2024 Renegade Craft Tour! →

Renegade Craft Fair

June 25, 2015

Sanborn Canoe Co.

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This maker feature makes us down right giddy! Today we’re thrilled to be featuring canoe paddle makers, Sanborn Canoe Co. The guys behind these quality paddles will be setting up at our Chicago Pop-Up at The Hideout this weekend! Rejoice!

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Sanborn Canoe Co. is pretty small woodshop nestled in the river valley just south of Winona, MN. After establishing in his friends’ basement, Zak Fellman and company built their own shop space on their families’ land out in the country.


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What’s incredible is everything is done in house at the Sanborn Shop. The crew decided to use cedar for paddle-making for a few reasons – 1. it’s lightweight 2. it’s buoyant and water resistant to rot and 3. it’s beautiful.

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Each paddle is a combination of thin strip that we glue/press together to make a paddle blank. From there each paddle is crafted start to finish by one of the Sanborn craftsman using various chisels/block planes/saws and sanders.

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Each is a work of art and in using tools that are guided by human hands(not computer generated copies) each is slightly different than the other. Sanborn Canoe Co. relies on highly skilled craftsmen.

Shop 1Also each paddle is designed and painted in our shop. After a paddle is finished it then goes to the painting room where each design is painted using spray-paint and scotch tape.
Shop 8Zak and his company are inspired by all of the canoeists that have come before them. Sanborn patterned their Artisan paddle shape similar to paddles the old French voyageurs would have used, with long narrow blades. With 30 men in a canoe they would use these long narrow paddles to take up to 60 strokes a second for 14 hours a day. They would also a lot of the time paint there paddles. In part to seal the wood from the elements and in part to identify their paddle from another. This long and rich tradition sparked Sanborn Canoe Co. to paint their paddles in a similar way.Shop13 Shop14 Wood Hangers 2We are so thrilled to have Sanborn Canoe Co. join us in Chicago for our Pop-Up this weekend at The Hideout! You can find them online here: