Shaw and Tenney - Maine Crafted Since 1858

Inside our Wooden Boat Hooks, Hand-crafted in Maine

Inside our Wooden Boat Hooks, Hand-crafted in Maine

One of the unique products that we make are traditional wooden boat hooks. Shaw & Tenney has been handcrafting wooden boat hooks since former owner Paul Reagan discovered a beautiful antique wooden boat hook on his Sam Crocker designed motorsailer in the 1960’s. Since then they have become a popular item that matches our DNA perfectly.

In recent years we have taken our boat hooks a few steps further (adding wood species, refining the tapered shaft, providing 2 hook finishes and adding a rugged US Coast Guard model) but the overall concept remains true to our roots. Using an old-fashioned design the current S&T wooden boat hooks are made by hand with a tapered shaft and solid brass hook.

classic wooden boat hooks by Shaw and Tenney

At the hook end the shaft starts off at 1-1/2” and tapers down to about 7/8”. This design allows the boat hook to float upright in the water with the heavier hook end pointing directly down and the tapered end of the shaft sticking straight up. With over half of the shaft sticking straight out of the water it is very easy to reach over the boat and retrieve it should it fall overboard.

Our tapered shaft also reduces the overall weight of the hook without reducing the durability or adding too much flex. The weight reduction makes the hook easy to handle on the boat while providing the strength to push off or pull in to a dock or pickup your mooring.

traditioal wooden boat hook by Shaw and Tenney

Traditionally Shaw & Tenney boat hooks where made from native Maine ash and featured a solid brass hook. With many boats using Mahogany as trim we now offer this wood species for our 6”6” and 8’6” boat hooks as well as your choice of a solid brass hook or a brass hook with a chrome finish. We should note that since all of our products are custom and handmade we can create them out of any of the wood species. We often get calls for walnut, cherry or even sassafras boat hooks.

Custom Engraved Boat Hooks by Shaw and Tenney

We also offer custom engraving on all our boat hooks.

Our 12’ US Coast Guard boat hooks are straight shaft boat hooks made from native Maine ash. These hooks are handmade with a USCG standard, 1 ½ inch diameter shaft that is straight, not tapered. A unique feature of our USCG boat hooks is the orientation groove notched into the shaft. This groove is lined up with the hook and allows the user to know the orientation of the hook while it’s underwater. These USCG boat hooks can be found on Coast Guard cutters all over the US and as far away as the Bahamas , Puerto Rico and Alaska.

Shaw & Tenney wooden boat hooks, while very simple in design, are a traditional maritime tool that will look as good hanging over the mantle as they will be tucked neatly under the rail of your boat. Our boat hooks make a great gift idea for any boat enthusiast.


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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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