GP wood - poplar?

Has anyone ever used poplar? My local wood store has WRC but it is being air dried and is still damp.

What are you using it for?
Are you cutting strips? Accent strips? or for gunnels, etc.?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. I have used poplar as gunnels. For me it worked fine, though it did get some blochy discoloration. I guess that is common with poplar. I have also heard that sometimes it doesn’t like to hold glue or epoxy. I had scrafs on my gunnels and they held up fine, but I’d be hesitant to use poplar strips for that reason. Gunnels are one thing, but I wouldn’t want my boat to fall apart.

Duh! Never mind
GP = Greenland Paddle, right? I’m a canoer and answered with a canoer’s mind set.

My understanding is it rots too easily and S/W ratio isn’t that great. Might be worth a try, or as part of a mix.

I carved one from WRC that was so wet it weeped while planing. Ended up very heavy, but very quickly lost over 1/3 of it’s weight a few days after carving. That paddle now weighs 29oz.

Too green to carve?
How long should a piece of wood sit before carving?

A friend of mine is a wood worker. He just milled some spruce for a barn he was making. He gave me two true 2x4s to work with. He just milled them and they look pretty green. I’m slowly honing my skills on a crummy piece of doug fir so waiting for the spruce isn’t a big deal.

After looking at the paddle Tripp
made for sea-tec, I went to HD and paid $14 for straight, clear, kiln dried pine. Let the paddle making begin!

Or maybe pine’s being heavier/tougher(?) means flat or rift would get by?

Woods for GP
If you know you are going to be using the GP regularly, buy the western red cedar, making sure the grain orientation is correct and that it is straight, with no twists or cups. Buying a 4x4 with straight grain and sawing it in half is an easy solution to correct grain orientation.

I would avoid poplar. It’s fairly light and cheap but I think it would be brittle. Sitka spruce is heavier than WRC but stronger and favored by some who use their GP in very rough conditions-reduces the breakage risk. Yellow cedar works but is hard to find on the East coast. Dug fir is common, easy to find with good grain orientation but noticeably heavier than WRC.

While cost is real, it is a small factor when weighed against the 1/2 to 1 day you will spend carving it. There are a number of excellent paddle makers who will carve one for you at a cost of $150-$200 plus shipping. Does makes $30 for a 2x4 look cheap if you ignore the value of a day of your time.

My suggestion is to make a few until you are sure you want to regularly use one, have learned the dimensions you prefer and what length works with your boat. Then you can order a finely crafted paddle to your preferences and the money will be well spent. Of course by that time you may have joined the growing pack who enjoy carving their own paddle. Order Brian Nystrom’s book on making a GP if you have not made one before.


At this point,time is what I have.

– Last Updated: Jul-30-08 1:42 PM EST –

And I love working wood.I don't know what different grains look like.

I am very fond of the cypress paddle
I carved last year. It has a tighter grain and a stronger feel than the wrc,spruce, and mahagony paddles I own and have used. A quick coat of Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil and it is good for a season. It feels like a hardwood, but is relatively light in weight. The wrc at home depot works well too, but you can sort that stuff for hours before you find a straight one and then you find out the grain is in the wrong direction. Too much work for me to save $20 in lumber costs (my dried and milled true 2x4 in Cypress was $27). Good Luck. Bill

Outside the box suggestion :
Lacking a good source of WRC 2x4s or 4x4s would it be possible to laminate the WRC 1x2s found at HD or SLowes?

I keep looking at them, and my local SLowes has some pretty clear-looking ones. Maybe with a spruce spine oriented perpendicular to the blades…


Grain in wood for GP
Hi String,

Place the 2x4 with the long sides on top and bottom. Now look at the end. The grain you want is to have the tight lines of the grain running from top to bottom of the end. This is a verbal description of quarter sawn wood. Next sight down the wide side and see that the grain stays nearly parallel to the sides for the whole length, not running off one side.

Most 2x4s will show opposite grain pattern. Place the 2x4 on the narrow side. Usually the closed spaced lines will now run top to bottom, not as above. This is called flinch sawn. It is cheaper to cut and process wood this way so thats what we usually see. If one takes the time to sort through the pile there are usually a few quarter sawn boards in a pile of flinch sawn.

Clear white pine is not ideal, but would be a more available and cheaper wood for practice.

Again I suggest buying Brian Nystrom’s book “Greenland Paddles step by step” It’s an excellent source of info on Greenland paddles. It’s about $20 and will more than pay for itself. Illustrations show what I’m trying to describe. You can get it from Brian through googling his name.


Thanks ret603. I am laminating two
clear 1x4. One comes close to the quarter sawn description,the other not so much.It seems like the lamination will prevent or inhibit warping.We’ll see.

Quartersawn picture
This is wat it looks like

Laminated GP
I laminated two clear pine 1x4s to make my paddle because I had the wood sitting around and wanted to spend $0 on my first GP. The paddle is fairly straight and has not come apart after a season of use.

I’m not sure how I would ever know if it was a good paddle since I don’t know anyone else with a GP. Anyone near Lake Tahoe want to stop by and let em try theirs? :slight_smile:


string , when laminating your …

– Last Updated: Jul-30-08 5:55 PM EST –

........ 1 x 4's together , make absolutely certain that the one on bottom is layed flat , on a perfectly flat surface along it's intire length . Clamps are not always nessasary , an optional method is to make wooden bridges a 1/4" taller than the laminated pieces and fasten them to the flat building surface .(ex., 2 - 1x4 = 1-1/2", so bridge height is 1-3/4") ..

Your adhesive (glue) prepared 1x4's slide in from the end between the bridges , hand final align and set wedges (even cedar shims) between the bridges and top 1x4 to tension together . For 1x4's I'd set the brigdes about 12" apart . I have 3-1/2" wide oak shims , but these are not nessasary , any shim (wedge) will do fine .

The reason I say a perfectlty flat build surface (a good work bench for example), is because once the two boards are glued up and adjoined , any twist or bow during the drying process will stay that way after release from bridge or clamps .

A radius shaped piece can be made by laminating several thin pieces together around a radius form , and when all dry and removed , the fabricated piece remains a radius .

Once you have shaped your paddle and fine sanded it , it would be a good idea to let it set for a couple weeks or more (shimmed/braced as it is shaped) before applying final finish . The reason I say this , is because after a couple weeks you may notice the two boards have shrunk (acclimated) somewhat differently , and this will be felt in the seam where laminated .
At this point simply fine sand the seam back to where you can not feel it again and 1st coat seal (immediately) the intire paddle to keep further moisture from getting into the wood , also will trap moisture that is in the wood at that point . Wood needs to have some moisture in it to remain stable .

Another option for laminating , is to fabricate a "true" fence jig . That is simply a flat board (2x something) with another flat board (2x something) fastned to it perpendicular with screws along a straight line . The board sitting on the other should have a true edge (ex., table saw cut with no rounded corners) .. I would prefer the primed fingerjointed 5/4" stock from Home depot for this though , because it is very true , meaning not bowed , cupped or twisted , which makes fabrications much more accurate .

Quartersawn photo & laminating wood


Thanks for the picture. A picture is truly worth 1,000 of my words.


You can laminate 1" WRC siding into a paddle blank. You should look for quarter sawn grain although the process of lamination will add some strength. Some of the 1" planks are likely to be quarter sawn.

After being shown how by an experience paddlemaker, I conducted a class building hollow shaft GPs with my local kayak club. I glued up 15 hollow shaft blanks and we made 15 hollow shaft Greenland Paddles out of WRC siding. It can be done. What you are thinking of doing (glueing two 1" planks to get a 2" plank) is much easier than glueing up a hollow shaft GP. The downside are that you lose the slight flexibility of a solid paddle (due to lamination) and that you need to keep the paddle coated with epoxy to protect the glue line. Yeah, I know about waterproof glues, I just don’t fully trust them.

The only upside to a hollow shaft GP, beyond doing it so you can say you did it, is they are very light. They are a pain in the ass to glue up.

Some GP users never coat their solid WRC paddles, just letting them turn grey with only an occasional sanding to knock down any grain that rises through use. WRC doesn’t need any coating, but I do so for looks.


Hollow GP
Dave’s hollow GPs are very cool.

Thanks for the photo. My 2 boards are
combination sawn.I glued them this afternoon with epoxy.At 90 deg in the garage, there is little drying time. I clamped the heck out of them and will let the epoxy cure overnight.No warping noted.

I’ll glue the maple set tomorrow.

combination sawn

Combination sawn wood should work and the strength is increased a bit by laminating. There may be areas of tricky grain. If the grain is starting to cause trouble in one direction try reversing direction of drawknife, block plane or spokeshave in that area. One WRC solid blank I carved had such tricky grain on one end that I finally went to random orbital sanding to finish it. Whatever hand tool, used in whatever direction, led to just more tear out. Hopefully you will find your wood easier.