How To Customize Your Paddle

About Style, Length, Feather, Aesthetics...

What does it take to get a paddle custom built for you?  There are some aesthetic and structural choices- beyond just the choice of a blade design.

Blade Design

My Blade Shapes are multi-funtional but some apply better to certain missions than others do.  Consider where you will be paddling the most as a priority. If you’re surfing a lot be sure to check out my articulated shapes~ The Riot Styk and the SO Terrik.  There’s lots of big blades to look at also- starting with my Racing blades.

Length

Your paddle length affects your stroke rate. You want to dial it in like a gear on a bike- not too much traction but a nice flowing rate.  If you’ve never thought about your stroke rate much you might want to read my Stroke Theory essay. You can also find commonly used lengths here.

Feather

The paddle’s ‘feather’ is how one blade references to the other.   In the old days peope used 90 degree feathers to limit the effect of wind on the upper blade.   A while ago people found a lower feather led to a reduced reaction time and 45 degrees became a popular feather.  There has even been experimentation with feathers as low as 0 degrees.  I prefer the 40 degree feather and I would refer you to my essay “The Feather Rap” for futher details on this subject.   But- I’m custom so I’ll make whatever feather you would prefer.

Heavy Duty?

Also- if you will be creeking with the styk I can beef up the strength of the shaft by leaving more Ash wood in it- and less core.   I can also beef up the thickness of the tips and edgings for rocky environments.  And I can even add extra glass (no extra charge) for highly abusive uses like raft guiding.

Aesthetics

The bladewoods also affect the aesthetics and strength of the paddle blade.  Black Willow is the lightest strongest choice for blade woods and is a nice cherry color.  A good light alternative is Basswood- a creamy brown color. If you want to beef up the stiffness and ding resistance of the blade- look to nice white Aspen Fairing strips.  They are a trace heavier but really produce a strong blade.  And you might want to consider veneer pinstripes or even thicker pinstripes~ like 1/4” walnut pinstripes.

And then there is a choice of the bang strip- the outermost piece of wood in the blade.   It supports the edging so it has to be dense. Most of the bang strips get covered with the veneer tips- but you can still see them a little bit and it’s a good place to use showy woods like Curly Maple, Chestnut, Curly Sassafras, Aspen, golden Osage Orange, or Cherry.

Veneers

The veneers for the tips come in a few choices.  There’s a bright white Curly Sycamore from England with intense regular parallel curl.  And there is Tochi Nuki from Japan (Water Chestnnut) featuring heavy duty deep gold color with profound random curly figure.  And then there is a mahogony colored Makore which is also figured- but not wildly.   I also have a deep brown Sapele with exceptional quilted figure that looks like bubbles in the water.   And I have some nice tough Curly Maple and some stripy Zebrawood.   If you might like exquisite marquetry be sure to check out the Gift Veneers made by master paddle builder Taiki Sugawara from Japan.

Single Blade

If you are buying a Canoe or Raft paddle there are choices of woods for the T-grip.  There is Chestnut, Curly Maple, Cherry, Walnut, Curly Sassafras, Cherry Burl and beautiful golden Osage Orange.

RivrStyx are traditionally custom sized for the grip areas based on a tracing of your hand or any other specific measurement or requests you might have.

These are your basic choices.  You might want to start by deciding how heavy duty you want the paddle or how much lightness is an important quality you want.  You can base your bladewood choices on that and then choose the veneers for pretty much aesthetic reasons.

You can fill out all the details about your paddle on the order form available on the Ordering page. And I’m happy to discuss your options with you over the phone as well.  304-329-3310