I thought I would try shaping the grips on these new oars with an oval cross section . The goal is to have a more ergonomic shape and at the same time be able to know blade angle without having to look.
I've indexed handles with a flat area before, but this should be an improvement. I find that when I row for a long time with round grips I get cramps in my hands, especially if they are too small, but I never get cramps when splitting firewood, so these grip cross sections are traced from the end of a splitting maul handle.
The oars are 8' 2" long, with pretty long blades, so they are quite heavy outboard, much too unballanced for comfortable rowing, so I drilled a 7/8" hole 12 1/4" into the end and let in 12" of 3/4" lead dowel, about 2.25 pounds, bedded in epoxy. The epoxy is what you see on the end. The oar will make one hell of a club if a bear comes swimming up to the side of the boat some night.
To make the dowel I poured lead into 3/4" copper pipe with a cap on the bottom end and the tube stood upright in a 1" hole bored 3" down into the top of a section of log I use as a chopping block. Once it had cooled I knocked the cap off of the end, sawed the ends clean to 12" with the mitre saw, then made 2 shallow rips the length of the tubing and the depth of the tubing thickness on the table saw and removed the tubing halves, leaving a lead dowel. For some reason the lead doesn't stick to the copper. One of them had to be redone due to the presence of too many air bubbles, I had poured it with the lead not hot enough.
The only difficult part of the process was boring the hole, 12 1/4" is a long way to drill a 7/8" hole into a 1 3/4" loom without running out. Indeed, I kept checking with a test dowel to see how it was going and had to "steer" the auger some to correct a couple of times for each oar. I was very nervous doing that and decided that if I were to do it again I would laminate up the loom and leave a square mortise for the first 12 1/4" and pour a square lead bar to fill it.
The first photo is of the four 9' blanks, before being cut to length and the looms counterbalanced and the handle shaped. I sat in the boat out in the yard and pretended to row to determine oar length and decided on 2 at 98" and 2 at 108". They are yellow cedar from driftwood, a 2" X 2" shaft with 1" material glued on to provide the width necessary for the blades, the best use of material. The tips are glassed for wear resistance. The epoxy is protected from UV with paint.
So....I'm wondering if anyone else has tried oval grips. What did you think?
Sorry about the wrong order of things here, I'm afraid that if I try to rearrange things I will wind up deleting the text and have to start over. I'd rather watch a movie, so here it is as is.