Time-honored, traditional craftsmanship

Maine Made Since 1858

At Shaw & Tenney we are committed to hand-crafting the world’s finest wooden oars and paddles. As the second oldest manufacturer of marine products in the United States we continue building our legacy through time-honored traditional craftsmanship. We make our products just as we did in 1858 – to last a lifetime.

The culmination of over 150 years of experience isn't something that can be weighed or measured. Rather, it's something that's felt and experienced. Whether you are paddling with a cherry Penobscot paddle, rowing with a pair of ultra-light spoons, or admiring an engraved paddle on the wall at camp, nothing feels, performs or matches the beauty of handcrafted solid wood.

Our craftsmen are artists and everything we make reflects a passion for excellence. We are all proud to carry on the Shaw & Tenney tradition, handcrafted in Orono, Maine USA since 1858.

– The Early Years –

Shaw & Tenney has operated in the same small town in Maine for its entire history.

In 1858, the Orono Manufacturing Company began making oars and paddles using water-powered machinery in a shop on the banks of the Stillwater River. Shaw & Tenney was formed in the 1890's when Frank Tenney merged Orono Manufacturing with the Boston-based George Shaw Company.

The Main Street shop. Circa 1938

With the advent of electricity the company moved into a new facility on Main Street. In 1950 Shaw & Tenney relocated to its current location on Water Street and remained under the ownership of the Tenney family until the 1970's. 

The shop gets electricity. Circa 1890

Equipment still in use today. Circa 1890

In 1978, the company was purchased by Paul and Helen Reagan who broadened the product line and expanded Shaw & Tenney into the retail marketplace.

– Shaw & Tenney Today –

In 2003 we became the third family to own the company. We are stewards of the Shaw & Tenney brand – through an unwavering commitment to quality design, materials, craftsmanship and customer service that’s second to none.

We have expanded our product line to include boathooks, masts, spars, flagpoles, and full complement of marine hardware.  We custom engrave many of our products for awards, recognition, and art. Additionally, we offer select products and gear that complement our products. They are all made in the USA and are items we use and trust. 

Today we make our products using much of the same machinery we did in 1858. What make our products so special are our skilled craftsman, the wood, and our commitment to quality. Perfection is the goal, and if a product has any defect, no matter how small, it becomes a “second.”

Everyone here at Shaw & Tenney is passionate about our craft and being on the water. We love what we do.

We are always happy to share our knowledge and expertise with you. Feel free to call or e-mail anytime. Until then we’ll see you #onthewater.

~ Steve Holt and Nancy Forster-Holt

How to Size Your Oars

To determine the correct length oar for your boat measure the distance between the port and starboard oar sockets. Then apply the Shaw and Tenney oar length formula to determine the oar length that will provide the correct 7:18 leverage ratio. This length will provide an oar where 7/25 the length is inboard of the oarlocks and 18/25 of the oar is outboard of the oarlocks. It is the ideal ratio to row almost all boats. Sized correctly, when rowing your hands will be 1 to 3 inches apart and you will be pulling directly towards your abdomen. If you are popping out of your oarlocks when rowing your oars are far too short. If you prefer an overlapping grip, add 6” to the calculated oar length. If you have more than one rowing station in your boat, measure both. Typically they will require two different length oars which is fine if you’re going to be rowing tandem and need two sets. Otherwise you’ll need to compromise the correct length to work properly in both stations. If you are rowing more than 75% in one station size the oar to that length. As always feel free to call us and were happy to help you select the correct oar length and blade style for your boat.

The Original Shaw & Tenney Oar Length Formula

To help our customers size their oars correctly, we’ve been using the same formula since 1858: Measure the distance between the center of the port and starboard oar sockets, which hold the oar locks on each gunnel. This is called the “span” between the oarlocks. Divide the span by 2, and then add 2 to this number. The result is called the “inboard loom length” of the oar. Multiply the loom length by 25, and then divide that number by 7. The result is the proper oar length in inches. Round up or down to the closest 6” increment.

How to Size Your Paddle

For traditional wooden paddles the ideal length for the Stern paddler is the bridge of your nose or 6 inches less than your height. For the bow paddler the paddle reaching the cleft of your chin or 9 inches less than your height is correct.

For our Racine paddle if you are over 5’6” tall select the 63-1/2” length and the shorter paddle if you are under5’-6”tall.

When paddling solo we typically recommend a bow length paddle. For Canadian style solo most paddlers prefer an even shorter paddle.

For paddling canoes when standing (yes our mother let us do this) a 69 inch or 72 inch paddle is usually about right.

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© 2017 Shaw & Tenney, Inc.