Home Built Carbon Fiber Greenland Paddle

I just completed my 15th Greenland paddle. This one is 100% carbon fiber, weighs only 19 ounces, has the same amount of flex as Sitka spruce, and with foam plug silencers is as quiet as wood. It is the 4th composite paddle I’ve built, and I’ve gone through the whole “from plug, to mold, to paddle” sequence three times, so building composite GP’s is not a fluke. The material cost isn’t cheap with the three yards of 50" wide carbon fiber used to build the paddle costing $175. Regardless, it’s a fun project that results in a lightweight and rugged paddle. I’ve updated the instructions for building the paddle with more details and tips, and better photos.


I know dick about building anything
but nice looking paddle you have there.

Cool, as usual.
Still want to know what’s in a Superior? Email me.I can tell tell you what material layers are there, but still some construction/assembly mystery - or at least hard believe assembly methods…

Love to know what company is doing these for Superior (we all know they’re not doing these in house except the foam cores), as I have a project they’d likely be able to handle…

Really nice
Is a carbon fiber didgeridoo next?

CF Didge
Actually, I made a carbon fiber didgeridoo, but because the walls were thin, a lot of the vibrating sound was lost, so it didn’t sound good. Eventually, I’ll make one with a bunch of fiberglass and cover it with carbon fiber. I started a stripper didge, but it wasn’t turning out like I wanted, so it was scrapped. Some of my projects don’t work out. That just makes it all the more special when they do turn out nice.

How about thermo-formed plastic
for your next didge?

waterdoc AKA Foggy Day

It just seems wrong
I don’t know if anyone else feels the same way as me, but it seems to go against the very philosophy of Greenland paddles to make it out of carbon fiber. Wood just seems to be the proper material for GP’s.

Don’t get me wrong. I love carbon fiber. My Surfski is carbon fiber. My wing paddle is carbon fiber. Many of the sailboats I race on have major components made from carbon fiber.

I am trying to think of a good analogy. It would be like someone re-creating the Wright Brothers first airplane, but building it out of carbon fiber. I suppose you could look at it the other way too. It may be like copying a modern wing paddle, but making it out of wood. There is just something that feels wrong about it, even if there are some benefits.

I often butt heads with the GP folks here, but I actually respect the guy who builds his boats and paddles and embraces the GP philosophy as much as practical. I am even willing to overlook that they don’t wear sealskins or wool :slight_smile: But, it just seems that going out of your way to build or buy a carbon fiber greenland paddle is a modern concession that veers too far away from traditional DIY GP ethic. I guess I would ask if the weight savings are worth it not just financially but also philosophically?

Nice Job Though
Nice work on the project though. And your website is well done with good pics of the process.

why not carbon?
the fact is, the gp shape is highly evolved and deserves to be maximized however it can be done. i would certainly want to try your lightweight version. gp designs are not relics. your beauty in black is proof of evolution. gp’s do things that other shapes do less well. would envyabull argue that wings must always forevermore be built of carbon- even after the next lighter stronger material becomes available- for aesthetic reasons?

Are you from the GP Taliban?

Besides, no trees were harmed in the creation of that paddle.

Is it the wood that makes it good?

I wonder what the relative buoyancy between the two is?

Very impressive work
Thanks for sharing that.

And for the world didgeridoo tour
how about starting it up at Children’s Hospital Orange County?

I feel really guilty now
Here I have a wooden GP and an QCC700. I either have to sell the QCC and get a skin on frame or dump the wooden GP for a carbon fiber GP. :slight_smile:

GP Tradition/Performance
Although I respect the Greenland paddle tradition, I use the GP because it’s a darn good design that works well. So to me a GP is less about wood or carbon fiber and more about the design and technique.

philosophy of Greenland paddles?
I have both wood and CF paddles, make paddles myself (wood, and some initial playing with composites), am a many year member of QajaqUSA, own many books on the subject, and follow as much of the online stuff as I can find - but I’m unaware of this “philosophy of Greenland paddles”.

Perhaps you can enlighten me on this envyabull? Or have you just fallen into some narrow understanding of GP users and usage and mistaken it for reality?

Greenland Inuit have a longstanding tradition/way of living that loosely translated for a Western audience might be stated as “whatever works”! Odds are (like them or not) they’d see CF GPs as a compliment, not a contradiction.

There are sure to be some Western users that are into some sort ot “as it was - so should it be” vibe, doing replicas and such, as “traditinal” as possible, but that’s not why everyone uses GPs. I like those folks, and learn a lot from them, but despite my SOF building and paddle carving I’ll never really be one of them either.

Wood paddles are very nice, and the engineering properties of wood are hard to beat. I like my wood paddles, but I still have more miles on my CF GP than any other paddle. If it were cost effective and I had the resources to do all my paddles (GP, Aleut, and others) as foam cored CF, it would already be done.

Now about that wooden wing. As coincidence would have it, I am currently filling an order for something along those lines, or at least really blurring the lines. 215 cm overall, parallel edge blades 4" x 25" (spooned powerface, peaked back, no twist, unfeathered - no need at this L/W ratio), egg shaped shaft. Designed to be used with wing stroke (but not limited to it). These are the second generation of the design, and I just did the first test paddle with the new version this evening. Sweet! Of couse, it screams to be done in CF. The carbon GP stayed under the deck lines - where it stays a lot since I started using my Aleut, and now these (which are sort of the result of crossing an Aleut with the EPIC forward stroke DVD).

I love 'em all (well, not quite in love with my EPIC wing yet), but for me (and many others I know) their attraction is functional, not philosophical.

Some have heavier wood GPs where the difference in greater, but even “heavy” GPs have considerably more buoyancy than euros or wings.

I can’t speak for all, but there is little difference with mine. My CF and wood GPs are very close in weight, so difference is more about the volume distribution though the shape changes. If held vertically they generally float with about 1/3 submerged.

The primary benefit of the CF (mine’s from Superior) for me is in its toughness (though I’ve yet to find the wooden ones lacking here either).

Oh Hell
Do I have to speak Japanese 'cause I drive a Toyota?

I kind of agree
Not taking anything away from the OP, because that paddle is certainly very cool and the work he put into it seems to justify its existence. Good job.

In that vein, I think there’s a lot to be said about paddling with something you made yourself - even if you DO make it from CF and not wood (though I see what you’re saying).

As much as I think the commercially-made GP’s are very nice, I can’t bring myself to buy one when I have one that I made sitting in my garage - and the means to make more very cheaply and easily.

I am not “handy” by any means. My GP’s are very rough. I do everything by eyeing it - not by precise measurement. They are not the smooth-finished, glassy-surfaced ones that you can buy, but hunks of carved and sanded wood with some tung oil spread to help keep the water out. But I’d rather paddle with one I made than made by someone else. It’s just a cool feeling.

But to each his own.

Just wondering that’s all
I think it was fair to bring up what I think of as somewhat of a contradiction to build a traditinal GP out of carbon. I mean it all as lighthearted conversation that would be better served with a couple cold pints, or warm if you prefer.

I live in a big wooden sailboat area. In fact it was just Wooden Sailboat Weekend and the town was packed. Anyway, I remember when one of the best loved wooden schooners, Brilliant, was the subject of heavy discussion amongst the plaid shirt crowd because they were thinking of putting a radar on the mast. Of course they did put a radar on. It was the right thing to do, but I am sure some people still cringe to see this moderm appliance on something so traditional.

Along the same lines, there has been much debate about replacing wooden masts and booms with carbon spars. Many classic wooden boats are going to carbon spars upsetting some of the traditionalist. Interestingly, they always paint the carbon spars to look like wood. So some effort is made to disguise the conversion to this new technology.

So when it comes to the GP discipline, I am sure there are some amongst that group who does feel a GP should be made of wood. We have heard from some who don’t think it matters, another who does not think the GP style has a tradition that is noteworthy. Anyway, I think this type of subject is interesting and so are the varied opinions. Even though I am not an active GP guy and I am not part of the wooden boat community, I do enjoy following the developments and appreciate the aesthetic.