The Wood I Use
Black Cherry (hardness of 950 lbf)
...is the most popular choice of wood for a canoe paddle, especially for serious canoeists and trippers. It's strong, yet light, very resistant to splitting, and flexible. It has amazing grain patterns, attractive, unique, with few flaws and red colours that deepen into rich shades over time. Black Cherry stands up well against rot and moisture damage. It is also an excellent choice for cedar canoe gunwales, seats & thwarts.
Black Walnut (hardness of 1010 lbf)
...is also a favourite because of its uniqueness, dark colour, and interesting grain. It is not as flexible as Black Cherry and therefore not as suitable for rigourous canoe tripping. It does however, make a beautiful paddle and is a popular choice for the recreational canoeist.
Maple and Ash (hardness of 1320 - 1450 lbf)
...make very tough, durable paddles. These are heavier woods so I carve these paddles a little thinner to try to compensate. Although these paddles will still last many years, they must be maintained and cared for properly as they are slightly more prone to water damage on the blade and tip over time, than cherry or walnut.