wooden Oars and Paddles can easily be made at home.
Not only is rowing and paddling great exercise, it is also a lovely
to travel without any noisy, smelly, environmentally unsustainable
correct size of balanced wooden sweeps or paddles for your boat is
not always easy.
By making your own you can tailor them to your needs and make them as
ornate as you desire.
One of the advantages of
making your own set of oars is that you can make them oversize, try
then, chop some off if necessary.
start you will need a rough idea of how long they need to be.
As a rough estimate measure
the beam of the boat then
However this is a very rough
estimate, the optimum length
will depend on a number of other factors.
Some of the factors to take
into consideration are the
boats freeboard, how much effort is required to move her and how
stable she is.
For instance a nice fine dory
will slip along so, you
will need a long oar in order just to keep pace.
At the other extreme an
inflatable which isn’t
directionally stable is better paddled with short fast
And a heavy slow boat will
require something strong and
of medium length.
It is also worth considering
how much spring the shaft
A stiff oar will be hard on
the arms, however if it is
too thin and whippy it may also be too fragile.
Type of blade.
Before drawing out the shape of your oar or
paddle consider the type of
blade which is best for your needs.
The natural assumption is that a large spooned blade would give more
but this depends on the strength of the paddler.
A long narrow blade will be less tiring, easier for distance rowing,
less windage and better balance.
And a flat blade will be easier to make. Many traditional sweeps and
had virtually no blades.
Oar Making Tools.
Buy Boat Books on-line
A very adequate set of paddles can be built using just the minimum of basic handyman’s
However if you want to make
yours from solid blanks it
will be much easier if you have access to a band saw.
The traditional tool for
hollowing out a spooned blade is
a 'bollow' plane, these have a convex sole and a blade curved to
These can still be bought or
you could even make your own
wooden 'bollow', or adapt a small wooden
There are also a variety of
such as those used by chair makers or
are designed to scoop out. spoke
rasps and draw knives
For shaping the shaft a plane
or drawknife can be used to
take off the corners and round off with sandpaper.
for oars and paddles is spruce as it is the lightest.
and ash are more suitable
when strength rather than
weight is the priority.
it may be worth
considering making your blades
from a hardwood if they are likely to be subject to a lot of abuse.
will also need a good
quality waterproof glue and
something to make the ‘leathers’ from.
can, if you wish,
be made form
real leather however a neat binding of twine will do the job as will a
of suitably sized hose.
for finishing, the wood
will need protecting with
varnish or wood oil, you could use paint but why hide that lovely
Here are three
methods for making oars and paddles.
first is for making a pair
from one piece of pine
this method may produce
a pair well matched for
weight and stiffness, it is rather wasteful of wood and won't be easy
without a band saw.
to get sufficient board,
free of knots and with
straight grain, you may have to buy much more than you need.
cut, use a plane or draw
knife and sander to work
these pieces to their final shape.
square handle can be
planed along the corners to make
them eight sided then planed again to make them sixteen sided, finally
to produce a cylindrical shaft.
A much easier
and more economical method is to use lengths of 2x2inch /50x 50mm
grained Spruce or a similar timber.
need two lengths equal to
the finished length of your
oar or paddle.
two 2ft/600mm lengths for
the short lengths
diagonally to give two
clamp and glue these to
the ends of the
Buy Boat Books on-line
can do some shaping before gluing
but leave the edges flat
for ease of clamping.
the glue is set and the
clamps are off, shape and
taper but don’t leave a feathered edge.
end of the blade can be
bound with a copper strip
(don't use too many tacks) or it can bound with a binding of twine.
the last 6inch/ 150mm as
a hand grip and add a
‘leather’ to the part which will go in the rowlock.
very cheap and simple paddle
can be quickly knocked
together from a scrap of
and a wooden
cut a slot lengthwise
in one end of the
the paddle shape by
folding some stiff card,
transfer to the plywood and cut out.
the blade into the slot
in the shaft, drill three
holes and through fasten.
a Sculling Paddle
This is how I recently built a quick, easy and rough
The bend in the shaft at roughly 1/3 of the distance from the
handle end and at roughly about 20 degrees from the blade.
The bend was created while laminating the outer strips to the
central shaped piece.
Below is how the paddle is used
It can also be used very
easily one handed by just holding the handle.
off with a good overall
sanding, but don’t
smooth the handles too much, leave a little grip.
use three coats
but don’t coat the handles, varnished handles are prone to causing
blisters and calluses, it is better to soak them in something like Tung
over any twine
binding as it will help hold it in place. Varnish
Rowing and paddling is thirsty work.
or later you are going
to have to park your boat
alongside the dock, so you can pay a visit to the local hostelry.
boaters in this day and
age have come to terms with
having to lock and secure their dingy with a padlock and some chain but
about the oars?
could take them with you
but not many bar owners will
welcome you carrying a pair of wet paddles.
you won’t stop a
determined thief, a simple
method of securing the oars will deter the prankster or opportunist.
a believer in keeping such
light so that any determined thief won’t do too much damage.
of how cheaply or
easily you have made your
paddles, you don’t want to find them gone when you walk/stagger back to
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