Shaw & Tenney Paddles and Oars
Paddles and oars have been a staple of the economy of Orono, Maine since 1858, when the flow of the Stillwater River was harnessed to power woodworking tools. Production was electrified in the 1890s, about the same time the Shaw & Tenney brand was born. Not much has changed around the Water Street shop since then. “It’s a really great old business,” says Shaw & Tenney’s Sam Martinelli. “I’m proud to be a part of it—even if that means running circles around the shop and returning emails at the end of the day. Time certainly flies by when you’re having fun.” The company’s traditional canoe paddles are shaped from a single piece of lumber—durable hardwood standbys like ash and distinctive curly maple, cherry, and sassafras. Once a “blank” is cut, expert woodworkers employ experience, eye, and intuition to get the final shape with hand tools and belt sanders, achieving just the right blend of flex, strength, balance, symmetry, and aesthetics that’s a joy to move through the water.
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