I've read a fair bit about different woods and their characteristics, which for the most common seem to range from most durable/heaviest/harder-to-work to lighter/easier-to-work/less durable with something like: ash > maple > cherry > sassafras > spruce > western cedar, at least among the more common woods. What I'd like to understand is how that translates into use. I'd like a paddle I can use for lake and slow river travel. I'm not planning on running rapids or non-stop poling with it, but from time-to-time have the need to push off rocks, logs, gravel and sand bottoms, etc., and maybe even push over a short shallow spot or low beaver dam. How much do the above woods need to be babied, assuming a standard oil or varnish finish (no fiberglass)? Is ash overkill if I'm not running the Allagash? Is sassafras too frail to push off with at all? I have it in my head that softer woods should only ever be used in deep water - is this true? How soft is soft enough that it should never touch rock? What paddles (woods) do you actually take on the water with you for regular use?