View Full Version : Building Oars for a Dory

12-30-2009, 08:30 PM
I am about to build some oars for an 18' John Dory and I have been unable to get some dimensions for the oars. I know that they should be about 9' long based a recent article in Wooden Boat magazine and the blade should be 4-5/8" wide (based on Shaw & Tenney web site). However I don't know how thick and long the baldes should be nor the diameter and profile of the loom. I plan on using spruce (simply framing 2x from the local lumber yard). If anyone can help me with these questions it would be greatly appreciated Thanks in advance

Bob Smalser
12-30-2009, 08:39 PM
Woodenboat Issue # 127 (Nov ’95) has a good pattern available here:


12-30-2009, 08:56 PM
Here are some patterns that are on the web:

and maybe the most germane:

12-31-2009, 12:47 PM
I found Bob's "web article" on oars very helpful, and got the dimensions from Culler's books. You'll probably have to pick thru the lumberyard spruce to find suitable stock. Consider putting a bead of protective thickened epoxy on the end and lower edges of the blades - very handy to keep the spruce from splitting or denting when rowing in thin water over gravel, or pushing off rocks.

01-04-2010, 05:09 PM
Iain Oughtred has oar plans. Just ask him.


01-04-2010, 06:16 PM
i have built three sets of carved oars, which came out very well. for a quick and dirty set of 8 or 9 footers, you could also bandsaw (or jig saw, or spokeshave, etc.) an elliptical cut on the blade end, and then epoxy a 1/4 inch marine ply blade on there, with a bit of fiberglass reinforcement. i did this for one set of paddles on my recent double paddle canoes, and they were lighter and easier to build than the companion set of carved, laminated spoon bills. probably easier to do it than describe it here. here is a rather silly photo of me holding both, although you can't see the face of the ply blades, which came out very well. the carved blades are noticeably more scooped, for want of a better term. the ply blades perform better, SEEM lighter, but they are also 6" longer, so one might have the perception that they are more efficient...i am not saying they are the most elegant blade out there. but i conceived the idea and had them cut out and glued in about two hours. i rough shaped the oval shaft with a low angle block plane, and it is a nice lightweight piece of lumber yard spruce, such as you describe. total cost might be $20, including the ply.
http://im1.shutterfly.com/procgserv/47b9cc08b3127cce98548e780a1c00000035108AcM2TNy5buD (http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8AcM2TNy5buGKe&emid=sharview&linkid=link3&cid=EMsharview)

01-04-2010, 08:30 PM
Regarding the diameter, unless you plan to use thole pins, you will need to match the diameter to a set of oarlocks- usually 1 7/8 or 2" in order for the button to hold the oar in the oarlock,
I made a set of 1 3/4 diameter oars using clear pine from the local Home Labyrinth. I ripped a 3" wide peice down the middle, then epoxied them together for a little warp insurance. I made the blades from 6" wide clear pine and epoxied them on.
Good luck, Chip.

David W Pratt
01-05-2010, 11:17 AM
What used to be called a staging plank (before OSHA decided all staging must be metal) is an honest 2"x24" about 20' long will furnish stock to make at least two pairs of oars.
Never lend them, you will only regret it.
Good luck.

01-05-2010, 11:33 AM
I built my 8' oars from a 2x12x8' plank of good spruce from the nearby high-end hardwoods supplier. No gluing involved, but the cost was higher because of it.