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Greenland Paddles



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The following information is all that you need (and more) to create your own Greenland paddle.


Carving the Greenland Paddle by Matt Johnson
In this You Tube video, based on Chuck Holst's instructions (below), Matt guides you step-by-step to make your own Greenland paddle.


Making a Greenland Paddle by Chuck Holst.
Excellent information and well illustrated. Chuck's directions are highly recommended and have been used to create hundreds of Greenland paddles. The sizing information and woodworking tips are very good. This article is based on John Heath's paddle plans.

Paddle Poll From Qajaq USA Forum.
Gabriel Romeu compiled this extensive list of paddle dimensions from responses gleaned on the Qajaq USA forum. This information should be useful to anyone who needs additional information on paddle sizing. Also see Roy Martin's Paddle Survey from the MASIK newsletter.

Carbon Fiber Greenland Paddle
Duane Strosaker's original article is no longer available, but Björn Thomasson has provided additional information on Duane's original method.

Cuts of Lumber
Solid wood paddles for a Greenland paddle are usually made from vertical-grain (quartersawn) or riftsawn softwoods. This gives stability (not prone to warp), stiffness, strength. Hardwoods are often used for tips and edging, but otherwise are not used by most builders due to weight. Confused about how to identify vertical-grain (quartersawn), flatsawn (plainsawn), riftsawn lumber? This link will help.

Greenland Paddles Recorded by Gail Ferris
Gail has created line drawings for four Greenland paddles encountered in her travels. You can follow the links to view her pictures, travel narratives and  kayaking videos.

Greenland Paddles Step-by-Step by Brian Nystrom
Based on the Chuck Holst plans, this book features easy-to-understand directions and over 80 photographs and drawings to guide the reader through all phases of the paddle making process. Includes; selecting tools and materials, designing your paddle, layout, shaping, finishing. Contains helpful tips and tricks for novices as well as the experienced paddle maker. Available from Brian Nystrom.

Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own by Graham Warren, David Gidmark
Although this book documents making canoe paddles, Greenland-style paddle makers can greatly benefit from the contents (Greenland paddles are briefly mentioned). Includes information on wood selection, carving techniques, solid and laminated paddles, wood finishes, using a crooked knife. Details from Amazon.

Greenland Kayaking Audio Glossary
A cooperative effort between Qajaq USA members and Maligiaq Padilla, the audio glossary contains a number of audio WAV files of terms related to Greenland kayaks and kayaking. Recorded in Sisimiut Greenland, July 2002.

View Commercial Suppliers of Greenland-style paddles »
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Making your own Greenland Paddle

Help is online! No matter where you live you can always consult advice for your paddle-making questions on the Greenland forum, or search the archives for answers to past questions.

One of the beauties of the Greenland-style paddle is that not only is it an excellent performer, but it is also an inexpensive, fun and rewarding project to make. Imagine making a paddle for $20.00 that works better than many commercial paddles costing $400.00 or more.

Getting started in Greenland-style is not always easy, because few kayak shops stock good Greenland-style paddles (GPs). There are a few reasons for this, the first being that Greenland-style, while growing, is still not as well known as other recreational kayaking disciplines. The other reason is that a GP is such a personal item, that an "off-the-rack" paddle probably won't fit you very well. Sooner or later many, if not most, G-style kayakers either make or buy a custom paddle. This is not surprising when you consider that a GP must be tailored to your grip size for holding the blades, the loom length for determining your hand spread, and the overall length.

Fun Fact: "Boning" a Paddle

A common practice among some Inuit was using a smooth bone, rubbed hard on the paddle, to compress the surface fibers, close the pores and polish it. "Boning" or "burnishing" a paddle in this way is easy to do and helps harden the surface of a soft, newly sanded WRC paddle. Although a bone is ideal, anything harder than the paddle, as long as it is smooth and rounded, can be used. The shaft of a large screwdriver or a burnishing rod works well.

As a bit of trivia, "boning a bat", using a soup bone or large cow bone, used to be a common practice in the old days of baseball for preparing a wooden bat prior to hitting with it for the first time.