I don't think there would be a problem with differential ezpansion-contraction. Wood does that across it width, not along the length of the grain.
Did you state the thickness of your 1.25" strips? I've used douglas fir firring strips to laminate a paddle shaft.
I think I would still prefer Ed's four piece scarf jointed ash gunwales. Not cheap, but it isn't going to bankrupt me.
Recreational Kayak Paddle
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