Want to try Greenland paddle, without having to spend hundreds

My wife and I are in our 50’s and paddle our kayaks (Eddyline Equinox & Skylark) around lakes and slow rivers. We currenly use 220cm fiberglass/carbon fibre paddles which we are very happy with. This is our 2nd year of casual weekend kayaking. Oh, and we’re near Dallas, TX.

We would like to try a greenland paddle, but without dropping $300+ and custom job wait times, but there seems to be no used greenland paddles anywhere, and I have limited skills and tools for woodworking.

I guess I’m asking if anyone has a used one they would part with, or knows of simple plans for a good functional DYI paddle that an old thumb-fingered, tool-challenged guy could make? Or any other ideas?

All feedback welcome!

There is a thread on this forum by @NotThePainter about making a Greenland paddle. In the early part of the thread he covers where you can get plans (some free, some cost.)

The thread has many videos you can watch that show some of the process. Here is the link:

Making a Greenland Paddle with Hand Tools

I have seen a few for sale.

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I made a couple of GPs last winter. I enjoyed it a lot, and plan to make another this winter. To be fair, I have a tablesaw, a bandsaw, and a bunch of hand tools. You need a hand plane and probably a spokeshave. I like using my drawknife, but most people don’t have one of those. I see people using a jigsaw for roughing things out. You do need to follow a plan, and there are plenty out there. Watch some videos.
I don’t understand why these are so expensive. Yeah, they take a few hours to make, but material is minimal.

All it takes is a cedar 2x4, a hand plane, a piece of string and a pencil.

The coolest thing about making your paddle is you are the plan, you make it to fit you. No other plan needed.

I shunned the idea of a Greenland Paddle as old technology, until I followed a thread on making one. While reviewing the post, I became interested in the design. Fortunately, I have the skill to attempt at least a working example. I recommend looking for the thread if you haven’t seen it. Even if you don’t have the time or experience to make one. I believe the info would be beneficial if you find someone who made a paddle and wanted to sell it because they need to tweak it. That way, you’d be in a position to decide if the fit was right. You might get luck and find someone who just wants to recoup the price of material to make a new model

I’ve found several used Greenland paddles, though admittedly it took quite a lot of patience. Also sometimes you can find someone local who makes them.

I have made 2 and will be making a 3rd soon. I am quite skilled as a woodworker because I make guns for a living, mostly flintlock types like those made 200+ years ago. The stocks are 100% handmade and at times so are the metal parts also. Making paddles was quite easy for me. I have no large electric tools for making them, so it took me about 3 hours each, but charging 300+ 500 seems excessive to me also. The wood costs about $20 so all the rest is labor.
I make these:
Image-32 by Steve Zihn, on Flickr
IMG_0497 by Steve Zihn, on Flickr
And I don’t try to charge$100- $125 an hour. I have a good skill-set, but what I make is a bit more detailed then a kayak paddle, so seeing $125 an hour for one seems unreasonable, but that’s just me. Others may disagree.

There is at least one fellow who custom makes vertically laminated GPs from eastern hardwoods and sells them on Etsy for $225. These will be usually stiffer and stronger than those carved from a solid single piece of wood and, of course, take longer to make.

I think that’s a pretty fair price, I paid a little more than that 12 years ago for my first custom GP which is 5 horizontal laminations of western red cedar and spruce,

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Thanks for referencing my thread!

My first paddle, the practice one, cost $3.10 plus some sandpaper and boiled linseed oil. I just use a piece of crap wood from a local crap lumberyard. I’ve used it fir a few years now and live it. You’ll need a jigsaw (or a hand saw) a plane and a spokeshave, but that should be well under $100.

And hopefully you’ll have the time if your life making them, because yeah, there’ll be more than one

I am fortunate. I have a wood shop a few minutes away. He usually has a good WRC board on hand.
I buy the board , draw the paddle on it, then take it back to get it cut out on his band saw.
From then on I do the rest.
I carve the loom with my wife’s great grandfather’s spokeshave . I take the blades down with an electric planer.
From there , it’s sanding to finish. I use polyurethane on the blades and tung oil on the loom.

If you do not have wood working experience, you might find making your GP frustrating. Yes, they can be made with only non-electrical handtools, but I imagine it would take some time. I happen to have some furniture making history and a simple but nice assortment of skill saws, a power planer, and a couple of orbital sanders. I found these tools very helpful. But it also matters whose hands are wielding these things. Like most skill development, it takes time to sense the capabilities of the the tools and the medium. In my case it was a $24 clear cedar 2x4.

I made the first version and paddled it, and it felt just okay. I did an image search of other paddles, and realized mine was still somewhat rough hewn. I got after it again and shaved the end down to no more than 1/4", and further smoothed the blade surface with its transitioning curves. A quality paddle has a fairly complex surface. I felt somewhat challenged and definitely had to pay attention. I am pleased with the final result, but must admit, not sure how this process would go with someone with less skills.

Maybe I am over thinking this, and others with less experience have made great paddles

pbenter, I think you may be right. I’ve had tools in my hands since early childhood. My Dad built boats when he started out and progressed to home additions and built a beach house. I was there for fetch and carry and the grunt work.
Some of his skill must have rubbed off.

If the wood working skill comes after the husqvarna, its beyond me. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

The journey is just as important as the paddle to me. When I started out I knew almost nothing about wood working. I’m learning as I go. A greenland paddle isn’t fine furniture, it’s just a paddle. It might not be perfect, but it will move you though the water with joy.

I’m not sure I’ll make my second one with just hand tools, a band saw would be so nice… I’m only doing it now for the challenge. So yeah, I agree, use power tools if you have them.

pbenter raises a lot of good points. I was a professional carpenter for quite a while, and the process of making a GP during a Cape Falcon boat building class was pretty straight forward. My GP looks good, but is not in the same league as the GP that Brian made and gave me later (for loaning him my boat to use on a Hudson River paddle). They look similar but the fine details like blade cross section, edge radius, tip shape, loom shape etc. have a tremendous effect on performance. So go ahead and make a paddle, but try to borrow more GP to see what the possibilities can be. A really good GP is a joy to use and performs in the same league as the best ultra light CF paddles.


Yes, carldelo, does a better job of explaining what I was going for. One issue for me was that this was the first GP I had made. It looked okay, but it was not in the same game as paddles from seasoned builders. Once I reworked it, it got pretty close, and the difference was noticeable. I stopped using a Werner Corryvrecken in favor of my homemade GP. I didn’t see that coming.

That said, I would not want to discourage someone from giving it a go to make one.

As noted, the great things about building one yourself is the experience. I recall a post of one . . . austere paddle; I believe the next attempt will be an upgraded model.

Videos show using a straight grained 2x4 as a test model. What you gain is valuable fitment info, even if it breaks first time out. I also saw several beautiful paddles with knots. If the knots are strategically placed, it limits the impact on strength. Even so, if it breaks, evaluate it as lessons learned. If it doesn’t break. Hang it on the wall. Tell visitors you acquired it while conducting warlus research In the sub-Arctic region.

The experience will help you become an educated consumer. Some members try paddles with less blade area and decide the Greenland style is off the table, while other including me, have been influenced to give it a try. My first one will be homemade. Then I can seek professional help. No pun intended

I appreciate all the replies!

I’m really rank novice with any kind of wood working - I mean, I’m in my 50’s and male, so I’ve done SOME work with wood - housing walls, dog houses, decks - but I’ve never done woodworking on purpose, and it will never be my hobby.

If I can convince myself to try to build one, I will still not be confident that I will by trying a ‘greenland paddle’ when I hit the water - more like, I will be trying to paddle with a butchered 2x4 instead of a paddle. That being said - I am still investigating…

My first preference would be to find a used one (that costs less than a new one), or to find someone local who can let me try theirs (fat chance, apparently).

I figure this is a good a place as any to make my first post. I made a Greenland for pretty to close to nothing. So I thought I might tell about it. My carpentry skills are what I call deck building level. I am no where near a finish carpenter. I say this to let folks know they don’t have to be a cabinet builder or have a tool box full of expensive stuff. Just go for it.

Lots of folks will tell about their fancy tools and expensive wood. I used a couple scrap 1”x4”x8’ pine pieces left over from a roofing job. I glued the two together t make a 2x4. The base lumber was pretty poor with plenty of knots. Because t the two boards laminated together allows the two to reinforce the others weakness. I think even if I make another with better wood I will still use this lamination process.

Tool wise I used a hand jig saw to rough cut the shape. A hand plane and a rough rasp removes the rest of the unwanted wood. A chalk line to lay down the lines and a bit of sandpaper to smooth things out at the finish. A few coats of linseed oil and put it in the water.

Plans came from Chuck Hoist.

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Greenlanders did it for centuries using driftwood logs shaped with stone and bone tools, so yeah, it doesn’t require a lot. Better wood produces a lighter and/or more durable paddle and modern tools make the job quicker and easier, but that’s really it.