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Thread: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

  1. #1
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    Default Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    I've lost one of the oars for my tvåmänning. As the aft pair weren't built for the boat I decided to make two new oars and keep the remaining aft oar as a spare.

    First a picture of the boat we're talking about


    These oars are very simple and robust and very well suited for rowing in hard wheather. The boat is a Gotlandic 20' double ender with two sets of rowlocks, it's 6,5' wide.

    You start of by getting two 12' pieces of 2X4 dimensional lumber, which in my case would be 45X95mm.
    The measurements here could hardly be critical, I've made a drawing in imperial dimensions because the tolerances could scaresly be better that the odd inch here and there so no need to talk about half a mm.
    Ive managed to find two heavy pieces with straight fibers that run all through the entire piece. All construction lumber here in sweden is spruce.
    They smell heavily of resin, enough to make your eyes water when you cut it with the Skil saw, so they ought to hold up for a long time, be very choosy when you pick through the pile!



    I've used one of the original oars as a template and just marked of the different measurements, the drawing is a bit tidied up to give you easier numbers to work with.



    Then we just start cutting away the bits that aren't part of the oar.



    The original oars are 3" wide in the blade, I thought that I should keep the the whole 4" to see of I get some more power from these oars. If not they will be reduced.
    Last edited by Ryden; 04-27-2012 at 06:03 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    The blade is thinned towards the end, the thinning starts 2,5' up the shaft, and run down to 3/4 thickness at the tip. Just a straight line, no curve.


    Do not try to cut it single handedly on a bandsaw with a worn blade




    Crap!

    Well, well just put the trusty Surform to the task.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    OH NOES!!!

    The trusty surform died on me!


    Off to the lokal hardware store for some new tools...

    This $9.99 special plane is all you can get on a sunday afternoon


    But after an hour of honing both the sole and the blade it came out ok.
    I forgot to take pictures during the forming of the blade.
    Here you can see the ridge at the back of the blade as well


    The ridge doesn't extend all the way to the shaft, it stops 10" before and form a triangular plateau
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    I don't know the reason why it makes that triangle, if it is to strenghten the transition, if it's for the looks or if it's just what happens due to the angles involved.
    Probably the last
    Anyway the ridge is 1/2" so we'll bring out great-granddads old thingomabob (i have no idea what it's called in english) and mark it off from the back.


    Now that the blade is done almost all of the crappy cu tmarks from the bandsaw is gone, the other oar will be planed without sawing.
    It's time for the shaft. Mark out 1/2" on both sides of the edges and chamfer it.



    It's hard work so we'll let the boy scouts do it
    Last edited by Ryden; 04-27-2012 at 05:55 AM.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    The plane won't reach all the way to the ends of the shaft so we'll use a spokeshave for the corners.


    All thats left now is to form the handles, these are angled forward from the oard body and are milled round to 1½"


    These will be made this weekend hopefully and then they will get a few coats of tar/linseed/turpentine. The handles get oil only.
    That mixture is called Roslagian mahogany here
    Last edited by Ryden; 04-27-2012 at 05:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    These oars work with a single thole pin, they have a wooden keeper screwed to the back of the oar and can't be feathered. Hence the long and narrow blades.
    This keeper where originally a hank of either spruce or juniper roots braided together. I'll try to make new thole pins from lilac now that we are cuthing the hedges, it's very hard and strong.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    I want to see more pictures of that boat with the oars in it!
    If this post did not meet all of your needs, please consult this thread for more options.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    You'll have to wait a while. it's still under tarpauline.
    Hopefully I can tar it tomorrow if the sun comes out.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    We'll start the roundover of the handles with the round Surform


    The Surforms are the best thing since the invention of girls! I've used them from everything from boats to houses to furniture to tools to guitars to wooden statues to a wooden M240 MG to use as a prop. I even used it to shred chocolat on a cake. I cannot say this enough, the two tools you need to get are a ryoba pullsaw and a surform.

    Start by chamfering the corners, that will give a better symmetry.


    Then round the edges


    Repeat on the other side


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    Probably the greatest thread in the history of the WoodenBoat Forum.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    A bit of emerycloth will remove the last splinters. We don't want too smooth a surface, a bit of fuzziness wil stop your hands from blistering.


    The only thing remaining is the keepers.


    This looks like a good fit


    There you go! I only had scrap wood enough for one keeper, I'll try to find some more tomorrow
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    First coat of tar/oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Great thread. Tack så mycket!
    I like that nifty pistol grip brush.

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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Very neat project on so many levels! I'll be anxiously awaiting the next installment
    George

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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Forsen View Post
    Great thread. Tack så mycket!
    I like that nifty pistol grip brush.
    Tack själv!
    The brush is called a "hornsugga", a horned sow, the grip was traditionally made from a sheep's horn.
    Last edited by Ryden; 05-15-2012 at 05:42 AM.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Ta da!
    Here's the five oars with the tiller.


    I could never have managed this without my trusty LPBC, I will give alms to the holy Mother Merlot for her generously keeping a hand over me while I was working with several sharp tools and no band aids.


    Next, we wake the sleeping beauty!
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Nice , Just finished taring my vattern-snipa. Cant say i get on with the fixed oars in heavy wind,even with narrow blades. Your boat looks far more burdsome than Vrixlos.

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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    I like vätternsnipor, their sharper lines make them look really slick.There is one in St Rör where I have my boat in the summers, the only time I can out race it is in low wind when I can fly all five sails.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    The boat is at the Spa soaking moisture into every pore of her planking while the floorboards get another coat of tar.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Hello Ryden /

    With my heritage firmly rooted in the Canadian Maritimes, where builders and fishermen use asphalt cement on the roofs of their houses and the bottom of their boats, you might say I come by my interest in the combination of tar and linseed oil honestly.

    Recently I was rereading an article on the construction of BLIXTEN in issue #105 of WB where they referred to “the medicine”, a mixture of linseed oil, tar and chalk dust. And then here you are with a fine description of the building of a pair of traditional oars, and finishing with tar and oil. While I don’t have a small boat that could do those oars justice, I have been looking for a linseed oil based finish that is very dark, as per your tiller and existing oars.

    My intended use will be as a coating over some existing ironwood/gumwood?? rubrails and guards that are significantly dark-stained around fastenings and bungs.

    Two questions arise as to your finish. I’m wondering how many coats of your oil/tar ‘medicine’ is required to get that dark hue and I am also wondering if there is a noticeable leaching of the tar aspect of your finish to surrounding surfaces over time. I’m guessing this is minimal as from the pictures your finish seems to extend up to the handles of the oars.

    Tks for this thread, and your time. / Jim

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Hi Jim!
    Many's the boat that have been painted with black varnish on their bottoms here as well, but it doesn't smell as good as pine tar!

    The dark colour doesen't depend on many coats of tar per se, the finish will darken in sunlight over the years.
    The boat was built in 2000 and I bought it in 2007, it was very dark then already. I expect that my oars will take a few years to get the same colour as the old ones.
    One more thing to consider is that in order to have the "right" look you have to saturate the wood with the tar/oil so that it will form a varnish like skin on top.

    I've never noticed any creep from the tar, on very dry wood the mixture will creep but no more than plain oil would have. Once it's dry I never seen any creep.
    The sheer strake on my boat is painted white, the tar hasn't crept under that either.

    If you really want a black finish, you have to get inferiour tar. Good tar is in colour somewhere between honey and molasses and should be almost free of soot. I have a gallon can of tare/oil mixture and I just keep filling it up when it gets low. Now that I tarred the oars I got a lot of unsightly specks in the finish so I strained the mixture to another can. What was left was about two cups full of a black rubbery mass of soot particles and linseed slum that's been deposited over the years.

    Good luck!
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    A bit of a thread drift, the pintle has been sorely ground away by the gudgeon


    Hmmm... Doesn't really look like it worn down, more like corrosion. Deep piting.


    Brought out the trusty stick welder and built it back up using a hardfacing stick used on plough bills and such. Supposed to be 60RC, that's really hard so it should last for a while.


    I'll put a zink anode on thge pintle base when I remount it to the stern
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryden View Post
    The boat is at the Spa soaking moisture into every pore of her planking while the floorboards get another coat of tar.
    Vrixlos was looking exactly the same last week,i let her lay for 5 days the pumped her out,my spit plank already swollen shut. Maybe you could explain the difference between pine tar oil and tratjara ( have not swedish keyboard to get the dots over the a).
    Some people say its the same thing?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    Det jag kallar pine tar oil här är roslagsmahogny, dvs tjära/linolja/terpentin i lika delar. Pine tar och trätjära är samma sak, i USA kan tar även betyda bitumen.
    Just explained that what I call pine tar oil is a mixture of pine tar and linseed oil.
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    The oars have undergone their first trial of 30 min rowing, seems to work so far...
    I'll try to get a picture tonight of the boat with both pair of oars in it.
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    Default Re: Making a pair of traditional Baltic oars

    That is one fine collection of new oars dear Ryden, and very neatly explained too! Glad to read no injuries ocurred, other than your surfoam giving up the ghost like that in the early stages.

    Hope you have a great summer and never forget, Boy Scouts make the best oarsmen while you do that hard part of keeping the rhythm smooth!


    Cheers!


    Peter
    Do it,do it,do it,do it,do it,do it,do it,now!
    J.Lennon

    This boat was built with ten thumbs.No fingers were harmed in anyway.

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