How wide should I make my paddle?

I am about to make a new GP. The one I have now is a beautifully laminated wood paddle but I think that it is a wee bit too short and a wee bit too wide. It looks like a GP from a distance but paddles like a bit of a hybrid due to the width.

I would be interested in hearing from people who have Greenland paddles about how wide they are. Tall people and people with big hands are of interest to me.

I am 6’1" so I built mine so that I could do a sliding stroke but no thinner than that. It’s probably 4+ inches wide, not the typical 3.5".

Here is a picture. If the link doesn’t work, let me know!

Thanks for any feedback.


I have 3
you are welcome to try them to get an idea.

Will be at Coopers paddle battle in Kings Beach Sunday

I’ll see if I can make it. Thanks for the offer.


gp paddle width
the offer to go and actually try some gps is good.

if you can’t: your hand should curl comfortably under the paddle blade (about a hand’s width from the end) so that the first joints of the four fingers are in light but distinct contact w. the blade.

Am around for the next couple weeks
before I head to The Hinterlands

Where is it too wide?
Down the blade end width would affect it like the wider blades on an EP. If it feels as though you are having to use too much effort when paddling (GPs and APs shouldn’t feel that way), then your blade may be at fault. Blade widths appear to be 3.5-3.75 on many GPs and Aleuts (my Aleut is 3.5?).

However, if the width you’re referring to is your loom (too wide to wrap your hands around comfortably) or when you slide stroke (too wide at the shoulders), then that’s where you should have it adjusted instead.

Blade is 4"
I made the blade 4 inches wide at the widest part. An older paddle I made was closer to 3 1/3 inches which was a bit narrow for my hand and body size.

I’m thinking of trying something between the two at close to 3 3/4 inches wide. It will probably feel small to me for a while.

Note that the 4 inches allows me to do the sliding stroke and extended paddle sculling and things of that sort just fine. It just seems like I over did it a tiny bit.


Different issues
Treat the width of the loom, the shoulders and the blade as separate entities.

The loom will determine your comfort for your grip. The shoulder will be the same idea, but for your grip when sliding your stroke. The blade will determine the physics of pushing against the water (leverage mostly).

If your grip is NOT the issue, then it’s your blade width or paddle length that you may be struggling with. For that the narrower blade should suffice.

BTW, since you’re DIYing this, you can always try shaving down the width of the blade on the one you have. Shave a quarter inch at a time or less until you find a width that is most comfortable.


– Last Updated: Aug-18-12 8:28 PM EST –

i used the plans linked off this page
paddle is 3 1/2" by 96" and i'm 6'3"
it the second paddle
next one will be 3" by 96". picked up the cedar fri. will post when done.

Not Struggling At All
I’m not struggling. I love the paddle. I just want to be authentic and get proper GP performance from it. Since I made it 4" wide, I think that I am getting a bit of Euro performance from it in the form of a stronger “bite.”


3 Inches Seems Small
That’s very interesting. The first paddle I made was about 3 1/4 inches and now my daughter uses it. I should use it myself for a while and see if I like it better or worse that the 4" blade.



3-3/8" to 3-1/2" now 4"
I begun making paddles for others and I’m using a paddle width of 3-3/8" to 3-1/2". My paddle buddy likes wave surfing and I just made him a paddle with these dimensions:

87.5" long

4" wide blade

20" long loom

1-7/16" x 1-3/16" oval shaped loom

1-7/8" long, soft shoulder

He’s raving about how well the paddle works. He needs a paddle with more bite so 4" works for him.

My Greenland paddleis 3-1/2" wide.

My most favorite GP size
By far, my best and most favorite GP “magic stick” measures 92" long, 22" loom, and 2.75" blade width. I’m 6’2" and ~200#. Nobody I know uses a blade as narrow and many opt for 3.5" (full use of 2X4 lumber), but 2.75" is pure magic, especially when used with a 19" SOF.

oops, almost forgot to mention…
due to narrow blade, my loom is a bit beefy at 1-5/8" x 1-3/8" but feels great and strong enough to support chin-ups

Wow. Thanks people!
I’m glad to hear that someone has a 4" blade out there. I sure did like the extra bit it had when I was taking the surf zone lessons a few weeks ago.


listing dimensions is interesting but we all have different hand widths and finger lengths.

one of the joys of paddling greenland style is the subtle control. If the your fingers don’t curl properly around the paddle blade (or the loom for that matter) you won’t be able to utilize all the attributes of the blade - it’s about much more than the forward stroke and the “bite” (which I understand and like). Things like sculling where you use a shuttling motion to work the blade on the water, or rolling where set up and finish positions are based on a flat blade w. fingers slightly curved and palms to the sky.

personal preference
I have had the good fortune to compete in the Greenland competitions twice, and among the Greenlanders, I saw blades that were barely 2" wide (Maligiaq Padilla) to blades that were almost 6" wide (Steffan Olson).

My point is that there is a huge range that is “authentic”. I would “worry” more about the overall fit – the paddle must fit you AND your kayak, and the shape of the blade itself (A Greenland paddle is not just a “flat blade” but has an amazingly complex yet subtle shape).

As for width, start with something that gives you a comfortable grip (not max grip) and just start experimenting from there.

Greg Stamer

Anything that is too wide is not a GP?
It’s just an opinion but I think that any paddle that can’t be held by the blade like a GP is not a GP even if it looks like a GP.

Mine being 4 inches wide is at the limit for me. 1/8 inch bigger might have worked but would have been very uncomfortable to hold for any extended paddle maneuver. On the other hand, 1/8 inch less blade width might be much better. So my curiosity is piqued about what people have made for themselves now that modern man can get wood in any size needed for the task.



I am new to GP but I really enjoy my
paddle which is 85 inch length, 21" loom, 3.5" width. These dimensions are very personal. I got a lot of excellent advice from Bill Bremer of Lumpy paddles as far as selecting the dimensions for my first paddle. I LOVE my Lumpy. It seems to fit me like a glove. It feels like I have owned it for a life time. It just feels right.

I think you can get a good sense of the width that you might like by sliding out all the way on your 4 inch, then maybe try it it different locations gradually getting closer to the loom. Personally if I made any change in my paddle - which I won’t - it would be to make it ever so slightly narrower - mabye 3 1/4"? But in the end I expect I would leave it just as it is. Very sweet paddle for sure.

some hands are large enough
know a few gp paddlers w. blades that are wider at the widest point than 4" - strong, skilled paddlers.

Other paddlers who are also gifted and strong use paddles of less width.

imo very little point in parsing over a 1/4" here or there… find what feels right and lets you do what you want w. the paddle.