A mash paddle is a device essential to mixing in your strike water and breaking up dough balls (dry pockets of malt) during the mashing process. This a very basic piece of brewing equipment, and it is difficult to do all-grain brewing without one.
A mash paddle has three basic parts: the handle, the shaft and the base. The handle is used to hold the paddle while stirring. The shaft is used to extend the base into the hot mash. The base is the part that does the important work, namely stirring the mash.
Mash paddles are made of three different materials: wood, plastic and metal. Most commercial version are made of either plastic or metal. Many do-it-yourself homebrewers choose to craft one out of wood, usually maple or oak. They usually have a hole in the handle to facilitate hanging it up after the brew session is over.