Just finished carving my first GP

Hey! I just finished my first GP. I’ve never used one, and had never handled one, but I observed a demo class at the Port Angeles (WA) kayak symposium last month and was inspired.

I am currently using a Werner Kauai Carbon, and it’s been hard on my joints (I’m no spring chicken!) The gentle nature of the GP sounded nice.

I bought myself an $8 red cedar 2x4 from home depot for my “trial paddle” and ordered a low-angle block plane. While I was waiting for the plane to arrive, I roughed out my blank with a saber saw, and started in with an old (but good) bench plane.

I worked on the paddle three weekends (only 2-3 hours each) and just finished it Tuesday night. I had one mishap - got a split where there was some grain runout - but was able to glue it and salvage the job.

I did a show-n-tell with some of my paddling buddies, and they said it looked great!

Now, for you folks that may be intimidated by such a project, listen - I’m a 51-yr-old female with no woodworking experience, sore shoulders, and arthritic hands. If I can do it, so can you! Besides, it motivated me to get moving, and in spite of my sore shoulder, the longer I worked, the better it felt!

I finished the paddle with Watco Danish Oil. I may be making some adjustments after I try it out - the loom may be too short, but it’s easy to lengthen.

Now, I have a $50 piece of old-growth vertical grain cedar downstairs - just waiting to become paddle #2. I must make myself wait until I really know what I want in a GP.

Thanks for listening, folks! I’m so proud of myself! When I get a picture I’ll post it on my website.


Nothing like wood…
I got into carving my own paddles as well and now preparing to make my sixth paddle. The most recent one turned out pretty good as I was fortunate to get my hands on two pieces of Western Red Cedar with not a knot to be seen. Try your hand at a storm paddle next. I switch back and forth often between my storm and GP which probably prevents overusing certain muscles and joints, and the storm is great in high winds. I posted some pics in earlier postings if you wish to do a search under GP. Have fun and keep carving.


Save that old growth wood…
…for paddle number 5 or 6. You’ll probably find that you do a bit of experimenting before you come up with the optimum design. Admittedly, I’m still using a paddle that’s a duplicate of my second one, but there are still several other ideas I want to try.

A storm makes a great spare. I’ve also found that it works nicely as a single-blade paddle when sneaking up on wildlife – if you use an in-water recovery there’s no flashing exposed blade.

I made mine with a two-fist loom, but I’d make it a one-fist loom if I were doing it again.

Yes, save the good stuff
It took me about a year & 5 paddles to find my “optimum” design. Once I did, I went out & got some custom milled wood (Sitka spruce, red cedar & white cedar) and made the paddle I’ve used the most for the last 4 years.

It’s fun set of projects!


Saving the good stuff for later
OK, I’ll take your advice and save the good stuff for #5 or #6. Storm paddle next is a good idea! I’ll do that!


Good for you!
Congrats on the accomplishment! Thanks for the motivation, I think I’ll go finish my 2nd Gp,…for the second time. Needed some changes, I think it’s a lot closer now. Guess I’ll find out this weekend if it’s a wall decoration or a keeper. It’s all good!

Tried it out this weekend
Got to try out my paddle this weekend. I was amazed at how effortless it was compared to my euro paddle!

Had a great bonus too! We found 8 full beers floating in the lake, glacier runoff cooled!


That Is Great!!
I have visited several GP manufacturers sites and have been gathering information about GP paddles. I really do like wood and would like to switch over to a wood paddle. I purchased my touring paddle too quickly and though it is a very nice paddle there are several things I would change now that Ive used it for a while. I dont want to do the same thing with a GP paddle and Ive deceided to follow your lead. I am going to try and carve my first GP paddle.

I may buy a nice one down the road when I discover just what dimensions and configuration works for me. Who knows, maybe Ill become good enough and I will be able to carve my “good” one instead of purchasing it.

good stuff,


Good luck !
Good luck on your effort - it’s not difficult, and was extremely rewarding. Be sure to keep us posted on how you are doing - and ask questions!


Me, too!
Unlike you, though, I did it under the tutelage of Don Beale, who taught a small group of us at the South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayaking Symposium (SSTIKS). At the end of the day, I immediately took it out for a test paddle in a borrowed kayak and loved how it felt. I had tried another person’s GP before but it never felt right (too long, too narrow a loom, too narrow a blade). This one was made for my dimensions, and it made a big difference in how it felt.

One caveat: I had a lot of difficulty with the blank (Don cut blanks for us and inserted a piece of thin hardwood in the ends to prevent the cedar from splitting). So did another person. After a couple of hours, Don mentioned that two blanks had come from a piece of wood that had not had adequate kiln time and were therefore harder to work with. Guess who had one of them.

So I’ m not sure that saving the good wood for later is a great idea, because if it’s easier to work with, it might be better to start with it. But then again, you’ve already done one now.

Great job
but you just might have to build a long narrow boat to match the paddle!

Storm paddle
I’m working on a storm paddle now. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. I used the first GP for an 8-mile paddle last weekend, and several other club members had GPs there as well. We all tried each other’s paddles, and mine was very popular as it was the lightest. Didn’t have quite enough blade for some of the guys, but it behaved very well in the water.


Building a boat

Boy, you hit that right on the head! I am already drooling over the skin boats I’ve seen lately. Our local paddle club had a show and tell meeting last Wednesday - we all brought our handmade paddles and boats. There were three boats present. An Aleut-style baidarka, a greenland style skin-on-frame, and a baidarka built from aluminum tubing, cloth and finished with Hypalon.

I liked the greenland style boat the best, and would love to make one! My current boat is an Eddyline Nighthawk 16, with a 22" beam, which isn’t wide, but I’d love to have a skin-on-frame for learning to roll. I haven’t been able to master it in the Nighthawk.


skin on frame
I just built a skin on frame kayak, 17’x19" from Chris Cunninghams book this past winter and have been enjoying learning different greenland rolls. The kayak felt so unstable when I first started paddling it but now it feels very comfortable. The greenland paddle really compliments the light stability in the greenland kayak. The paddles bouyancy makes keeping the kayak upright very easy with little effort. I have also found that after learning different rolls in the sof I can do them in other kayaks. The sof kayak only cost $250 to build and I enjoy paddling it more than any other kayak. Give it a go, you’ll never regret it.