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Old 09-05-2008   #1
FatmanZ's Avatar
NOCO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 582
Can you shorten Oars?

I have a pair of 9' Carlisle oars. I picked them up used on the cheap, and 7.5' or 8' oars would work better on my 10' raft. Can the oars be cut down without problems? Or are they lined with reinforcement material that get in the way?


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Old 09-06-2008   #2
oarbender's Avatar
ww guide/ frame builder/welder, mobile fabrication gig
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Posts: 247
yes, they are lined, but can be cut. I did a bit of research similar to yours before attempting, and got several options. basically, doing anything other than cutting the shaft at the handle is a pain in the ass. I have tools, so it was pretty easy. I cut the shaft to the desired length, and then sliced the grip outta of the remaning shaft One was smooth, ready to go back, one was a bit rough. a bit of sanding, a couple of beers and a two-part quick setting epoxy, and I was in buisness.

Nothing to it


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Old 09-06-2008   #3
Fruita, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 90
Yeah, I did it about a month ago. Definitely want to shorten them at the handles. Actually, I called AAA inflatables of Denver and they told me everything I needed to know. There is an inner sleeve in the shaft down there a ways, so the handles don't just slide back in. Got to sand them some. Or, as I finally did when I got sick of sanding, file them quite a bit. Basically ya cut to desired length (remembering to account for the length of the handle, too) and then use a dremel or cutting wheel to make a lengthwise cut in the part ya have cut off. Got to be a little delicate so's to not cut into the handle, but then after all you will be sanding this part later, so it's not all that touchy. Handle comes out easy, really. Ya cannot buy a replacement handle anymore so ya must do this part.
I went ahead and got some shot and put it into the hollow handle, with silicone to keep it from rattling, so as to counterweight it a little. Was a pain to find the shot, and didn't really make that much difference.
I used a hair dryer to heat the shaft a little, and put the handles in the fridge for an hour, once they got to be a close fit. Used a rubber hammer to help them go in. I don't think they'd ever come out, but I used a couple screws to finish it. Drill a slightly bigger hole in the metal first, before you put the handle in (since it won't come back out) and then the sheet metal screw will easily pass through the oar shaft and engage into the handle. Piece of cake.
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Old 09-06-2008   #4
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NOCO, Colorado
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Thanks for the info

A fun weekend project, here I go.
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Old 09-06-2008   #5
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SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098

If you haven't started cutting, I've got Carlisle 7.5-ft shafts that I've been using with extensions (for 8.5 footers), and want to go to 9 foot oars. So if you'd like to swap, let me know. I've got 3 shafts. If you only have 2 we can work something out.

cheers, Chip
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Old 11-10-2008   #6
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 15
how did it go

hey z man,

did you get your oars cut down per the recommendations here? if so, how did it go? i have a carlisle i bought used for a spare, and want to cut it down a foot. any additional recommendations from your experience?

i have a pipe cutter (for a nice smooth cut on the shaft), dremmel (for removing the handle with lenghtwise cut), and other tools for sanding the handle down to fit inside the double walled shaft. any other tools recommended or procedure change?

thanks in advance. later.
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Old 11-10-2008   #7
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why cut at the handle

if they are carslile i would cut at the bottom and drill a new hole for the blade insert we did that for our spare oar and i cant even tell which one it is, the handle transfers your power and i wouldn't cut there.

we used a bandsaw and a 1/2" holesaw. bam! done in five minuets, just cut it cleanly or there will be a wedge shaped gap at the end. and dont drill your hole untill the blade seats nicely.

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Old 11-11-2008   #8
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 15
as i understand it, on longer carlisle oar shafts (8' and up) the shaft is double wall for added rigidity. it appears to me the double wall ends where the blade insersts and starts where the handle inserts. if you cut the blade end, you would be into the double wall section making the inside diameter of the new shaft end too small to insert your blade into. i also see some cork in my oars right at the end of the blade insertion area, so that may be an issue too.

on the other end, if you cut the handle off, you still get into the double wall portion of the shaft but the handle can be ground down to allow insertion back into the shaft. a little epoxy and the handle is attached good as new (or better since it is now in the more rigid double wall section).

any one else have experience with cutting down a carlisle oar shaft? later.

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