Grip Styles


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I've finally started carving my own paddle. It's ash with perfectly straight grain, along with a dark streak on one side. Beautiful--although I had to buy 2" stock and plane off most of it.

I have always used a symmetrical grip--if fact, I didn't know there were any other styles until I read it in the carving book. I was wondering if anyone prefers asymmetrical grips, and why. My first paddle will be symmetrical, but the second's up in the air right now.
Grip shape

On my straight shaft paddles I try for a symetrical grip. I say try for because any grip formed by hand is going to have slight variations from one side to the other. I paddle a lot with one paddle that is my favorite and find there is a slight difference between the grip sides that fit my hands better one way than the other. Since I brand my paddles on one blade side it is easy to orient the grip for best fit. This is especially important as I paddle sit & switch almost exclusively which means a side change every 3-5 strokes.

My bent shafts are all highly asymetrical. My personal chioce is a large bulky grip for either style of paddle. This is mostly a concession to a pair of increasingly arthritic hands.
Symetrical, absouloutely! The paddle must be able to be used by either hand, using either side of the blade as the power face.

Some like to dedicate one blade face as a power face, but I feel that that severely limits the paddle.

A bentshaft paddle is a different story, the whole thing is self limiting.
Well, the grip's carved... 95% symmetrical. One side of the grip bulges out a little more than the other, but I'm happy.

And I have to agree with you, Douglas, on the bent shaft thing. Last October three friends and I took a six day trip through Quetico. My paddling partner didn't bring his own paddle, and the rental place used bentshafts exclusively! Even in the bow it was some awkward paddling.
I know all too well how difficult it is to make the paddle symetrical, but then I've had over 900 to practice on... I wasn't being critical of anyones abiltity to make it symetrical, just stating that it should be the goal. Making a good paddle LOOKS easy, but its a damn elusive thing to get right.

As for bentshafts, well, as with all paddles, there are good ones, and then there are most of them. They are not de facto bad paddles, when they're good, they're very good. They are a different species of paddle...