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I'm looking to embark on making a set of oars. Before anyone says anything, I am not looking to do it to save money (I already have cataracts), but I would like to keep costs down- at least for my first set. Having read through plenty of threads here (DIY squaretops, etc) and wooden boats, I think I have a decent idea of the process.

Problem is, I'm in the southeast. I'm having a pretty difficult time locating spruce or Douglas fir, unless I am willing to pay about the price of a used oar for just the raw material. We have plenty of hardwoods, as well as yellow pine and white pine- does anyone have any experience with these woods?

I'm planning to laminate 2 boards to make the shafts, and then laminate on the blades as well with hardwood tips (our rapids are ROCKY) and then maybe fiberglass them. They will be squaretops (2x2) and I plan to use a router to rough out the shaft and then take off material as needed. Any problems with this plan, or suggestions? Thanks Guys.
 

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Do a search. MT4RUNNER et all have made an awesome exhaustive thread about just such a thing. No reason to waste their time rehashing it. If you have specific questions after reading through it, ask there.

I think the thread is DIY squaretops
 

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yeah, feel free to add your question/comment to the DIY Squaretops if you want...or if not, we can continue the convo here in this thread.


I don't know personally of white pine or yellow pine for oars, but do know of southern yellow pine for workbenches, and it seems to have quite similar properties as douglas fir. I'd assume that white pine is softer? Is it somewhat like spruce?


If you've read up on traditional boatbuilding, the tradition wasn't to use some fancy imported wood from across the country or overseas. Spruce, cedar, and teak are fantastic woods, but centuries of boats were built with oak and pine. Sassafras was a wood that was frequently used for paddles in your part of the country, but I don't know if it can be had in long enough lengths for oars? Cherry is another common oar wood..you would probably want to find something as old as possible to find tighter grain.


More important than species--find wood that is straight-grained. Grain runout is an oar killer. Even a pin knot is a bad idea because the grain will run around it. I like your idea to laminate the wood. Each half will have a slightly different grain orientation and will reinforce the other half...and minimize the risk of a crack or breakage.


2x2 is not that large of a squaretop relative to the blade sizes we frequently use. Consider 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" to carry more weight above the oarlock.



Absolutely reinforce the tip/edges with hardwood, and a few layers of fiberglass on the very tips (I generally use 3-4 layers of 6oz glass..it does give a slightly bluish tint with that much glass thickness).


And be ruthless about thinning your blade edges. You need far less thickness than you need, and an ounce saved there is the equivalent of 2oz up at the handle--you'll appreciate light swing weight. Any blade weight can be right in your tip protection where it's needed most.



Cheers!
 

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Building oars is fun (ahem close to therapy) and I have learned a huge amount from all of the threads on the Buzz.
Biggest lessons
Thin the blades, and then make them thinner.
Thin the blades more
Know that the last pair you make will be way better than the first pair
Know that if they never crack/snap/shatter they are probably way too strong (heavy)
Know that they will get beaten up.
Having hardwood on the edges and tips can allow softer wood on the body of the blade.

Wood species matters. I would probably stay away from SYP (southern yellow pine) because it is very heavy and far weaker than ash. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is taking out ash in the north east, so it can be had on the cheap.

The last set of oars I made were a cheap oar challenge out of Home depot framing lumber. They get my vote for first oars to break but they are light and whippy and have black walnut tips, so I am planning on strapping spares to the frame and taking them to the Hudson this summer and see what happens.


Making sure you have clean grain is very important and laminations make a big difference too

Get a spokeshave. you will thank me later.

Amazon has really cheap one inch roundover bits for a router to make the shafts rounder, but you want to chew off as much wood as possible before putting that bit on. and make sure you slow the router down!. scary to have that much metal spinning at a crazy high speed.
 

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Ha!

I think I like my number two set the best, but, based on your recommendation I thinned the heck out of my ash/cherry oars and they could soon be my new favorites. The first guide stick I made is definitely my favorite.

I am wondering if it would be a good idea to find all the oar threads and turn them into a sticky...
 
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