$500 paddle

Greg Nolan

I don't know if anyone has seen the eBay listing for a paddle offered at $499.

eBay item 110447862304

But I think it would be worth looking at the website of Porter's Woodworking, the shop that made the $499 paddle, as part of the research that should precede paying that much money for a paddle.


I have no interest in the eBay item, nor am I connected in any way with Porter's Woodworking (didn't even know they existed until I saw them mentioned on the eBay listing). They do show some nice items that seem reasonably priced on their website.
Seems pretty steep for a used, but not-really-vintage paddle, when you can buy a new one for under $75, from the same company. Wonder if that's a typo?
Gee, that makes the old paddle that I use worth about $10K, considering that it has eight-siding on the grip's sides, a shaft that starts out small and round under the grip and then gradually builds to a lovely oval at the hand position and then becomes a rib down the carefully-thinned blade that slowly tapers out. Plus, it's probably about four times as old and maple. I don't know who made it, but they were awfully good at their job. Bidding will start immediately, but the reserve is very high :) (don't hold your breath). If I ever get run over by a bus or something.....this is one of those things you want to contact my wife about purchasing......


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Reality check

Paul --

The eBay photos of the offered paddle shows what looks to me to be a pretty ordinary, if well made, ash paddle with a standard grip and an OT script decal.

But the hyped descriptive language -- "specialty ordered," "the Contracted Woodmaster of Old Town Canoe" " fine ash with spectacular graining" "super light" [is 1 lb. 12 oz super light?] "The woodmaster formed and carved this particular piece of ash, around the direction and width of the wood's grain and by using his expertise, skill and craftsmanship he made this paddle extra strong" -- suggests that the seller has an unusually high opinion of this particular stick.

All of which indicates that the listing price is not a typo.

That it was "specialty ordered" does not mean that it was "custom made" -- and even custom made means little if it not made for the potential buyer -- it would be to short for me, for example.

A bit of perspective -- Alexandra Connover custom made (after a discussion of the kind canoeing I do, my paddling style, my size, and my intended use for this paddle), a gorgeous northwoods style paddle, completely by hand, for about $200 five years ago.

Most of Porter's Woodworking paddles list in the $50-$65 range, with one or two listed as high as $85-90.
Oh, the seller may very well hold the paddle maker's skills, and the paddle itself, in high esteem. OR... could he be pulling a snake-oil salesman's pitch? It looks to me like a case of Buyer Beware.

I just don't see anything in the picture that jumps out at me & screams that this paddle is anything out of the ordinary. I'm only speculating, but I don't think he paid more than routine list price for the paddle when he bought it... or if he did, somebody may have sold him a bill of goods.

Given that this was made in a production shop, I think the probability of it being truly hand made is remote, at best. Routers, jigs & fixtures probably played a big part of the stock removal, and then a large belt sander was used for the majority of the rest of the work. Hand tools were probably used in pretty limited capacities.

Beyond that, what makes a one-piece ash paddle "super strong?" Does it have a titanium truss rod? Or is the grain simply oriented in the proper direction, to avoid splitting the blade off the shaft, that makes it "super strong?" Looking at the grain on the blade, I'd say the latter is most likely true. Does that make it worth $500? Not to me! The same goes for all of his sales pitch lines; it all sounds to me like something from a really bad TV commercial. There's no shortage of marketting hype, but any substance behind it is not visible.

I agree with you on Porter's Woodworking products on their site -- stuff looks nice, and they're reasonably priced; I could be convinced to buy some things from them. That's all the more reason I suspect some charlatanism here!

If he thinks this one's worth $500 used, I'd really like to sell him one of my own hand-made paddles; you can see pics of some of them in earlier posts on this forum. My mother thinks they're simply incredible; I'd describe them as nice, but not particularly top-shelf. And they weigh less than 1lb 12 oz.

Knowing what goes into a hand-crafted, custom-made paddle, I think your $200 one was reasonably priced, and I have no doubt it's been worth every penny, and more. But $500 for a used 20+ year old paddle? I want to know who pays that, so I can sell him some of mine, too...:rolleyes:

Like I said above, Buyer Beware.