GP builder's questions.

I am finishing my 5th GP but I have only used the first one I built one time.Didn’t like it much.I have now modified (shortened) it and am going to try again.The other 4 have gone or are going to Euro paddlers. 2 relatives quit paddling and one guy really likes his but doesn’t like getting wet.The 4th guy gets his this week and we’re GP paddling together.

The Questions:

  • Are the ones you build perfectly symmetrical?

    Mine have small differences in blade shape and angle.
  • Do you really have to use one to be able to make one like someone here told me?

    I should be able to answer that question for myself soon enough.

I Ain’t a Builder
but I have paddled a couple of ‘factory seconds’. I can’t feel any difference between them and the more perfect ones.

I think a paddler can paddle with a
2x4. Just curious about the nuances that a duffer like me will probably never notice.

Don’t sweat it
I have made dozens of them for myself and others. The two I use most are well built and get good reviews from other GP’ers, but they ain’t perfectly symmetrical, and they’re a little banged up from years of frequent use.

And they paddle just fine, IMO. Close is all you need to be, and if the user likes the way it paddles, then it’s a great paddle.

the ones I build are symmetrical.

If you keep building paddles with lots of differences in each blade…well…

if it was a euro paddle but the two blades were different, would it matter to you?

I also like tip weight to be extremely close from end to end. the paddle should balance at the middle not to one side.

Best Wishes


Nothing sucks for free
If you are giving these paddles to friends I bet they are happy to get them if they are their first GPs. Otherwise they may like something in particular.

I am much more particular since I got my custom Lumpy paddle. The width of the loom it just right. The size of the loom, the shoulders, the blades, the length are all just right. I think I borrowed about five different Lumpy paddles to determine just what I wanted.

However if one side pulls harder you can just shist the paddle a little.

By subtle differences, the one I just
made has a slight angle on one blade compared to the other end. By itself in the water ,it will be flat.the blades have flat faces on one side and slightly convex on the other.The paddle is nicely balanced.

If it doesn’t paddle correctly,it will look good on a wall.

“Perfection” and “handbuilt”…
…are mutually exclusive, for the most part. However, you can make blades that are so close to identical that there is no noticeable difference in feel or performance. It’s not hard to do, it just requires a methodical approach and attention to detail, in order to minimize variations.

No rules
If you read the book, Eastern Arctic Kayaks: History, Design, Technique by: John Heath. You’ll see many of the paddles he has documented are different there isn’t a real standard. Even the four or five different ways he gives to get measurements are all “general” not specific. That’s the nice thing about GP’s you can changed them to your needs. I’ve built 4 based on Chuck Holst’s directions but after my first one I made the loom a little longer. My last one I made really thin and glassed 2/3 of the blade. Experiment with it and above all test it on the water so you know what works.

I would think the original users didn’t
have kiln dried lumber and still made paddles that satisfied their needs. Probably carved them with bone.

I agree with Fadered

– Last Updated: Mar-20-11 3:31 PM EST –

I think a paddle should be balanced. but having said that, subtle differences in the loom/shoulder shape always causes me to find a perfect "side" even if I can't see it or measure it. Kinda depends on the mood, angle of paddling etc.
I must have made 25 to 30 by now, giving to friends and taking them down to Brazil for instructional purposes. they aren't perfect but they are perfectly serviceable. All paddle makers are different. Experts like Bill Bremer, Bryan Nystrom, chris Raab and Don Beale etc are perfectionists and their paddles show it. Mine are 2 x 4s compared to theirs but strangely enough I prefer mine. don't ask me why cause I really don't know.

sorry I meant fadedred...


I try to make my GP’s symmetrical
The more paddles you make will help you develop techniques, an eye and a feel for a more symmetric paddle. I don’t think that a paddle has to be perfect to perform well.

The more you use a GP and develop better paddling techniques the more you can appreciate different sizes and shapes of GP’s. So i guess I would say it helps to know how to use a GP so that you can make one with the characteristics you like. This can be a never ending journey.

muscle memory
Having paddled “western” and feathered for over a decade, it took me about three long days of paddling with my Greenland paddle (GP) concentrating on keeping the top edge of the paddle blades tilted slightly forward to prevent shudder/cavitation, making longer strokes and generally adapting to the new and various comfortable paddling techniques. Trying a GP paddle for a few minutes is not really a good indicator inasmuch as muscle memory kicks in and can make paddling with a GP quite frustrating (flutter, missed strokes, etc). However, having a symetrical paddle is one of the beauties of the GP. No matter how you pick it up, its ready to paddle.

Get it as close as you can and forget
about it. It should balance literally, and in feel as much as possible. Some of my paddles have a “sweet spot”, which is to say that I find myself wanting to use them this side up and that blade to the left/right. My suspicion is that the paddle is best balanced when oriented in that fashion. Who knows. Bill

it does matter to use the tool . . .
you’re making for others to use.

From the limited number of home-built paddles I’ve seen, and from my own experience carving, people sometimes start out carving war clubs – heavy, awkward things. Later their paddles get a LOT better. With a sweet-to-use GP, there’s not much superfluous wood left on the stick. And to know the truth of this, you have to use the paddle. You’ll be able to tell the difference easily between a club and a sweet stick.

G in NC

This Don’t Sound Right…
“By itself in the water ,it will be flat.the blades have flat faces on one side and slightly convex on the other.”

Every GP I ever paddled was convex on both sides. Did you mean to make one side different from the other?

I suspect
that friend String is making a hybrid like what is on the Yost site where one half is convex like a gp and the other half is flat


Let’s Give Him a Hard Time
Come on, String. No flat-this-side-convex-that-side. Make a real paddle. Sheesh.



I’ve been drinking

Darn drunks ! if some builders can
put grooves on one side,I can make mine convex on one side,even if it was an accident.And ,I do not make clubs unless that is the intended use.

you comin to the ECCKF?

what about you Kudzu?