Greenland paddle with rec kayak?

I have become infatuated with Greenland-style paddles after meeting a fellow kayaker who was using a GP while on a recent river paddling adventure. It was very nice, and now I want one of my own. Unfortunately, I have spent waaaaay too much on my new-found paddling hobby recently, and do not have the extra funds to buy a GP. So, I’m considering making my own as many others have done. Here’s my question:

Since I am pretty new to paddling and I had a very limited budget to begin with, I got stuck with a bathtub toy of a kayak, a Pelican Trailblazer 100 Angler edition. I will be stuck with this boat for the foreseeable future. Would it even be worth the effort to make a GP to use with this kayak? Would I realize any benefit from using a GP? Or would the disadvantages of my rec kayak pretty much negate any potential advantages of a GP?

I know a guy who did it

– Last Updated: Oct-16-14 5:00 PM EST –

He paddled a Swifty with a GP that he made himself - he likes making things. FWIW, he was also relatively uninterested in fancy forward stroke, just liked the feel of the wood over plastic.

Honestly, with a rec boat, the boat is more of a factor than anything else. But that is no reason not to have some fun with the paddle.

Go For It…
Though you may end up wanting to make several to find what works best for you and your boat…

Let me know if you have any questions…


Love the looks…
I know I probably wouldn’t realize much benefit from using a GP with my rec boat. I’m drawn more to the beauty of the GP and just the pure, natural, and handmade qualities of such a paddle. However, before I embark on making my own, I do have to weigh any potential benefits of using a GP with my rec boat against the very clear and present danger of incurring my wife’s wrath for spending endless hours out in the garage whittling a paddle and ignoring her and my children. Unfortunately, like many of my hobbies, I have to take into account the SAF (spouse approval factor)!

Re: the spouse approval factor…

Simple, just tell her how much money you saved by making all those paddles yourself… : )

It will work well
Wife-related issues aside, it will work well. I have made a very lightweight Aleutian style wooden paddle from s nice pine 2x4. My 10 year old daughter is now using it on a sit on top and it works great. It is as light as a top-end all carbon paddle and easier to use too.

Making a GP really doesn’t take that mic
time. A couple of football games.Or after the kids are in bed.If you use 2 1" x 4" boards glued together ,clear pine , you get a strong , cheap paddle.

Better than you might expect…
I find the GP a super paddle for wider craft when constructed specifically for such boats.

I often use a long 95" GP in an Old Town Pack canoe when doing photography. Its quiet when stalking my subject and maneuvering the boat into position.

I also find the GP nicer to control weak tracking boat designs in terms of a general forward stroke. Subtle corrections are smooth and intuitive.

I made my canoe GP from lam’d 1x4 pine boards and carved a 24" loom. Started with a shouldered design but later clamped it back on the table and carved away the shoulders. Finished with an un-shouldered 25" loom and quite like it. I tipped the blades with some 4 oz cloth and resin for bumpin’ and pushin’ off. Oiled 'er up and off we went.

I installed a small bungie loop up on the foredeck that allows me to slide the GP under and then secure the other half of the paddle under a thwart bungie. This lets me work the single blade paddle when desired. Looks like a green narwhal when stowed as such :slight_smile:

Build a GP to suit your specific use and you’ll be a happy camper.

It is definitely worth it
I use my home made Aleutian Paddle on my 10’ Emotion Glide and it is a joy to use.

YOu will enjoy the product, you will have a conversation starter, and you can learn a lot about paddling, while having all the functionality that a good paddle will bring you.

Plus, they really don’t take that long to make.

My AP, which is a much more complicated shape to carve, took about 11 hours including the gluing of the wood together (two floor boards of WRC) right through 4 coats of finish. Your GP would take considerably less time to make.

My Western Red Cedar paddle is very light, very strong and highly functional. It propels me at speeds to the limit of my rec kayak, keeping me up with the longer sea kayaks in many situations.

So go for it and be happy.

Thanks for the replies, everyone.
Thanks for all the positive input and encouragement. I’m definitely going to try my hand at making my own GP. In fact, going to run to Menards during my lunch break today to pick out my wood.

When I mentioned to my wife that I planned to make my own paddle, I got the standard rolling of the eyes and the oft-repeated, “I’m going to kick you!” You see, my wife is wonderful, and I love her more than anything. Unfortunately, she has had to suffer through years of what she refers to as “Hobby Tourettes”. Admittedly, I DO have a tendency to hop from one hobby to another and often am engaged in multiple hobbies at the same time. This probably wouldn’t normally be a bad thing except that I have a knack for “leaking” money into my hobbies and spending disturbing amounts of time obsessing over details to the neglect of my wife and kids.

So, the fact that I have now picked up a new hobby (paddling) and pretty much abandoned all previous hobbies (including the money/time spent on them) has irritated my wife a bit. She is currently taking bets on how long this new hobby lasts (she gives it 4-5 months) and what the next hobby du jour will be after paddling (I believe her current top-runner is stamp collecting, or was it macrame? Though I doubt either of those are true contenders since my hobbies usually involve activities for which exorbitant amounts of money can be spent on specialized gear.). So, if anyone here is a gambling man, I can put you in touch with her!

After telling my wife about my plans to make a GP, the first words out of her mouth were, “How much is this going to cost me?” Of course, my reply was the standard, “Oh, not much. All it will cost is the few dollars to buy the wood!” I don’t think she was buying this! Her only caveat is that I am not allowed to spend ANY money on buying new tools or such to make this paddle. After agreeing to her conditions, I quickly realized this means it will probably take more time and effort to make my paddle as I am missing a few of the tools I have seen most others use in their GP-making videos and blogs. All I have is a jigsaw and a power palm sander. I do not have any planing or surform tools. So, I can easily cut out the raw blank for the GP, but it’s going to take a LOT of time sand it down to the final shape! Also, I don’t think I have any tung oil or urethane on hand. So, I’m probably not even going to be able to finish the darned thing.

Quick question on wood selection. Cedar seems to be the main preference for creating a GP, though I have seen references to just about every other kind of wood. Is cedar the preferred wood type? Is there any other kind of wood that would be preferred if it was available?

why not?
I may be wrong but it seems to me thast much of the appeal for GPs is the intangibles. so why fret over performance when your craft isn’t built for performance?

Why not try it? Maybe it’ll make you a better paddler.

Exactly, slush!
My intentions for making a GP are not to try and eek out any performance from my tub-toy kayak or any misguided assumptions that a GP will somehow magically transform me or my rec boat into some kind of paddling machine!

I find myself intrigued and drawn to the beauty and romance of the Greenland Paddle. Its natural characteristics and traditional heritage seem to be calling me. I’m also looking forward to the pride in using a paddle I have handcrafted.

My main technical reason for making a GP is my desire for a very lightweight paddle without spending a gazillion dollars on it. (I already did that during my initial, unguided enthusiasm for my new-found kayaking hobby.) I love my current paddle, but once I held the GP of the fellow paddler I mentioned in my OP, I was immediately entranced by its lightness, simple design, and ease of use. His GP was 100% carbon fiber, which explains its light weight, but I have read numerous articles explaining that a wood GP can be just as light, if not lighter, than a CF paddle.

With soft woods…
you can hog a lot of material quickly with homemade sanding blocks and and a 36/40 grit disc or two. Even 60 grit sandpaper on a block will remove material faster than you may realize.

Cedar is popular as its available, easy to work, lightweight and pretty. Good stuff to be sure. It is soft which is why some of us use a bit stronger wood like pine or spruce for paddles that are going to be abused some. For your application I’d go with whatever is available locally in the clarity needed for paddle making.

You will need to oil the finished product but its not a painful cost. Google up some boiled linseed oil concoctions. Buy house brands to save a few bucks.

And be sure to sign your paddle and number it. It won’t be the last one you build… :slight_smile:

Reasons I’m asking…
The reasons I’m asking if the time and effort needed to build a GP are worth it include: 1). I am/was totally unaware how long it takes to make a GP. Now that I’ve received several responses, it appears it won’t take all too long. 2). I wanted to make sure that using a GP with my toy boat wouldn’t somehow be counter-productive and a complete waste of time and effort!

some people might scoff at you
Let 'em. They can always buy you a kayak more to their standards.

Have you tried a really good Euro paddle
Nothing against GP paddles, but I see a few jump to them without having tried a really good Euro.

Current paddle…
My current paddle is a Werner Camano. I love it! It’s nice and light, and I can paddle a good long time with it, especially compared to the low-end spare paddle I have. I am completely happy with the Camano. It’s just that once I held the GP, it was even lighter and seemed effortless to use. I figured if I could MAKE a paddle that was even lighter than what I was already using, and for about the same price as an indulgent meal at McDonald’s, why not?

I grew up in Palos Park, but my total
childhood paddling experience was in a discarded cement mixing trough, poking around a local swamp.

It is true that a GP can be suitable for a wide range of kayaks. I have a piece of close-grained sitka spruce hanging in the basement, but I think rather than make one GP, I’ll rip it into soundboards.

be cheaper to buy a spokeshave than lots and lots of sand paper.

Best Wishes


So much for following orders…

– Last Updated: Oct-17-14 3:40 PM EST –

I ended up picking up an inexpensive Surform and Block Plane while at Menards during lunch. Got my wood, too, but it wasn't what I wanted. They did not have any WRC 2x4s in stock and no quartersawn wood to speak of. So, I picked the straightest pine board I could find with the fewest knots and decent grain lines. Figured it sounds like this is going to be my "practice" GP paddle anyway. So, high-end wood probably isn't as crucial. Once I figure out what I'm doing and get the hang of GP paddling, then I'll go back and make a really top-notch paddle!