Is it possible to shorten a GP by ~4"?

I recently acquired a wooden Greenland paddle, one piece, oil finish, I think it’s western red cedar. I’d like to shorten it by about 4 inches. The loom is good for me, but I’d prefer it shorter overall. It’s 87" now and the ends of the paddle appear pretty uniform over those two end inches. If I can’t shorten it easily I’ll give it to my spouse or someone else to use. I am an utter know-nothing when it comes to woodworking, but am patient and good with my hands. Any advice is appreciated!

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Yes you may shorten it. Of course you’d be reducing the area of the blade. Which may or not be a problem. Saw it . Sand it. Oil it.

I assume from your description it is not laminated or have a reinforced tip. I have seen some nice GP WRC in that range for around $200.

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As Overstreet says, yes you can shorten it. I’ve known a few people who have made their own GP’s multiple times and they have talked about starting oversized and then cutting them down either in length or width to see how they performed until they got exactly what felt right.

My WRC GP is 84" and just right for me (5’ 5" with boats from 21" to 24" beam).

Great, thank you both.

I’m an inexperienced GP user, having gotten my used Gearlab paddle in late summer 2019, and then the pandemic hit so no Greenland paddling instruction possible, etc.

I love my Gearlab paddle and wanted to try out a more traditional one. The Gearlab is 210 cm and unshouldered. I think it fits me well, but this is coming from no formal training. The wooden one is shouldered, but very subtly.

Before I go and chop off 4 inches, do you think it’s possible I’ll decide I want a longer one when I learn more about using it? So far my progression has been longer >> shorter, and never the other way around.

Where is your usual paddling area? Are there other Greenland Paddle users in your area so you can try other sizes before you start cutting on a guess?

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Yes, there are others in my area, and under normal circumstances I would be hoping to attend a Greenland paddling weekend in the early summer, but not sure with covid whether it will happen. They canceled it last year, of course. I guess I could just wait… I do already have my Gearlab paddle, which I love more than any other paddle I’ve tried. The wooden one is also very appealing, though! Amazing how these objects become so intriguing the more one paddles, and start to look more and more beautiful.

I’ve made a few for myself and others and invariably I’ll shorten them.
My suggestion is to take 2" off and try it for a bit and then decide if you need more removed.
Bryan coached me on my first one and it had a lot of flutter. The issue is l’m 6’5" with long arms. Bryan reminded me that there were no Inuits my size.

I made a series of paddles for just this purpose. Finding any given persons favorite length , width and loom length. {3 different widths, five different length of blades in each width and all with adjustable looms} I can make an awful lot of size changes.

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That’s pretty much GP heaven.

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@Doggy_Paddler You could also kind of split the difference and try removing just one inch from each end first. See how that feels and then decide if you want to take another inch off or leave it.

Are those made of wood and then painted? Or are they carbon fiber or something? They appear to have looms in purple and blue and maybe other colors? They’re beautiful!

They are vacuum bagged carbon. each one made by making a plug from the others and then changing the size before making a mold . That way I would not be doing different basic shapes to find the feel of the lengths etc. The paddles are sprayed with 2 part urethane as a UV inhibitor . I did it in different colors just to play {dye added to the urethane} I made them as a fit kit to do away with guessing. {way to much variance in peoples body’s compared to Greenland people who the anthroprometric sizing was designed around.


If I remember from your earlier posts that mention height and kayaks I’d think that 87" (221 cm) is rather long for you. Paraphrasing String a bit, you might taking an inch or so off or each end. You may need to adjust the taper a bit to get the tips back to a better thickness.

I’m ~5’ 8" and use an 84" (213 cm) GP with a kayak (Pygmy Arctic Tern 17’) that is much larger than a true West Greenland qajaq.

Necessary length also depends on how far up you sit from the water. Greenland Kayaks didn’t have a seat. sat on the bottom, closer to the water and didn’t have to reach down for contact. The higher your seat, the longer the paddle needs to be.

You sound like you have two GPs. One at 210 and one at 220. But it doesn’t sound like you’ve paddled much with either one. Maybe you need some time with both to compare and find the things you like best.

We haven’t spoken about width of the blades. It makes a difference . Some use a skinny blade some bigger.

Either way you need to try 'em in the water to find out how the difference plays out for you. After using the GP for six years I find regular euro paddles awkward and skinny GPs too small.

It is noticeable if you only take 1/2 inch off each end…the problem with a 1/2 inch less is not that it;s noticeable …but it isn’t until you take too much off that you realize that it is too much. and them…too late

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OOPS forgot to answer the initial question, Yes…it’s always possible to shorten a paddle.

I’ve got a Gearlab too (a 220 cm Akiak). I like it a lot but have to admit I still slightly prefer the cedar GP (which was custom made for my metrics).

By the way, I discovered that a 48" padded rifle case is perfect for storage and protection for a Gearlab. Found my pink camo one on the clearance rack of a discount store for $11 and it fits the two halves of the paddle like a glove. I’ve considered stitching some peace sign and Amnesty International patches on it to confuse people who spot me schlepping it.


Yes, I have 2 GPS now and am thrilled.

To clear up Overstreet’s misconception, I’ve actually paddled a good deal with the 210 Gearlab. I acquired it late summer 2019, paddled a lot that summer but for various boring reasons was unable to take lessons; then last summer and fall with covid we paddled quite a lot but couldn’t take lessons.

I always now prefer to use the Gearlab unless it’s windy and I feel I need the extra power provided by my Euro paddle. A few times when my spouse’s shoulder was bothering him, I let him use it and took the Euro.

I’m a slightly advanced beginner and have had a number of lessons with the Euro paddle, but zero instruction with the GP.

So I can say with some confidence that I really like the Gearlab paddle at 210 cm (same as my Euro, and if I could I’d probably try a 205) and a blade width of 3.25. The new one is 221 cm with a blade width of 3.4 or so.

I guess unless people think it’s possible that, with some formal instruction in using the GP, I’d grow to want a longer paddle, then I’d shorten it to 210.

By the way good memory, Rival51, I am 5’6” and my boat is a 22” wide Impex Montauk. I sit pretty low in the boat. I paddle high angle, which I’m not even sure is “correct” for a GP. (But you go faster that way!)

And Willowleaf, when I bought that used Gearlab paddle for $60 on eBay it came with a Gearlab paddle bag. I know, right? But I love the idea of you with a pink camo rifle bag with a peace sign.


I’d go for it!

Go watch some video and buy a good spoke shave and learn how to sharpen it. Might want a good saw for the rough cut.

You can even just buy some big box white wood and practice with the spoke shave first. That way you’ll have a feel for the tool.

I know it isn’t for everyone but I find it very satisfying to do the wood working myself.

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