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Hi all,

My oar rig for my 12' RMR is almost ready for the river, and as I'm getting closer to ordering oars (7.5 footers is what I think I will need for these WV rivers) I have been wondering if I could save some cash building vs buying.

I've priced two of the Carlisle 7.5 footers to my door with blades right @ $300. Now being the frugal, DIYer right out of college with a lump of debut over my head that I am, I was wondering if I could make 3 oars for less than that price. These seems to be some good threads on here as well as some resources online.

I know the DIY game can turn into a hole and you end up spending more than if you were to just go out and buy the product. I wouldn't count in my time towards cost, as it would be a labor of love.

Thanks in advance for any words from the wise.
 

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MT4runner taught me how to build oars, the end product was much sweeter, way lighter, and IMHO as well if not better built than what I could have bought.

Taking into account my trip to Kalispell to see the process, and help in person, ya, I've got more into them than I could have bought a lesser one for, but at the end of the day, I don't think I'd EVER go back to buying oars now that I've got the skillset to make em, or at least make a solid attempt at it.


One question, 7.5 foot oars on a 12 foot boat ? I know you're in the east, but that seems WAY short, I'd think more like a 8.5 or 9 footer minimum, especially should you have weight in the boat


My 2¢
 

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If you want aluminum like carlilse I see no reason you can't quick and easy DIY. Get some 6061 1-7/8 x .0125 tubing. Drill a hole for the blade button, heat shrink like others are doing to rehab their old oars, and add a handle. You could buy a handle or make one.
 

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MT4runner taught me how to build oars, the end product was much sweeter, way lighter, and IMHO as well if not better built than what I could have bought.

Taking into account my trip to Kalispell to see the process, and help in person, ya, I've got more into them than I could have bought a lesser one for, but at the end of the day, I don't think I'd EVER go back to buying oars now that I've got the skillset to make em, or at least make a solid attempt at it.


One question, 7.5 foot oars on a 12 foot boat ? I know you're in the east, but that seems WAY short, I'd think more like a 8.5 or 9 footer minimum, especially should you have weight in the boat


My 2¢
Those are some beautiful oars ya got there, I don't think Id be making anything that flashy. If I were to dive into this project I would sure be drilling you and MT4runner with questions.

From a materials stand point I assume there wouldn't be much more than some straight grain lumber of a stronger species, some fiberglass and some epoxy, is that about it?

I'm confident in sourcing the lumber cheap as I live in the National Forest and have dozens of mills around me. What species are the best for oar building.

As for he 7.5ft oar comment, I thought I did my quick math right for my frame width, but who knows. I will have to look into that more, thanks for the suggestion
 

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As for he 7.5ft oar comment, I thought I did my quick math right for my frame width, but who knows. I will have to look into that more, thanks for the suggestion
I'm with Marshall on this, 7.5 seems really short unless you're rowing something like a Mini-me or a Storm.
 

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This!

If you want aluminum like carlilse I see no reason you can't quick and easy DIY. Get some 6061 1-7/8 x .0125 tubing. Drill a hole for the blade button, heat shrink like others are doing to rehab their old oars, and add a handle. You could buy a handle or make one.
This will work, they are strong and reliable, that heat shrink would fit the bill nicely too, but you really wouldn't have to. I would go 8 1/2 to 9 foot on oar length, you can always cut them shorter with the aluminum tubing....
Also very nice work on those oars MNichols, I have not seen finer work.
 

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Those are beautiful oars.

Spencer, I wished you live closer. I'd sell you some Carlisle oars and Sawyer oar locks cheap.
 

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Those are some beautiful oars ya got there, I don't think Id be making anything that flashy. If I were to dive into this project I would sure be drilling you and MT4runner with questions.

From a materials stand point I assume there wouldn't be much more than some straight grain lumber of a stronger species, some fiberglass and some epoxy, is that about it?

I'm confident in sourcing the lumber cheap as I live in the National Forest and have dozens of mills around me. What species are the best for oar building.

As for he 7.5ft oar comment, I thought I did my quick math right for my frame width, but who knows. I will have to look into that more, thanks for the suggestion

Thank you all for the nice words and comments, I am quite proud of them, but MT4runner deserves the bulk of the praise, I followed his lead on this.



You basically have 2 common woods, Ash and Fir. Mine are fir. Some folks use both laminated together, it's about the flexion of the shaft more than anything, to me anyway.



Funny thing, it's as easy to put some accents into them, as leave it out. Granted the hard maple on the square tops was nothing other than "flash", it was simple to do, and doesn't cost a lot to make them stand out.



What you don't see is in the square tops, there's a hunk of 3/4 rebar which was put in before the shaft sections were laminated for a little extra weight, at 11'6" long, I wanted to make sure the handles were not too heavy for my aging muscles and joints.



A little epoxy, we used US composites, a little wood, a LOT of elbow grease, and most important, patience is all you need.
 

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My little cat (11-1/2') runs 7.5ft minimags. The KBO is the new name for it from Cataract...they've gone up in price. They use the smaller dia locks, or ya gotta custom make some sleeves. If it's a raft and not a phat cat, you'll want normal diameter oars. BTW the KBO blades fit perfectly in 1.5" OD, 1/8" wall round tube.
 

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As sweet as MNichols sticks look, no way do they come in under $100 each after you put down quality glue, wood, sandpaper, finish product, clean up, and time. Plus if you break one?? You start all over again.

IMHO, you can not get cheaper than Carlisle.

Andy H is totally on to something. 7.5 foot wont be long enough, or at least "that's what she is telling me!"
 

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I think your cheapest bet is going to be to buy some used Carslisle's locally, cut them to fit/ drill a new release hole.

If you are patient and can get good deals on materials and tools you can probably do alright for cost, making an extra set or two to sell would probably go a long wags for offsetting cost. I have a narrow 14' air (143E) that I'd guess is about the same width as to boat, it really like 9 1/2' oars. Oars are measured with the blade, my actual sticks are something like 7' long without blades.
 

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I have been trying to build R-1 paddles and a few sets of oars, too, I made a set of ash/cherry oars that are really pretty to look at, but obscenely heavy. Ooops.
They will get reshaped with a disc sander this spring.
I have some ash cedar oars that I really like and have been using either on a JPW culebra or a superpuma (13.5L x 5.5 W) There really is nothing like the spring of wood, but if you use the wrong edge material they can get pretty beat up.
Armed with a block plane, spoke shave , and borrow a few power tools you could have fun making up some really nice sticks. If you can get thin(ner) strips to laminate up you will be in good shape.
I think 7.5 is pretty short and would strongly suggest 8.5. worst case scenario you can decide the are too long, saw them down, carve new handles and be on your way, making a stick longer though is way above my paygrade.
I have had great success with Westsystems epoxy, and they will patiently answer any question you have, and help talk you through. You need to epoxy a 5/8 inch eyebolt into a bowling ball? They can help. (I teach middle school science, and need that sort of thing.)

Big lessons that I have learned (in no particular order)
1) Dont make them too heavy
2) It is not cheating to shape blades with a 5 inch grinder and a flappy disc
3) Use spar varnish over the epoxy to protect them from uv light
4) Use lung protection, sawdust and epoxy dust is bad news
5) Try to keep all the grain in your laminations running the same way
6) Keep your tools sharp (fine grit sandpaper on glass or a granite tile will do a darn good job for way less then diamond/water stones
7) I fiberglass both sides of my blades with an extra layer at the tip, so I try to finish my blades at 5/16 inch thick.
8) Cut a few go/no go gauges to keep and eye on your final depth. I used a piece of 3/4 ply that I drilled with a hole saw and then cut in half to monitor the shape of the shafts, and another peice that I cut the shape of the oar blade with.
9) It will not be perfect but will be fun.
 

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Spencer, fyi... those 7.5' oars I have for sale that you inquired about are from my 12' boat. I wouldn't mind keeping them for real technical low volume runs but I think they're a little short. Overall they work ok but I think 8-8.5' would be ideal. More important than boat length though is the width of your frame. My frame is 54" wide. Centerline on my sabertooth would be 48" but the 54" frame rides just fine and I like the extra leverage.

Mnichols.. Those oars look beautiful, nice work! What are the chances I could bend your ear sometime to learn how you made them? Or maybe trade some sweat equity for a few lessons? I'm fairly handy working with wood and I live in Nathrop.
 

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As sweet as MNichols sticks look, no way do they come in under $100 each after you put down quality glue, wood, sandpaper, finish product, clean up, and time. Plus if you break one?? You start all over again.

IMHO, you can not get cheaper than Carlisle.

Andy H is totally on to something. 7.5 foot wont be long enough, or at least "that's what she is telling me!"

True, but thinwall aluminum oars don't flex, or bite like wood. While I have no idea what the different woods cost that can be used in oars, I'd bet that there isn't more than 3 or 4 hundred in materials in 4 oars. Most of the cost, if you were to cost it, is in labor.
 

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Mnichols.. Those oars look beautiful, nice work! What are the chances I could bend your ear sometime to learn how you made them? Or maybe trade some sweat equity for a few lessons? I'm fairly handy working with wood and I live in Nathrop.

Absolutely, would be glad to share what little I know. I'm a metalworker, welder / fabricator, so working with wood is new to me as of 4 years ago when I learned to build Briggs Dories. I'm still hunting a table saw, but have most else that is needed. I'd REALLY like to find a shaper, but as you know, living where we do, machinery and materials aren't really available, and getting ready for a Feb launch on GC is consuming a lot of my time right now, but given you're so close, PM me and I'll give you contact info
 

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Those are some beautiful oars ya got there, I don't think Id be making anything that flashy. If I were to dive into this project I would sure be drilling you and MT4runner with questions.
You're going to end up with oars that are prettier than Carlisles no matter what you do!

Please do ask away.
Read this thread:
https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/diy-square-top-oars-94513.html

You do need the use of a table saw. Everything else can be done with hand tools. I have a shop full of power tools, but I built my first oars with a table saw and hand tools, and they're still going strong today.


16 years ago:


They have been reshaped and reworked twice, but are still going strong--the three in the middle:




From a materials stand point I assume there wouldn't be much more than some straight grain lumber of a stronger species, some fiberglass and some epoxy, is that about it?
Yep!

Fiberglass use is minimal--just the tips, or if you want, add a couple wraps under the rope wrap to prevent grain crushing under the oarlocks.


I'm confident in sourcing the lumber cheap as I live in the National Forest and have dozens of mills around me. What species are the best for oar building.
Being from the east coast, you'll have a harder time finding the fir I use, but you can probably find some nice straight-grained ash. Sassafras is supposed to be a wonderful canoe paddle wood, but I don't know if you can find clear lengths for oars? Would be worth checking. Hickory or white oak would probably also work well.

My first set were ripped from selected construction grade 2x12's.

As for he 7.5ft oar comment, I thought I did my quick math right for my frame width, but who knows. I will have to look into that more, thanks for the suggestion
Frame width is the LAST thing you want to consider for oar length. I could get really nerdy with a response, but you do probably need 8.5-9' and then figure out how to make your frame carry wider oarlocks. with balanced 8.5' oars, you'll want about 60" between the locks.


Funny thing, it's as easy to put some accents into them, as leave it out. Granted the hard maple on the square tops was nothing other than "flash", it was simple to do, and doesn't cost a lot to make them stand out.

Yep! It's just figured #2 (Walnut). If the OP is on the east coast, figured hardwoods will be easy to find.



As sweet as MNichols sticks look, no way do they come in under $100 each after you put down quality glue, wood, sandpaper, finish product, clean up, and time. Plus if you break one?? You start all over again.
He's a starving college student in the off-season. His time is free.

If you love working with your hands, DIY is absolutely the way to go. Yes, it's ~$100/oar for materials only.


If you don't enjoy the build process, Sawyer square tops are cheap, relatively speaking.


IMHO, you can not get cheaper than Carlisle.
That is true in so many ways!
 

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Congrats on having debut over you head instead of debt! ;)

Cant imagine you'll find decent wood and buy a tool or two that you need cheaper than you'll find carlisles, esp used.

For a technical river oar I would use an 8.5 on a 12' rmr, typically i'd run 9's. You can buy a 9' used carlisle if thats what you can find and cut the handle end. If you buy bigger than 9 you'll need something to turn down the OD of the handle as you'll run into the inner shaft on the carlisle.

If you are running technical stuff, That would need a shorter than optimal oar I would imagine a bunch of rock stroking will come into play. That would make going the carlisle route with a replacable blade more attractive. Bust off the blade on a nice homemade oar and you be sad as well as starting over.
 

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Congrats on having debut over you head instead of debt! ;)

Cant imagine you'll find decent wood and buy a tool or two that you need cheaper than you'll find carlisles, esp used.
DIY isn't for everyone.

And I still agree you can't get cheaper than Carlisles!!
 
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