The Kinkery

BDSM Safety Tips: Wooden Paddles

image of wooden paddle with holes on side of bed in sepia tones to indicate safety tips for using a paddle

Playing with a wooden paddle for the first time? While they may be a “basic” toy for many people, that doesn’t mean there is no risk involves. (Pro tip: All BDSM activities carry some level of risk.)

Before you buy (or before you play for the first time), keep these safety tips in mind so both of you have a good time.

Consider Weight, Size, and Type of Wood

Safety considerations begin well before you play with a wooden paddle. It starts during the selection process. The size and weight of the paddle is important, as is the sensation upon impact. If a bottom hates stinging pain, you want to avoid using a paddle that creates a sharp sting. If they don’t want impact that’s too deep, jarring, or thuddy, you may want to avoid heavy paddles.

We try to indicate our perception of whether a paddle is thuddy or stinging here on the shop, but that’s based on our assessment and won’t help you select paddles anywhere else. The rule of thumb (in general, with some exceptions) to figure out what to expect from a paddle, especially a wooden one, is:

  • Lighter and smaller tends to be stinging. Lightweight woods often create a sting, although not necessarily a burning or highly painful sensation.
  • Larger and heavier tends to provide thuddy pain. Heavier woods will thud but depending on how they’re made and how they land, may also create a sting.
  • Sharp corners can create marks, bruises, and even break skin
  • Ridges, raised areas, and other non-flat surfaces can break skin, create bruises, or leave marks.

The big caveat to this is that the intensity, speed, and strength behind a strike of a paddle on bare skin determines a lot more than the weight and size of your paddle. But if you’re trying to select a paddle that has the best chance of feeling good and yielding results you want (no broken skin or marks vs all the marks and broken skin), it’s important to select the “right” one based on your goals.

Test Your Paddle on an Inanimate Object

Once you buy your new paddle, you need to test it. If you walked into a store, you may have done the next test already, but as most people buy online, this is likely your first time holding it. The first strike is best done on a mattress, pillow, couch — something soft enough not to break, but sturdy enough to withstand a strike. You want to get an idea of how heavy the paddle is, how it feels in the hand, and how it lands. Yes, you should do this even if you plan to be on the receiving end of your new wooden paddle.

Doing this, especially if you’re the top, will give you an idea of how much swing and strength you need to use with your paddle. The size, material, weight, and general make-up of the paddle will factor into this a great deal, as will your individual strength and mobility.

Test on an Arm or Leg

This is ideal for tops who need to have an idea of what their bottom will experience. It’s also a good idea for bottoms because if it feels good on your forearm or thigh, chances are you’ll love it on your butt. This is a common practice technique when you shop in a store or when playing show-and-tell in your local kinky community. But you can (and ought to!) do it for your online orders as well.

Knowing how a paddle will feel, as a top, can help you gauge what your bottom will experience on their…bottom. If you realize it has a serious sting or that landing on the wrong angle could cut the skin, you have information to help you adjust how you use it with your partner. It’s also useful to help determine what kind of impact you can expect from the paddle. Just because all signs pointed to a deep thud doesn’t mean you won’t get a sharp sting instead.

Start Slow

Now that you’ve gone through all these steps, you might be ready to smack a willing bottom’s bottom. Great! But before you swing like its bottom of the ninth and bases are loaded, start slow and gentle. Get feedback from your partner with each swing. Ask “Does this feel good?” and “Can I go harder?” Bottoms need to share information based on what the sensations they feel and whether they want more or less of it.

You might be kinksters who like to push limits and play to the edge of boundaries. You do you, but every toy and every kink has it’s own individual limits and boundaries. If you don’t start slowly with your partner, you might get to that boundary in a single smack, ending the scene before it even begins.

Establish a Safeword or Signal

Until you discuss otherwise, no always means no. But in kinky play, sometimes no means yes, please, more, don’t stop. If that’s how you play, you need to establish a safeword or some kind of signal to indicate trouble. We like to use the traffic light system. Green means keep going. Yellow means slow down. Red means stop everything. You might prefer a specific safeword.

No matter what you choose, the conversation needs to be had. How will the bottom let the top know things aren’t right and they need to stop? Whatever that method is, it must be honored, no question. It doesn’t mean all play has to stop completely, but you definitely need to pause and adjust as necessary.

Aftercare

With emotionally intense scenes, sometimes what you need are hugs and cuddles to come down from the moment. With physically intense scenes, like those you may have with your new wooden paddle, you may need a bit more. If marks have been made or skin has been broken, that needs to be seen to — clean-up, Band-Aids, etc. You might even want to try Bruise Soother from The Butters Hygienics Co. (Not sponsored, but we’re big fans of the company and use their lube ALL the time. If you make a purchase, use code KAYLA to save 15 percent off — yes, that’s an affiliate code.)

Whatever aftercare looks like for you and your partner, don’t skip this. It can be good for the physical well-being of your partner and their mental well-being. Also, it can be good for you, too. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we hit our partners with things like paddles because it’s what they want us to do.

Bottomline…

No matter how simple or easy to use your paddle may seem, playing safely and considering the well-being of both partners, is key to having a good experience.

Do you have any safety tips to add specific to using a paddle? Share in the comments below! And to learn more about safety, check out this Loving BDSM podcast episode on the topic: What is Your BDSM Safety Philosophy?

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