1. ## Re: Oar Plans

The cross grain in the shaft on the left is scary.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Holy molies.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by Edward Pearson
Holy molies.

I did some rowing when in university. These oars with holes in them we used for practicing our strokes. You were sitting on a sliding seat on a low barge moored to land, so you were not going anywhere. The holes where there since otherwise the pressure did not reflect that how it would be on the water on a moving rowing shell.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by MN Dave
It is a little like driving with the hand brake on. Very frustrating on a long haul across a large lake with the new, and rather disappointing long blade spoons. Pete liked heavy boats with a lot of carry. Slow heavy boats make for a lot of slip, so the long blades are not dragging as obviously as in a lighter, faster boat.
Makes sense.
For a fixed stroke speed, this pivot point would move further outboard the faster the boat moves, right?

Is there then an optimum position for this pivot point at the design boat speed?

Does that mean that the submerged blade length should in fact be calculated from these two relative velocities? (Assuming that overall length has already been determined by one of the many available formulas).
Having said that, should oar length calculations not also take these velocities into account?

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by whiskeyfox
Makes sense.
For a fixed stroke speed, this pivot point would move further outboard the faster the boat moves, right?

Is there then an optimum position for this pivot point at the design boat speed?

Does that mean that the submerged blade length should in fact be calculated from these two relative velocities? (Assuming that overall length has already been determined by one of the many available formulas).
Having said that, should oar length calculations not also take these velocities into account?
Yes, the water pivot moves outboard with increasing boat speed. It moves inboard with increasing force on the oar (more slip). Steever does not show a calculation for optimum blade length vs those two variables. The efficiency would be maximum for a fixed, no-slip pivot at the tip of the oar (a blade with no length), so any real oar is best (for efficiency) to make it as wide as can be managed.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Would anyone be willing to post a "revised" version of the diagram in The Long Oars of Pete Culler http://www.riverswest.org/uploads/1/...uller_oars.pdf. I have seen that design on many websites but all of them are using a version where it is hard (if not impossible) to see the dimensions. I am most interested in the width of the oars shaft at the narrowest point in the neck (and the blade dimensions) but would like to see all of the dimensions clearly. I think it says that the neck tapers to 1 1'/4" but am not really sure.

7. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by darroch
I can't help Ben with any of his questions, but while we're waiting for someone who can...

Can anyone explain how to cut the hollow out of the Culler oars? I bought a gouge because I couldn't think of anything better 10 years ago and I thought it might be a chance to "master" a new tool. I won't say how long I spent with that gouge on those 8 hollows - but it felt like I was more "compressing" the spruce into place than planing it off. I could keep the blade sharp but as the days - yes days - wore on I became increasingly frustrated. I didn't want to touch that nice spruce with any power tool so I suffered on.

Any help would be a great service to the hapless first-timer. Or the hapless second-timer.

[IMG][/IMG]
I use my tablesaw for everything I can and I don't own a curved spokeshave so I'd do it like this . https://woodgears.ca/cove/

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## Re: Oar Plans

I found a concave spokeshave in a market but it's a bit severe. I have used a coopers curved drawknife for mine. Finished with sandpaper

Lots of interesting curved blades amongst a Coopers kit.

9. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by Ben Fuller
Gacco with his solid shaft oars says that western red cedar will work. I've used a lot of it making qajaq paddles, but never tried it for oars. Has anyone?
If anyone has experience using Western red cedar for oars, it would help those of us who don't live where spruce and quality pine are available. I can get it from a fencing wholesaler. No, my Home Depot does not have lumber worth culling, I've tried. Cheers, Dan

10. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by rgthom
I agree. Many folks argue that long blades are better in rough water, but I like shorter wider blades due to this improved efficiency. Feathering works in waves, even if you just let a wave knock the oar into feather. Steever's oar formulas show short wide blades are more efficient than long narrow. He discusses the water pivot, the point on the oar which is not moving forward or backward in the water. The oar outboard of the water pivot moves backward and pushes the boat forward. If any blade is in the water inboard of the water pivot it pushes the wrong way and wastes effort.
So curragh oars are in efficient?

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## Re: Oar Plans

Dan, I don't think you'll be very happy with Western red cedar. It is a pretty brittle wood. I am almost certain the shafts would fracture pretty quickly unless glassed and or laminated.
It just isn't very strong in tension:
http://www.woodworkweb.com/woodwork-...strengths.html

12. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by Bill in Oregon
Dan, I don't think you'll be very happy with Western red cedar. It is a pretty brittle wood. I am almost certain the shafts would fracture pretty quickly unless glassed and or laminated.
It just isn't very strong in tension:
http://www.woodworkweb.com/woodwork-...strengths.html
My first choice to make oars is spruce, but I do have a pair of old oars made of red cedar - they have had at least two owners before coming to me (technically I only have them on loan, a long loan) so they have been used for many years. I find them very good, without any glass or other reinforcement. They are currently on loan to a friend with my Gloucester Gull so can't give you the dimensions but they are quite graceful as well as strong enough.

Jamie

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## Re: Oar Plans

Jamie, I never would have guessed western red would make a decent oar. Good to know.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by rowerwet
So curragh oars are in efficient?
The shorter wider blades are more efficient, but will be more heavy to pull. Therefore you often see narrower blades (the curragh oars are the extreme of this) when the oars are to be used for extensive periods of time (and/or to stand a lot of abuse).

I personally think that shorter wider blades make a lot of sense if the boat is matching the oars' performance in the sense of being very light and quick to row. When the boat gets more heavy or is slower, a narrower blade may be a better match, especially if rowing further than the Olympic 2K.

15. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by Joost Engelen
The shorter wider blades are more efficient, but will be more heavy to pull. Therefore you often see narrower blades (the curragh oars are the extreme of this) when the oars are to be used for extensive periods of time (and/or to stand a lot of abuse).

I personally think that shorter wider blades make a lot of sense if the boat is matching the oars' performance in the sense of being very light and quick to row. When the boat gets more heavy or is slower, a narrower blade may be a better match, especially if rowing further than the Olympic 2K.
I disagree. If ( I am sure) shorter wider blades are more efficient, the it follows that you put in less work for the same driving power. Interestingly this becomes more obvious with heavier boats to row.
The long blades work better in large multi-oar boats, as when rowing as a team in tandem the strokes in the water tend to be short and quick, not so much pulling as jerking. Then the long blade works well.
A pulling boat is best fitted with relatively short wide oars.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by gilberj
I disagree. If ( I am sure) shorter wider blades are more efficient, the it follows that you put in less work for the same driving power. Interestingly this becomes more obvious with heavier boats to row.
The long blades work better in large multi-oar boats, as when rowing as a team in tandem the strokes in the water tend to be short and quick, not so much pulling as jerking. Then the long blade works well.
A pulling boat is best fitted with relatively short wide oars.
Yes and no. The shorter wider blades tend to have more surface area and are therefore harder to pull (unless the boat is easy enough to move). So for heavy boats some slip may be good (making the pull less efficient) to be able to do it all day.

The term "efficient" is a bit misleading in my opinion if comparing apples and oranges.

But again, I could be wrong.

17. ## Re: Oar Plans

I am not sure the blade of wider oars are larger area. The problem with the long oars is that the centre of force is about 1/3 of the blade length from the end, and the portion of the blade inboard has higher pressure on the forward side rather than the back side, as the oar pivots. This works well on big heavy boats because you do not stroke so much as jerk...the power is applied in short power strokes rather than a long pulling stroke. If you have ever rowed a lifeboat or a whaler, this is the most effective way. I note that rowing shells use relatively short-wide blade oars, but then they use a long stroke.

I accepted the traditional wisdom of long narrow blades for a proper pulling boat, until I borrowed a pair of very nice spoon blade oars, where the blade was about 20% shorter and a little wider than my similar pair....~same length over all (about 1" shorter overall), same length between the oar leathers, same boat. I found them much easier to row at cruising speed, I could immediately feel the difference. I had to re-think my opinions regarding oars. I now have a pair exactly the same as those shorter blade oars.

18. ## Re: Oar Plans

Very interesting thread. I've been using Barkley Sound spoon blade oars (shorter and wider than the Culler straight blade oars) on a 17' Whitehall-style wherry. I would call it a "proper pulling boat". Fixed seat. Beam at the waterline is around 30" or so - although I'll have to measure it to confirm - so it's a compromise between a performance-oriented wherry like the CLC Merry Wherry or similar boats designed for a sliding seat, and the more traditional working Whitehalls that are a bit wider. I wouldn't call it a heavy boat at all although it would be very heavy to someone coming from a performance sculling boat of any sort.

I think the spoons suit the boat very well but I've also picked up a set of macon blade sculling oars to try out. They are too long for the boat though, so I'm looking at making or buying some short outriggers to move the oarlocks outboard 6" or so. My guess is that the macon blades will be nice on flat water but the spoons may be more controllable in open water conditions. But experience will tell.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Just finished and tested a pair of WRC Oars (I used the measures on Cullers Plans "a successful spoon" as a rough guide, but with longer, narrower blades)
and found them a lot lighter to row than my spruce oars, but I suppose that is due to the measures/shape/balance not due to the material. (although I have not rowed with a lot of different oars until now)
The amount of flex felt good and they stood the "pull as hard as you can" test.
Even a long stretch in a strong headwind/choppy waves one day with a lot of strain on the oars. I think a bit more material with WRC can still reach the same strength and still be lighter than spruce?
I suppose the main downside is that that WRC gets dents (and I suppose also splits) far easier because it is so soft.
Do you think with doing the opposite (for example a pair of ash oars, but cut thin and flexible) could reach similar properties?

WRC oars

Spruce oars

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by potomac
Got the book. CLC has a set of plans I found, but I'll wait for the book before ordering anything else. I seem to remember Iain Oughtred had a set of plans for oars. I'll ask him about those when ordering some other boat plans from him. Thanks guys.
I built an acorn skiff years ago, (Oughtred) The plans included oars. Easy to build and nice to use.

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## Re: Oar Plans

I've noticed that "Culler oars" show a tapered handle that gets bigger at the thumb end.

Better than straight?

22. ## Re: Oar Plans

Couple of comments. Personally I prefer straight handles with end camfered off so I can wrap my thumb around them. I was never comfortable with Pete's handles. With the wrc oars I wonder if there would be a way to glue a bit of hard wood at the leathers the way old racing oars were set up. That is the usual failure area.

23. ## Re: Oar Plans

For handles I take the diameter down to a good hand grip size, and taper slightly towards outboard (where the little finger wraps around) Keeping in mind some of the users (my wife...) have smaller hands. Like Ben I chamfer the end because I usually wrap my thumb across as well.
The handles are not coated.

24. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by Ben Fuller
.. With the wrc oars I wonder if there would be a way to glue a bit of hard wood at the leathers the way old racing oars were set up. That is the usual failure area.
Ben,
That sounds interesting. Can you comment on how the hardwood is spliced in or overlaid? Anybody have a picture? I'm imagining a 1/2x2x14" piece spliced in where the oarlock bears.
I might combine a harder bearing surface with a twine or cord wrap.
Thanks, Dan

25. ## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by snaildrake
Ben,
That sounds interesting. Can you comment on how the hardwood is spliced in or overlaid? Anybody have a picture? I'm imagining a 1/2x2x14" piece spliced in where the oarlock bears.
I might combine a harder bearing surface with a twine or cord wrap.
Thanks, Dan
I don't think I have a pic of an old racing oar. Next time I'm someplace with old rowing gear I'll see what I can find.
They were glued up oars, often with hollow centers to keep weight down. Easy if you are using a square oar with a square lock. It could be done with a round oar by insetting hardwood when the oar blank is squared up, and making sure there is enough of it so that what you want is left after 8 siding and rounding.

Ben

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## Re: Oar Plans

My interpretation of the sculling oars, yellow cedar and maple shafts, red cedar blades. These are 9'6", about 5 1/2 pounds, fit tight in sculling gates, and extremely stiff.

rgds

Rick

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## Re: Oar Plans

On the subject of getting the hollow, obviously a hollow plane is nice, as is a round spoke shave. Otherwise, take a paint scraper and round the edge on a grinder or belt sander. Scraping it may take a while, but it can be done, and you'll get a nice result. for my quick and dirty set of oars, I just pared it out with a chisel at 45 degrees to the grain. Then take some rough sandpaper and wrap it around something cylindrical, and use that to smooth things out. I've found that the bottom of a wine bottle is a good radius for this.

As for plans, I've used Culler's information and basic dimensions to come up with my own plans. Look at pictures, look at some other people's dimensions, and you'll get a pretty good sense of what seems right. There are good rules of thumb, but it's not the end of the world if your oars vary a little bit from what somebody else's. Oars are a very personal thing, so nothing is absolutely set in stone.

To Ben- first of all, Hi. You may not remember me, but we spoke at this past Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. I was one of the guys working on the Mount Vernon Colonial Bateau. We had an incredibly interesting discussion on colonial boat types, and I'm still processing all the information that you gave us. So I'd just like to say thank you for the time you took to talk with us. Anyway, there's a really cool set of old racing spoons that hang from the ceiling at the Alexandria Seaport. They are not hollow, but they have a cove carved out of either side of the loom. I wish I had a picture. Essentially, this creates an I beam in cross section. When I eventually get to making a longer set of spoon blade oars for my wherry, I'm going to try this out. I think if I'm smart about the proportions, I could approach the weight of a hollow oar. This type of construction will allow more time making shavings, and less time running machines and mixing epoxy, when compared to making hollow oars. That's a big consideration for me, since I spend enough time making noise and mixing chemicals when I'm on the clock. However, I think the I beam oar would also be a good contender for laminated construction, and it would be much quicker than a hollow lamination. I don't see why it shouldn't be just as strong, if not stronger than a hollow oar, and I think it would flex more like a solid oar.

Does anyone know anything about this type of oar? Are there any reasons why I don't run across them more often? Apologies if my description doesn't make any sense. I'll try to remember to take a picture of them this weekend.

28. ## Re: Oar Plans

I remember there were a bunch of these in Garafalo's shop. I think these might have been three piece glueups. Very simple. Next time I get to the Mystic boat collection which has lots of old racing oars I'll have a look.

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## Re: Oar Plans

I have a PDF copy of the article I wrote way back on February 15, 2001 for 'Messing About in Boats' that rgthorn is referring to. I'd be happy to send it out to anyone who would like it. It is a (lousy) copy of a not very well printed article in the first place, but it is readable and complete. I have made some improvements on the design since then, but following this article does produce a light, hollow 9'6" oar that tapers from round at the handle to oval where it meets the blade. Anyone who emails me will be rewarded with a copy. And - please feel free to send it on to anyone you like.

Joel Herzel
megaherz48@gmail.com

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## Re: Oar Plans

Originally Posted by rgthom
Yes, the water pivot moves outboard with increasing boat speed. It moves inboard with increasing force on the oar (more slip). Steever does not show a calculation for optimum blade length vs those two variables. The efficiency would be maximum for a fixed, no-slip pivot at the tip of the oar (a blade with no length), so any real oar is best (for efficiency) to make it as wide as can be managed.
this model of an oar in use/ function assumes an oar as only a flat surface generating drag in the water, a traditional narrow blade oar is not being used properly if thusly employed.

A long narrow blade oar functions like a high aspect foil or glider wing, it generates lift as it moves vertically in the water column.

These long narrow oars are particularly inefficient in scull/ crew boats as these boats are sooooo low to the water and a great lenght of the shaft of the oar is submerged. In a traditional boat with greater freeboard this is not an issue, this is why scull type oars work well in a shell but seem to fall very flat compared to the efficient performance of long narrow blades in traditional small craft.

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## Re: Oar Plans

Fascinating thread, folks. I've rowed with a few different types of oars, but not enough to appreciate their subtleties. As with any other piece of a boat, I suspect that the perfect oar design only exists when matched to a boat, a rower and a set of conditions. As someone who rows a lot, I look forward to making my own someday. For now, I really like my Shaw & Tenney Spruce oars.

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