent the shaft just feels better to me over my ash or cherry paddles on longer days in current or battling wind, especially as I get older.
Thanks to the tip from lowangle Al re the Badger sassafras tripper available at the Adirondack shop, I now have one. However shipping from ADK’s was over $100 and the owner suggested trying a closer shop. Rutabaga also had a 57” Tripper and a special offering free shipping. It arrived last Thursday and I took advantage of a break in the weather to try it out on Friday. it is a gorgeous paddle and weighed in at 17 ounces (sorry Al). It paddles beautifully with both normal and underwater recovery strokes. I was a little worried about the strength, given the weight compared to my favorite ash S&T (33 oz) and Al’s 22 oz for the same size. But it performed great at “full throttle “ in deep water. It is pictured below in my Phoenix and next to my Shaw & Tenney. The latter will probably be relegated to WW and shallow water use.
Good deal on that one Hal and I’m glad I stirred up some business for Badger.
On one of my most recent paddles I compared my 57” Badger Tripper with a 57” Shaw and Tenney cherry beavertail. It didn’t take long to decide that I preferred the Badger for a more comfortable stroke, and it didn’t seem to be the 5 or 6 oz. Difference in weight.