We are pleased to present a special guest column by high-end paddle maker extraordinaire, Kitty, of Kitty’s Exotic Paddles, who hand-crafts beautiful, heirloom-quality implements using very rare woods and unique grains.
On FetLife one day, I saw Kitty discussing whether paddles should have holes in them? or not? and why or why not? And I thought, you see, that might make a cool cherry red blog post…..
[FYI–Included in this post are some new and very hawt pro-shot ads for Kitty’s company.]
As always, your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated as always.
Written by Kitty of Kitty’s Exotic Paddles:
The idea of drilling holes in paddles appears to have originated with the traditional schoolroom paddle. Because of this, paddles with holes tend to have a mystique about them, an aura of authority.
But what do holes in paddles really accomplish? What are the good and bad points of this tradition? First let’s look at the medium the paddle is made from and what affect the holes have on that medium.
WOOD: Traditional schoolroom paddles are normally made from wood, oak is the most common wood for this use. If you look at an oak paddle, you will see a straight grain pattern. Everywhere that grain pattern is interrupted, there is an inherent weakness created. In order to overcome this weakness as much as possible, the paddle needs to have thickness.
A thin straight grained paddle with holes isn’t likely to last very long. A wood that has an interlocking grain is more likely to be able to handle the stress, however it is still a built in weakness in the paddle as a whole.
LEATHER: Leather paddles abound, leather is so popular, it has its own sub culture and even family structures named after it.
Leather paddles do not have the same issues that wood paddles have, leather is an interlocking medium.
Latigo leather is the most commonly used leather for strap and paddle making. Latigo is the Spanish word for ‘whiplash,’ its original use, but more commonly it is used in equestrian products as well as leashes and collars for dogs.
This is a strong leather that won’t be bothered (other than by more flex and wear) by holes, especially if the holes are done correctly and finished out.
LEXAN: Lexan is another medium that is very common for paddle making. I’ve heard it said that Lexan will not break, but I have seen paddles that were purported to be Lexan break, so I really don’t know there.
If it were plastic, I would say that yes, the holes would weaken the structure of the paddle and make it more prone to breaking. I would imagine that Lexan would be the same way. This means the same rules apply with Lexan as do with wood, you would want a thicker implement to offset the weakness caused by the holes as much as possible.
RUBBER: I have seen rubber paddles with and without holes. I’ve never felt one and have no intention to start. Rubber is used on tires because of its natural ‘traction’. The way I view that is, the rubber will abrade rather than slide upon contact with the skin.
What is the purpose of the holes? This is my own summation of the purpose, based partly on research and partly on observation.
The holes cause an emotional response of dread and intimidation. The sound of the air flowing through the holes as the paddle is swinging gives the ominous whistling announcement of the impending impact. It is said that the holes lessen wind resistance, but I doubt it lessens it enough to make any real noticeable difference in the impact strength.
The original holed paddles were used on individuals whose bottoms remained clothed. On impact of the paddle, the clothing and the skin beneath went up into the holes to a small extent and created more intense sting, making the paddle a much more effective deterrent to bad behavior.
Paddles with holes used on bare skin sends the skin itself up into the opening of the hole. This causes more skin damage and more bruising than a paddle without holes. The finishing of the holes themselves makes a big difference as to what level of damage is done. The more eased the edges of the holes, the less damage created by the skin going up into them.
The heavier the paddle, the deeper the impact on the bottom and the further into the holes the skin will travel. This doesn’t necessarily make a wood paddle more severe than a Lexan one however, because the edges of the holes on the Lexan can be much more biting than the edges of the wood.
The medium having the least severity is the leather because the leather gives as it strikes and often comes right back up from the skin.
My personal philosophy on holes in wood paddles.. I spend hours upon hours looking for the most beautiful woods I can find, then I spend more hours creating them and making them as smooth as possible, (sanding down to a 4,000 grit).
I am steadfast on my decision to never make holes in the heads of my paddles because I don’t want to damage the beauty or the strength of the paddles I create. I am also of the opinion that a paddle that does as little skin damage as possible, makes it possible to interact much longer in order to either get your point or pleasure across.
The smoothness and slightly pillowed shape of my paddles guarantee that they will produce plenty of sting without the necessity of holes.
For more information, visit Kitty’s Exotic Paddles.