Paddle Features

There are a few features of our Oconto Paddles that we would like to draw to your attention.

GripThe Grip
Typically, the longer the paddle, the proportionally larger the grip. Each grip is shaped to comfortably fit in your hand; you don’t have to hold it tight. It is actually designed to fit loosely in your palm so that you really push forward against the grip as you paddle and also rotate it at the end of each J-stroke, reducing wrist strain. All of our paddle styles share the same grip style.  We can customize the size.


The Shaft

The shafts on Oconto Paddles are round. While an oval shaft might be slightly lighter in weight, we feel that the extra strength and comfort gained by slightly enlarging the shaft to a round shape is desired.




The Blade    All of our blades are cambered on both sides. This means that the blade is higher (thicker) in the middle and thins out to each side (tapering). What this means is that there is less drag as the paddle moves through the water, but still allows for a moderate amount of blade flex.  The shape of the blade you choose will also influence the overall flex of your paddle.



The Finish

Paddle Making002We finish our paddles with three coats of very high quality marine spar varnish. The sanding and hand varnishing of a paddle requires a great deal of skill and concentration. It is a critical step in crafting a well balanced paddle. This original finish is very durable and will last for years if you take proper care of your paddle.

Shapes and Sizes

Paddles on CanoeOconto paddles are crafted in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is important to think about the type of paddling that you are planning on doing when selecting the blade shape. The easiest way to determine the right size for your paddle is to measure the distance from the floor to your chin or nose. If the paddle is longer than this, some people find they become fatigued more easily when they are paddling. If the paddle is shorter than below chin level, your reach will be shorter and not as powerful.

Our standard Oconto paddles are crafted in these lengths: 36, 48, 50, 54, 57, 60, 63 inches. Custom lengths are available. The blade area varies, depending on the length of the paddle.

Blade Types

Types-of-PaddlesThe ottertail is our most popular blade shape because it  does it all: tripping, soloing, teaching, fast strokes and slow strokes.  The blade is 5 1/4 inches at it’s widest point.

The modified ottertail is our preferred solo paddle. The blade is a little narrower  than our standard otter shape, only 4 1/2 inches wide. If you are a fast paddler, this is a very efficient blade shape for you.

The woodland blade is popular with paddlers who enjoy tripping all day long. The tight and wide edge on the shoulders maximizes the blade / water contact while the tapering to a narrow tip reduces the “downward” forces at the beginning of each stroke.

The tripper is preferred by canoeists who enjoy a long slow stroke when they are paddling. The width of the blade is the same as the ottertail but you can see that the blade sides are straight and the tip of the blade is wider on the tripper. As a result, this blade produces more power throughout the stroke.

The beavertail and other custom style paddles are available upon request.

Types of Woods

Paddle-Display-1-resizedOconto paddles are crafted from a variety of domestic and exotic woods. Each individual wood species is characterized by a different colour, weight, flex, strength and durability. Below are some examples of woods we have available. 

Birdseye Maple

birdseye-maple-paddleBirdseye maple is one of the most unique and sought after exotic woods from which we craft paddles. It’s very famous “birdseye” grain pattern combines with superior durability and strength to produce a paddle that is magnificent in appearance yet just perfect for a Sunday morning paddle before breakfast. It is about 25 oz for a 57” paddle. Hang this one on the wall and take it off just for those “special times on the water.”

We also feature Soft Maple and Curly Maple paddles.



Black Cherry

Black-Cherry-single-paddleBlack cherry is one of our favourite woods because of its beautiful red grain and its light weight. It is about 21 oz for a 57” paddle – a superb combination of weight, flex and balance. If you love to paddle, a cherry paddle is a must.





Black Walnut


Black-Walnut-single-paddleBlack walnut is an exotic wood that we like because of its dark colour and interesting grain. It is about 24 oz for a 57” paddle – very light and strong for a hardwood. It finishes to a deep brown and is very popular as a gift paddle with light coloured writing or logo. Of course it is great to paddle with.





Special Products

Jan 17016Mini Paddles: Even though these paddles are small (27”), they are still functional as a paddle. They are great for camps that want a traditional award base. Each camper is given a mini with their name on it and as they accumulate camp awards, the respective stickers are put on. When one side is filled-up, a light coat of varnish can be applied to permanently seal on the stickers. These paddles can be made from any of the woods that we use for our larger paddles.

Gifts: Any one of our Oconto paddles are an excellent choice for a gift for any occasion. Cherry, black walnut and birdseye maple are the most popular wood choices for gift paddles. The shape and size is your choice. Christmas, birthday, anniversary  – all we need is a couple of weeks notice. Names, dates and special sayings make these paddles very unique and special.

Trophy Paddles:  Oconto paddles have become very popular as awards in summer regattas, camp sport days, resort competitions and as school or corporate achievement awards. With the Canadian flag on one side, our paddles have been presented as speaker gifts at conferences and included in delegate registration kits. All of these paddles can be crafted from any of the woods we use. Your company, camp or school logo can either be painted on the blade or scanned onto a sticker and put on the blade. We will advise you about this after we have seen your logo. We can also suggest which wood colour will match with your logo.

Paddle Blanks:

Paddle Making006These are partially finished paddles that you complete the wood working yourself and then varnish.  We offer two stages of completion:

Completed to the extent that you shape the grip and the blade as you like, sand and varnish.

Completed so that all you have to do is final woodworking, sand and varnish.

Tulip wood is the most popular wood for completing blanks because it is softer and easier to work with.  All of the other wood types are available but they take longer because of their individual hardness characteristics.  If you are interested in completing your own Oconto Paddle blank, we can provide tips!





Paddle Painting: 

Deer-PaintingNo matter how old or how skilled as an artist you are, painting a paddle for yourself or for someone else is a lot of fun and very rewarding.  We can provide you with any of our crafted length and shape of paddle you like.  You can choose to either paint one or both sides of the blade.   Take into account the colour of the wood you are using and the colours of the paint.  All of our traditional wood types are available.