Making a Greenland Paddle with Hand Tools

Next, make a sea kayak or canoe from plans. That should keep you busy for 5 years.


That’s our Paul!

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Uhhh… Yes and no.

The “yes” part is that this winter I hope to start and finish my first skin on frame, a Cape Falcon F1, after that a Cape Falcon West Greenland!

As for the rate of my progress? I’m happy with it and I’m not interested in other people’s opinions of it.

This has been an incredible journey and I’ve touched many people with it, but speed was never my goal. There were entire season lost to life issues. Lets look at the last few episodes:

Part 18 - August 2021
19, 20 - Feb 2022
21 - June 2022
22 - July 2022
23, 24 - August 2022

Moving, travel and building a workshop have really taken a toll on the rate of the build. When you couple that with learning woodworking I’m exceptionally happy with the time it took.

It is on my schedule, not anybody else’s.

Will I building the kayaks with hand tools? No, after just briefly looking at the tools list, months ago, I know I’ll need to learn to use a table saw, which I have, but I’ll at least need to buy a plunge router and probably more.

Will I finish a boat before Spring? Who knows? Who cares? I’ve got some cousins who took their RV to Florida for a few weeks last winter, they stayed 4 or 5 months. Might just do that also.

Paul, take a breath, will ya? People are just teasing you a bit, not being critical. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Prospective paddle builders will learn a lot from your paddle-building journey and you should be justifiably proud of the progress you’ve made, and the skills you’ve learned. You obviously had a lot of fun with it, even when things weren’t going your way, and that’s what really matters. Well, that and the fact that your wife gets a nice paddle out of the deal!

Building an SOF is typically a week-long endeavor, with perhaps a bit of extra time after construction for the varnishing stage. I’ve build three - plus a partial rebuild on the first one - and all of them were great learning experiences. Mine were mostly-traditional Greenland-style builds, but the F1 is somewhat easier and simpler from what I gather. If nothing else, you’re building to a plan, as opposed to winging it based on body measurements, a basic process, and intuition (or lack thereof). The fact that all three of my boats actually floated and went more or less where I pointed them is a minor miracle! I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy the boat building process too and can’t wait for the videos.

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This is the 25th and final episode in my series on making a Greenland kayak paddle entirely with hand tools, but really, start with #11.

In this episode I paddle with the paddle, thank all sorts of people, and hand off the paddle to the new owner!

Thanks everybody for your help and support along the way!


It was fun joining you on this journey and I’m happy that you found my book helpful. The point of writing it was to help people take the plunge and get into paddle making, which is a lot of fun. It’s truly gratifying to hit the water with a paddle you made yourself and is unique to you. You also pick up woodworking skills and build DIY confidence that will benefit you for a lifetime.

Congrats Paul!

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This Euro paddle gal really, really loves her new GP.

Sorry @Marshall. I might be a permanent convert. :wink:
Nah, still love my Lendal Storm. But the new paddle that @NotThePainter made for me is that “siren song” that I’m going to listen to.

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Thank you!

Head down to the QajaqUSA Greenland skills Delmarva camp in October near Rehoboth Beach and you can test paddle a range of SOF’s and GP’s. I just got back from the QTC in northern Michigan and this will be some of the same coaches and the organization’s gear fleet.

Speaking of hand tools, this year I spent one full day of camp in a workshop building a traditional Greenland target harpoon and norsaq (throwing board, like an atlatl). Tapered an 8’ long wooden closet pole using a block plane and drawknife and lots and lots of sandpaper. Went on to come in 3rd in the “seal hunt” floating bullseye competition! Now I have to final sand the “weapon” and put several coats of tung oil on it.

Would love to someday! I’m still a bit COVID-squeamish so don’t want to get that close to many people, even outdoors. Plus, I’ve never rolled and want some pool sessions first, and that isn’t going to happen soon.

What fun, I need to build me some and get my “seal.”

understandandable concern (covid.) We were asked to self- test before showing up, which I did, and I presumed other attendees complied. But the day after the event we all got an email from the organizers notifying us that several people felt ill when they left and tested positive. Even if all of us who registered tested negative before arriving, people traveled by various conveyances including flying, to get there and the camp staff prepared and served all the meals and who knows if they took any precautions.

I’ve tested negative twice since returning. I brought masks, and used them while traveling (like for the frequent stops at rural gas station convenience stores that I made on the 1000 mile roundtrip) but saw no masks at all at camp, and I was probably within 2 feet of every attendee at some point over the 4 days, though mostly outdoors.

I’m possibly one of the rare naturally immune people, though I have 4 vaccines by now and plan to get the new one when it is available. I still mask in many places I frequent since our city still has “”moderate” infection levels. I admit I was still queasy at times about the close proximity at QTC but by now I have resigned myself to preferring to interact with other people in a more “pre covid normal” manner and accept the risk I take.

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I am planning on making a Greenland paddle for my wife following your instructions. When I measured my wife’s hands for blade width, I got a width of 2 inches. This seems really small to me, but her hands are on the smallish side.

Does it make sense to make a paddle this small?

I know I could make it larger and reduce it as needed but where should I start?

I think that is the better way to go. You can always shave down but can’t add on.

Here is an old Greenland paddle poll from way back of Qajaq USA members. It is interesting because it provided the physical measurements of the individual paddlers.

Interestingly, Maligiaq Padilla and I carved /used the least wide paddle at 2 5/8" on that survey. His GP is/was longer and thus offers more blade area. (That is the only thing in “common” with Maligiaq as he was a world class roller and racer in the Greenland comps while I dappled with a GP). What I preferred since then is actually Greenland paddles with widths in the 3.25 - 3.5" range. I like more blade space. I realized I can still utilize and extended paddle (one of the “benefits” of a GP) for various techniques. It’s just that more inboard hand does not go all the way to the blade end but a foot farther in. Remember the blade narrows continuously towards the loom and thus allow the grip of a smaller hander somewhere short of the blade end.


My wife’s paddle had a similar dilemma. I read somewhere to just make it 3 inches, any smaller is too small. And as sing points out, you just don’t hold it at the end when doing an extended stroke.

You can see me starting an extend stroke a little after this time stamp.

Earlier in the video I just moved my hands about six inches off the loom.

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Paul, nice effortless glide. Good looking paddle. Without a doubt, the most enjoyable thread that I followed on the forum. Is the psddle upside down . . . Just kidding. It looks good, real good.

I thank you and Brian.

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Maybe off topic, here is an interesting interview with Maliqiag Padilla and Chung Shih, the founder of Gearlab. Part of the interview/discussion included “hand made” and carbon fiber Greenland style paddles.

I appreciated Maligiaq’s humble response when asked to compared Greenland vs Euro paddle.


My girlfriend has very small hands as well. Her two favorite paddles measure 2 7/8" and 3 1/8" wide. I would start in that neighborhood and see what your wife thinks of it. You can always modify it or make another one, if need be.

Another thing that makes a significant difference is the way the blades are tapered. You can add more blade area to a narrow paddle by making the last 12" or so the same width, then tapering it to the loom. This is not uncommon in historical paddles.


Thanks for the great idea.

I was concerned about making the paddle too narrow because it would make the blade area small, so I will change the taper as you suggest!

I am just getting to the first rough tapering of the thickness, so the paddle width taper can still be modified.