White ash for paddle?

I have a chance to pick up a white ash beavertail paddle, but I know little about ash other than it is strong, durable, and heavy; Louisville Sluggers are made of it; and it’s a classic choice for 1-piece traditional paddles. Is there a difference between white ash and any other type of ash? Is white particularly lighter than other varieties (if they exist)? I’d appreciate feedback - thanks!

Excellent choice
White ash is one of the most common paddle woods. It is strong, springy, and medium in weight.

Other ash types were used, no doubt, but white is the most common in the east.

In northern Minnesota I’ve refinished one circa 1950’s style beavertail paddle carved out of black ash for someone. So at least black ash has been used for making one piece paddles. Black ash is a small tree and the resulting lumber has very striking figure to the wood. This results in beautiful grain patterns in the paddle. But it is also a favored wood for making splits for basketweaving, as the growth rings separates fairly easily. This trait might not make black ash a good wood for making a paddle out of. Black ash is not as strong as white ash wood nor does it have the springyness of white ash. I think that these are important traits of a good one piece beavertail paddle and that is why white ash is preferred.

More information on ash
Ash is neat because the different species come in a variety of colors. Look in any tree book, and you’ll find the white ash, black ash, blue ash, green ash, red ash, and pumpkin ash (“pumpkin” is another word for “orange”). It sure makes the individual species easy to identify!


Like you said, heavy. But, otherwise
bulletproof. I have an old favorite “Maine Guide” style paddle that’s been everywhere with me and I love it. These days, it’s not my primary paddle, as I’ve found, with ever-increasing age, that I’m just not willing to swing those extra ounces for prolonged periods.

ash paddle
Over the decades that I used single blade paddles I moved through many paddles, from stiff fiberglass through a number of wood paddles to finally using a ash paddle that I rescued from a flea market. After glueing/filling the cracks in the tip and new varnish it became my favorite paddle of the large collection. I grew to like it’s nice flex, as well as it’s size and shape.

Don’t use it now because after shoulder reconstruction I find a Greenland or Aleutian double blade much easier on my shoulder. However,I still look at that ash paddle with fond memories.


Another Q re. ash paddles
Thanks for all the informative responses. Part of my curiosity is because a fellow on ebay is selling 1-piece ash beavertails, and he claims that a 54" weighs a mere 16 oz. and 60" weighs 24 oz. Does this sound realistic to those out there in the know re. ash? It sounds awfully light to me. Thanks in advance again for insight into this.

I’ve seen the ones, I think, you’re
referring to for sale at the Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville, ME. There are two sellers on ebay offering what I think are the same paddles, from “Dri-K” or something like that. If they are, indeed, the same as the ones I’ve seen, they’re a bargain at $30. They were retailing at $45-$50 a couple of years ago and are faithful reproductions of the old Old Town paddles with that telltale ridge at the blade/shaft transition. Not too clunky and well crafted by somebody who knows how.

As to weight.
I just went out and hefted three of my solid ash paddles. Unfortunately, I don’t have a scale on which to accurately weigh them, but around a pound for the shortest (54") is almost believable. It seems funny, but there can be wide variation in weights of different same-sized boards of the same species depending on the growing conditions of individual trees, moisture content, etc. And sure, it’s safe to assume some “salesmanship” on the part of the seller.

That sounds nice, but I doubt a good ash beavertail would likely be that light.

It could be, but a bit too flexible/thin?

would you believe an ash car chassis?
My first car had an ash frame (mixed with metal framework & “skin”, but floorboards, door & body framework was ash)…I never knew there were so many varieties so I’ve no idea which one.

PS: Can anyone can guess what make? (Hint: they are still in production but very rare)


Morgan +4?
I always thought it was English oak. You lucky SOB! Your FIRST car??? What was your second car?


– Last Updated: Feb-28-09 11:45 PM EST –

...well, almost...it was a '66 4/4 (English Ford Cortina engine instead of the Triumph engine in the +4's). The gearshift "stick" came straight out of the firewall & you pushed & pulled it!

I earned the $2800. to buy it from my paper route & fast food job. No help from mom & dad, but they covered the insurance.

I sold it at a small profit several years later. My second car had real windows, door locks & a roof that didn't leak!

I don't know if the new Morgans still have any wood, other than the dashboards. Using wood (even ash) to build cars is not a good idea...as it aged, I could actually feel that car "twist" when I pulled into my uneven driveway. Not many body shops also do carpentry!

PS: Ashton Mahtin...Goodun, Elmo

I’ve seen ancient trucks made …
largely from wood. It’s funny how people worked with the materials they were most familiar with in those days, rather than investing in the special equipment needed for working with steel. With those old trucks, usually the frame was steel and the body and cab were wood, so restoring them usually involves “building from scratch” rather than hunting for old parts.

For what it’s worth, all cars twist in the situations you describe, but not enough for most people to notice. Roll down the window and stick your finger in the seam (gap) at the rear or top edge of the door and you WILL feel the car twist as you enter driveways. On modern pickup trucks, you can clearly see this twist happening if you look at the gap between the box and the cab. I’ve seen certain kinds of pickup trucks in off-road situations where the amount of mis-alignment at that junction was as great as 8 inches due to frame twist on uneven ground. For most trucks, that twist won’t amount to more than 5 inches of mis-alignment before one wheel lifts off the ground, but that’s still a lot.

I hope you dream of your Morgan
tonight, as I will of my '69 Triumph GT6+ and the times I had with it.

I weighed my 58" ash beavertail today with an old spring-type fishing scale, and it came in @ >< 22-24 oz.

pickup twist
not if you own an uber stiff, Nissan Frontier!

They all twist, but the small trucks …

– Last Updated: Mar-01-09 2:25 AM EST –

...twist less than the full-size trucks (the longer the frame, the greater the total amount of twist that will occur). The old S-10 I used to drive for work would twist enough to displace the box-cab alignment by about 1.5 or 2 inches, but only when negotiating a much more severe off-road diagonal step than the average person has ever driven across. Most of the time the average person would assume that truck had no twist, but it was there if you paid attention (and almost nobody does).

The newer full-size trucks twist a lot less than the many of the ones made in the '80s on average ("on average" because Ford's and GM's most flexible frames were not made during exactly the same time period), "heavy-duty" versions from Ford and GM twist less than their standard counterparts, and trucks from the "old days" also twist a lot less than trucks from the '80s (except there was never a period of time when Dodge trucks were more flimsy than other times). The all-time most-flexible truck ever made was the last run of Ford F-100s (which in earier years had been very robust), which were so flimsy that a person standing in a rear corner of the bed would deflect the cab-box alignment by about an inch or even more (that model truck had a long series of 5-inch holes in each frame rail, probably to reduce cost and weight, but it severely weakened the frame).

Frame twist cannot be eliminated in a two-rail design, and it also is not usually a bad thing. The Mercedes Unimog is one of the most rugged small trucks that has ever been made, but the frame of that truck is actually designed to twist, and the body is mounted to the frame in a way that permits the frame to twist more freely than in normal trucks, because doing so enhances the off-road capability (it adds to the "effective" amount of suspension travel available when the truck is perched diagonally across a big elevation change).