What’s in a Bending Branches Canoe Paddle?

bending branches canoe paddle

Here at Bending Branches we take great pride in designing and crafting our wooden canoe and kayak paddles. Our passion and attention to detail result in paddles we believe lead the industry in both beauty and performance.

Here’s a closer look at the woods we use and why we use them. Then we’ll talk about the other materials that go into our wood paddles:

What Kinds of Wood Do We Use?

Basswood, roasted basswood, red alder and maple are the woods we use in all our wooden canoe paddles (and in our wooden kayak paddles). The woods we use are all sourced locally here in the American Midwest.

Basswood is light, quite strong and very consistent in terms of look, density and cost. It makes up a large percentage of our paddles’ construction. Roasting basswood in a kiln gives us another color option that adds beauty and uniqueness to each model.

Maple and red alder are harder, more dense woods that are still light enough to use for our paddles. They add additional strength and color variation.

Finally, all the woods we select have the lowest imperfection rate. This means no rings, stains or stumps. We always use the best pieces of board feet of wood available for our paddles.

making a bending branches canoe paddle

How Are These Woods Used in Each Paddle?

When you go to our Canoe Paddles page, you’ll see that each of our wood canoe models has a unique wood pattern in the blade. As you explore further, you’ll also notice differences in blade size and shape, the type of grip used, and whether the shaft is straight or bent.

These differences give slight but noticeable performance and comfort variations. Some blades are designed for deep, flat water. Others are designed for rivers. Some are perfect for the family cabin, others best for experienced canoe trippers.

One common feature they all have, though—they’re beautiful!

You may prefer a simpler look, like the Loon, or a more striking look, like the Sunburst or Java. You may even love the idea of our newest wood paddle, the Catalyst. In an effort to cut down on waste, we designed this paddle to use left-over wood pieces from our other models. We’re pretty proud of it!

What Other Materials Go Into Our Wood Paddles and Why?

Rockgard® Edge Protection

After each paddle has been cut and glued together into its unique design, the blade is tipped or edged with our patented Rockgard® material. This provides extra reinforcement when you encounter rocks, pebbles, tree branches and other hazards in the water and along the shore.

Our Rockgard® edging can be either black or caramel, depending on the model. To learn more about how it protects your paddle, click here.

bending branches rockgard edging on canoe paddle

Marine-Grade Varnish

After the Rockgard® edging, the entire paddle is dipped in a marine-grade varnish multiple times to protect it from the water itself, and the normal wear-and-tear of use. This is also a patented process.

We prefer Marine-grade varnish over spray varnish because it’s smoother and more comfortable on your hands, it’s thicker, it lasts longer, it has a more consistent finish, and it’s less harmful to use for our employees.

Fiberglass Wrap

Next we use a fiberglass wrap on most of our wood paddles. It protects the entire paddle from dents and scratches, and seals in the wood’s glue so it’s less likely to separate at the joints.

But that fiberglass also adds some weight, so we give you options. If you’re rough on your gear, you’ll want to opt for the 4-ounce fiberglass wrap. If light weight is your top concern go for the 2-ounce wrap. You’ll still get plenty of durability.


Our wooden shafts will be either solid wood or laminate. Laminate is stronger and more durable, so that’s how we craft our higher-end paddles. As already mentioned, we make both straight shaft and bent shaft paddles.

making a bending branches canoe paddle

Wood Kayak Paddles

We also make a few wood kayak paddles. Most of them have carbon shafts so we can keep them as light as possible. The wood blades are treated with the same care and craftsmanship as our wood canoe paddles. They also are treated with Rockgard® edging, marine-grade varnish and fiberglass wrap.

Need help choosing your canoe paddle? Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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