What to look for to make a GrnLd Pdle

Searched Archives with no hits, Other then avoiding warped pieces and knots, what does one look for when selecting pieces of cedar plus lumber to make a Greenland paddle? 2 x 4 8’ Are there any specific questions, lingo or terms that one should ask at the lumber yard? Thank you ahead for your response.



GP building
The quick answer is you want tight grain. The grain should run up and down from the wide side to the wide side to give the paddle strength. You should see the grain pattern clearly as layers. If the cedar has no grain showing it will be weak.

Post on the Qajaq site and you will get loads of info and possibly pictures.


You also can make a GP with laminations too rather than using a 2 x 4.

be polite
speaking as a 30 year veteran of the lumber business, it’s always smart to explain what you’re trying to do and to ask if sorting is allowed. if you are only looking for one or two pieces, they are more likely to honor your requests than if you’re wanting to tear apart a couple of bunks and leave the mess for them to pick up. you’ll have better luck dealing with a locally owned lumber yard than with the national chains or big boxes. the locals tend to have more knowledgable people and are looking to get whatever business they can, especially in these trying times. the smaller dealers are also more likely to be willing to special order something if they don’t stock what you want.

Try these websites
Here are some reference pages that will probably help.




Also check for 4x4 lumber
You can frequently find better stock in a 4x4 that can be resawn to give you the vertical grain you want. Often two paddles are hidden in a good 4x4.

There’s a picture of good grain…
…in my “Greenland Paddles” album at:


What you want is vertical grain as shown, but it also needs to run as straight as possible from one end of the board to the other. This is particularly important in the loom area, as any significant grain runout there will like result in a broken paddle.

I’ll repeat what others have said
Quartersawn is a good choice because it will be easier to carve and it will give you the maximum strength from a board. Usually a lighter board will give you a lighter paddle. Sometimes a wet cedar board can be carved and left to dry out and can loose a lot of weight. Tighter grain can give you a stronger paddle. Try to find a clear board with straight grain and no knots. If there are large knots in the board, it can cause the paddle to warp or twist near the area of the knot. I usually find only a couple acceptable boards after looking through a couple hundred. This can vary with every new stack of boards. The guys at the lumber yard usually don’t mind me going through every board because I’ll leave the stack better than when I got there. Going through the stacks of western red cedar to find just the right boards is the fun part. Enjoy.

And …
buy a copy of Brian’s book because it’s really helpful!

This may be sacriledge, but I go to
Home Depot and buy 2 tight grained,very straight 1x4 of their Select Pine.I glue them together with epoxy mixed with wood flour.A paddle made this way will be 2.5-3 lbs.

I have also made 2 with WRC,but it is pricey.

Use whatever you can find

– Last Updated: Feb-21-09 11:41 AM EST –

Yes, cedar is expensive, but it's easier to find clear cedar with good grain orientation that it is comparable pine. Laminating as you do will help reduce warpage, which can be a major problem with pine.

One of the best ways to get good cedar is to buy 4x4s and resaw them into two paddle blanks. It's a little more costly than using 2x4s, but it saves a lot of time digging around in the wood pile, so it's worth it to me.

It's important to keep the price in perspective. Paying $20 for wood to make a paddle is expensive for wood, but it's REALLY cheap for a paddle.