My father had a whole array of "slapparatus" that he would occasionally name, for increasingly grave offenses. #1 was his bare hand, #2 his belt, #3 his hairbrush, and so on up to #10, a paddle presented to him by his fraternity. That baby was about 2-1/2 feet long and four inches wide, nicely stained and varnished, with the letters and his name engraved in it (no, no holes. That paddle was intended more as a showpiece than an instrument of correction). I'm not sure what became of that paddle. I went into a different fraternity, so I didn't want it!
The mere knowledge that such an array existed was enough to keep me in line most of the time. And in fact, only once did he ever use anything beyond #1, when he had me get the hairbrush from his dresser and bend over my bed. By this time I was one scared puppy. He then took a mighty wind-up and . . . gave me what amounted to a love-tap. I was almost disappointed . . . almost!
When he DID administer a real spanking, it was with my mother as witness, and he never gave me more than four strokes, carefully timed. I don't consider myself to have been abused in receiving such attention.
Once, just once, he hauled off and swatted me upside the head. Had it happened more than once I might've considered it abuse, but one can, I think, make allowances for an isolated lapse.