My subject for American Faces #60 is Greenland Paddle maker Ben Frontenot of BF Paddles. Ben is a man of many interests and always ready for an adventure; he is a sea kayaker, videographer, coach, influencer, and craftsman. This young, driven craftsman who is passionate about the outdoors has a personality as warm as the cedar wood he crafts into paddles. His shop in St. Paul, MN is tidy and filled with the aroma of cedar which made for a great aesthetic. To tell you the truth, I was quite content to stay and marvel at the Greenland paddles that were in rough-out form as well as the beautifully finished ones ready for shipping. As I chatted with Ben, I could hear his passion for paddle making as he spoke of his approach to crafting a custom paddle from a clear cedar 2”x4”. Curls of cedar form from the block plane as he pushes it along the wood surface of the rough-cut 2x4 to uncover the paddle within. As he continues, the loom (handle) is custom hewn for each paddler. The final steps of sanding and finishing bring out the rich color of the cedar in each 21-31 ounce paddle.
When I left Ben’s shop that day I felt as though I made a new friend, mentor in my kayaking, and a craftsman who is creating Greenland paddles that have old world charm with usefulness and precision for today’s adventures.
Check out Ben's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPniiAu9jIR-06sUGJ8QUzw
Email me for a 10% dayrate discount off a future project.