I recently posted an article about paddles for my website - working title is "An Obsessive Consideration of the Canoe Paddle." It's www.mainecampsite.com/paddle.htm My experience with acquiring a good paddle stroke is like Larry's - I paddled a whole lot and found myself unconsciously developing a "Canadian" or "northwoods" stroke. My advice for anyone making a paddle is to make it to suit yourself, especially to trim it so it has a comfortable spring, or flex. Here are a couple of my favorites - the single cherry paddle is a replica of one I found in a New Brunswick museum. The original was of maple. I think it's a Mik'Maq design. The other photo shows the original "Presque Isle (Maine)" paddle and my adaptation. The original is about 100 years old and was made by a local guide. It's Maliseet-influenced design is typical of the Saint John River region.