View Full Version : Oar grip shape

05-20-2018, 11:02 AM
Hello, and thank you all for all of the inspiration in this forum! Iím hailing from Flagstaff, AZ, and while Iím not currently working on a boat, Iím building myself another set of oars primarily for rowing rafts down the Grand Canyon. Theyíre 10í4Ē, ash core with purple heart laminated onto the loom to make up for the 8/4 ash not being thick enough for my purposes. Iím just about done with them now, with the only major piece left to do being shaping the grips. My last set, and most whitewater oars have a straight grip with no taper and are round so as to be able to use either oar on either side of the boat. As a kayaker, most modern paddle shafts are ovoid for referencing blade angle and comfort, and thus, Iím considering doing the same to these oars. The tricky part in trying to plot it out/think it through, is that Iím not sure what orientation the oval should have relative to the blades. My options, as I see them, are A) long axis in line with the blades or B) long axis 90 degrees to the blades. Kayak paddles are (for the most part) 90 degrees to the blades, and I find this comfortable, however a kayak stroke is a much different movement/motion from rowing. Also of note, rowing in whitewater and most of the flat water too, we push downstream instead of the traditional pulling. Iíve searched the forum and google fairly thoroughly (I think) and havenít found much aside from a mention here or there of someone claiming to prefer oval grips vs round. Any thoughts, reasoning, photos, and amusing anecdotes are greatly appreciated!


Sorry about the sideways photo, but I suppose you get the idea.

David G
05-20-2018, 11:16 AM
I prefer the slight taper shown here --


OR... a shallow barrel-shape.

Gib Etheridge
05-20-2018, 11:56 AM
I prefer oval grips with the long axis perpendicular to the blade and tapered a bit to larger at the outboard end. Besides being more comfortable it's easier and quicker to orient the blades when things get hectic. I like to push-row some, just for a break and to use a different set of muscles, and have found that the oval and tapered shape is just fine for that.

Gib Etheridge
05-20-2018, 01:10 PM
When I said outboard end I meant the end of the grip furthest from the blade. The little finger doesn't require the same diameter grip as the thumb and index. Sorry if I mislead anyone. I'll edit that to inboard end.

Ben Fuller
05-20-2018, 05:06 PM
I do like to round the corner at the end of the grip as I usually have my thumb on around the end, not under the grip. Makes my grip looser and avoids elbow and wrist problems. The Hardanger faering folks do an angled grip, grip angled toward the stern which would help relax the wrist. I'll see if I can find a pic. I've never made them oval in section as I seem to find the right angle without the need. I don't think I'v seen historical grips made oval.