Wood for GP

After messing around with a greenland paddle at a pool session yesterday I decided I should make myself one. I’ve heard of people using WRC, but wondered if White Cedar works as well. I’m surrounded by Eastern White Cedar and I have a few small logs sitting around that I had to cut in the fall to clear space for a shed.

If it’s good to use, I’ll just cut a paddle blank out of that, and I won’t have to worry about finding a quartersawn board with no run-out at the lumberyard.

This book can be invaluable.


Plenty of info on your question, NH, and loads of photos from a fequent Pnetter. Money well spent before you spend the hours and in materials investment.


Go for it
I’ve made three from NWC and probably have three more blanks in stock now.

The blanks I have and paddles I’ve made are generally a little bit lighter than WRC paddles.

The wood seems to have more flex and is less britle than WRC.

Flat sawn boards are way too flexy, so avoid them.

Leave the paddle a little more stout than you would for WRC - at least until you get a feel for the flexibility.

I broke my nicest NWC paddle last July, but I’ve also broken two WRC paddles. My first paddle is NWC from a flat sawn board. My friends refer to it as a ‘wet noodle’ when I use it for rolling.



The white cedar will work well
for a greenland paddle. White cedar has half of the Plicatic acid in it compared to red cedar which makes it much safer to work with. Anyone who does a lot of work with western red cedar can become sensitized to it and it can be very bad for your health. Start out wearing the right protection. I didn’t, and I can’t touch the the stuff anymore.

Should be fine. I have paddles made from
WRC, Sitka Spruce, and Cypress. I favor my Cypress paddle as far as the wood is concerned. I have heard people complain about the weight, but I just don’t see it in the wood I have used. I like the wood so much I have just built a skin boat from it (ribs are oak). If you have stable, clear, vertical grain wood, and it is free…start carvin. Bill

Tuktu Paddles has good info
on their website too, tuktupaddles.com. One section is devoted to characteristics of different woods.

Also the underwater picture on the storm paddle page is my paddle, taken in the Apostles.



green vs dried
Has anyone used green wood?

I know some framers prefer to work wood when it’s green for easier working characteristics, at the expense of some warping as it dries.

Any thoughts from people who have used green or air dried wood? Or is everyone using only kiln dried wood?

I haven’t used green, but have used WRC so wet id seeped water when carving. Paddle was a bit heavy when carved, but lost 1/3 of it’s weight in 3 days and ended up quite light. No warping at at all, but WRC is pretty dimensionally stable wood.

There’s no advantage to green wood…
…or air dried for making paddles. They work better for bending than kiln dried wood, but that’s irrelevant for paddle building. That said, there’s no reason that you can’t use either one, but I would suggest letting green wood dry for a few weeks before using it. With cedar, support it on a flat surface with support every 24" or thereabouts.

Thanks for the advice Bryan. I’ll cut some oversize blanks from cedar, let them dry on stickers as long as I can manage to wait, then true them up on the jointer to get a straight blank before carving.

That sounds like good plan
You can probably cut your blanks to within 1/8" in thickness and 1/4" in width if the wood is quartersawn, as it should be pretty stable.

What’s a WAG for a starting length. I’ve spent a total of an hour with a GP in a 25 meter pool, and I’m sure I wouldn’t notice at this point if one were 6" longer or shorter.

I expect with some experience I’ll develop a personal preference, but for starters how long should I make a first paddle? 85 inches? I’m 6, and paddle with a 210 high angle paddle, if that helps. My boat width is 21" and change.

87" - 3.375" max blade width - 21" loom
Too specific a wag? Then say +/- 2" that length, +/- 0.25" that width, and +/- 2" that loom length - but since it would be your first GP, with no history/preferences to indicate otherwise, for someone your size you could do worse the measurements in subject line. Save the +/- for next one (and maybe beyond on 3rd - or maybe not).

A Thread
for You to read


and some other things to read…



Best Wishes


I’d start with…
…an 86" paddle with 3 1/2" blades (the width of a 2x4) and a loom length around 22". This seems to be a good size for an average adult male, especially if you’re transitioning from a Euro style paddle. The exact dimensions of your first paddle are not especially critical, since you’ll probably end up experimenting with different sizes and shapes until you hit on something that you really like. Make a paddle, play with it for a while, then repeat. :wink:

Nice to have advice on where to start from.