If you’re wondering how I rounded and tapered the shaft section below the counterbalance and blade, I started by going from 4 sides to 8 sides, then 8 sides to 16 sides, then I took off the edges to get 32 sides, then I did the rest by eye/sanding. To get the taper, I roughly used this method:
. Basically, the diameter of the resulting shaft will roughly correspond to the wide of the square beam you use to scribe the lines. So you just make a mark for the lines on the fat end of the shaft based on the desired diameter and make a mark on the bottom end of the shaft based on the desired diameter, and use a straightedge (i.e., straight board with a good edge to draw a line connecting them. Then you just plane off the corners to the line on all four sides. To go from 8 sides to 16 with a taper, you can make a spar gauge, which will follow the taper you created at the previous step. Here’s a how to:
You can also just do it by eye, which is basically what I did because my spar gauge made shitty lines. If you make a spar gauge, use a pencil (not at nail) to scribe the lines down the shaft. Here’s a shot of the oars once that step was finished.
To make the blades, I laminated a strip of cherry (for aesthetics and because I had it) on each side of the dough fir beam, and then I laminated a few pieces of ash outside of that for impact resistance. All blades pieces were ¾” by 1/5” laminated in the center of a 2.5” x 2.5” beam, so I used a drawknife and plane to remove the excess beam and get it flat. Then I traced my blade shape and cut it out with a jig saw (this was my only power tool use except for a palm sander at the end). Here’s some shots of that process:
After that I used a hand plane and spoke shave to shape and thickness the blade. I think I probably left them too thick in the middle there’s a fairly burly rib running down the center that tapers to the blade edges in sort of a convex shape. I probably could have lost some more wood/weight, but I decided to build my first set Skookum as frig, consider them beaters, and see how they hold up. I am currently in the process of fiberglass/epoxy reinforcing the blades, and spar varnishing the shafts. I’ll eventually spar varnish the blades as well. I’ll add rope wrap and grips at the end. Turns out, I’m better at working with wood than with fiberglass and epoxy. That said, I think they’ll be fine once I do the finishing work. Here’s some more recent shots:
Hopefully I’ll have these girls on the water in a couple weeks. My plan is to test them for a while, then build a super duper nice set based on how these work out. I’ll post more pics when they’re done.