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Thread: Springiness of oars

  1. #1
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    Default Springiness of oars

    Peter Culler talks in "on wooden boats" p221 about using different grain directions when building oars to a springer or stiffer oar. Beyond saying "stiff [is] sometimes a requirement, sometimes not" and "a fairly stiff shaft and a springy blade [a] good combination in some craft" he says nothing about when different stiffness / springiness would be desirable!

    My interest is in making oars for my Drake
    http://clintchaseboatbuilder.blogspo...boats.html?m=1
    Osbert
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    Scratch, a Welsford Walkabout, and Selkie, a Clint Chase Drake 17 rowboat

    http://forthsailoar.osbert.org

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Try and get hold of 'Oars for Pleasure rowing: their design and use' by Steever.

    Broadly a flexible oar shaft can be used to store energy at the catch and release it slightly later in the stroke when it will provide more propulsion, reduce blade speed at the catch to reduce blade slip, allow an oarsman to get more vertical in the body and reduces boat energy loss from surge at the catch. It can be made from choice of material, scantling and grain orientation. It can also reduce shock loads on hands and arms to reduce fatigue over long distances.

    Its discussed in the book along with reference dimensions of many boat types among many different oar aspects.

    Ed
    Last edited by keyhavenpotterer; 07-31-2014 at 03:58 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    I made a pair of oars as an experiment, using some fiberglass tubes I already had:



    They turned out much softer than expected (everyone comments on how much they flex) and I expected that part of the experiment was a failure. After using them for a while, though, they are now my favorite oars! The soft catch reduces shoulder stress, and the stored energy gives a kick at the end of the stroke (as Steever notes). Now I am wondering how to build an all wooden set with the same flex.

    -Rick

  4. #4

    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    The oars I use with my Guideboat have a nice flex to them one set is Maple and another set is Ash. Now whenever I row with stiff oars it just feels like something is missing, and it isn't as much fun. But then again not much can compare to a Guideboat in my opinion.
    Jim

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    I like sorta springy in an oar. Not in a paddle, though. Zero flex at all in a paddle for me.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Thanks folks! Sounds like I should be looking for some spring. Still curious as to way different boats will require different degrees of spring in their oars.

    Quote Originally Posted by keyhavenpotterer View Post
    Try and get hold of 'Oars for Pleasure rowing: their design and use' by Steever.
    Why are so many good books unavailable?!
    Osbert
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    Scratch, a Welsford Walkabout, and Selkie, a Clint Chase Drake 17 rowboat

    http://forthsailoar.osbert.org

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    I'd say to study racing oars, as they've had to put the most effort into determining the exact amount of flex / spring that is most efficient. As above I enjoy the feeling of the spring or snap-back in my more flexible spruce (and carbon fiber) oars, but imagine that when rowing in heavy swell or choppy conditions it could be a drawback. And of course you'd want a stiffer oar for a heavier boat, particularly one rowed in rough conditions.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    If you're a beginning rower... all the nuance will be wasted on you. I don't know your circumstance - but you could just as easily start with a purchased pair of decent oars (Gull, or the like)... while you ponder the particulars of your fabrication. This will also give you a test of the length. Even the designer's published recommendations are not cast in stone, and should be adjusted sometimes.

    If you just want to build ONE pair of oars... and have done forever... there are a lot of factors to consider. Get the book. Read what Oughtred and Welsford have published about oars. Think about what sort of rowing you'll be doing, how much, where, and under what conditions. Where on the durability vs. weight spectrum do you want to be?
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    If you're a beginning rower... all the nuance will be wasted on you. I don't know your circumstance - but you could just as easily start with a purchased pair of decent oars (Gull, or the like)... while you ponder the particulars of your fabrication. This will also give you a test of the length. Even the designer's published recommendations are not cast in stone, and should be adjusted sometimes. If you just want to build ONE pair of oars... and have done forever... there are a lot of factors to consider. Get the book. Read what Oughtred and Welsford have published about oars. Think about what sort of rowing you'll be doing, how much, where, and under what conditions. Where on the durability vs. weight spectrum do you want to be?
    I've read welsford; I row my Walkabout frequently in calm water, choppy seas, and in swell; I've rowed it 12 miles in a race and performed well, though very mixed boats and mixed crews. I row in St Ayles skiffs in all conditions. My Walkabout oars are 9' store bought doctored to lighten and narrow the blades as per Welsford:
    http://forthsailoar.osbert.org/2012/11/25/oars/

    I'm into fixed seat recreational rowing, when I have time day long cruises, more usually a couple of hours grabbed here and there. I like to attend sail caledonia, the Scottish raid: that's the nearest I get to racing.

    I'm building drake to have a boat that's easier and quicker to launch, so I hope to row more.

    So, I'm a fairly experienced rower, but I've not rowed in lots of different boats nor used lots of different oars. I don't feel I have the experience to know how much spring or stiffness is right for a boat like drake! I wish Pete Culler had explained what sort of springiness suited what sort of boats.

    I'm keen to make a good pair of oars for the drake. I don't plan to make a habit of it so I'd like to get a pretty reasonable pair first time.

    Does that background help? Thanks for taking the time.
    Osbert
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    Scratch, a Welsford Walkabout, and Selkie, a Clint Chase Drake 17 rowboat

    http://forthsailoar.osbert.org

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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    I like sorta springy in an oar. Not in a paddle, though. Zero flex at all in a paddle for me.
    I remember a photo of Jon Lugbill doing an offside forward stroke in a C1, and there was a distinct bow in the paddle. Not many would have found the paddle flexible, though.

    The photo was in Canoe magazine in '84 or '85. I think.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Osbert - that background definitely helps.

    So - if you're going to be putting some rowing miles on that boat - I'd make them light (spruce?) I'd build some flex into them. I prefer shafts that have the grain running fore/aft, for strength and durability. Same for blades is ok, but if it's a separate stick... I actually prefer rift sawn for the blades - a bit less prone to splitting. As a starting point what length & dimensions does Clint specify? He's probably in the best position of help you fine tune the scantlings.
    David G
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    As you become a better and more experienced rower, the ideal oar probably changes, even with the same boat in the same waters. As I change from rowing with my legs to rowing with my arms and shoulders, oars feel differently (and I'm neither a very good or very experienced rower.)
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Quote Originally Posted by keyhavenpotterer View Post
    Try and get hold of 'Oars for Pleasure rowing: their design and use' by Steever.
    Lucky for us "Oars for Pleasure Rowing : Their Design and Use" by Andrew Steever is available for check out from the online Internet Archive library.

    https://archive.org/details/oarsforpleasurer00andr

    oars.jpg
    Last edited by sawdustagain; 05-29-2019 at 12:21 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Stiff oars made from heavier woods are useful when beaching on rocky shorelines and for fending off and poling. Lifeboat, Coast Guard, Lifesaving Service and ship's boat oars often had heavy, long looms and narrow blades made of straight-grained ash. Different styles for different uses.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Drake is a fast boat so a bit of spring is ok. Slower boats don't accelerate when the spring unwinds. Guideboat oars are about as flexible as they come, too much so in some views. So the power you put into the flex is wasted. For Drake a collar would be good and some attention paid to blade weight, weight in hand. I don't remember how much we used when we balanced some oars using Andy's design but it worked out to filling a catfood tin with copper nails, maybe a pound or so; goal was no more than a pound and a half in the hand with no more than a grip's width of overlap. Straight cylindrical grips rounded on the end so your thumb could live there. Andy's book is very technical; the oars we designed for a boat similar to Drake ( on which Clint based Drake) are in there. The 91 inchers had 1/2 inch at the neck, 2 at the tip. the 97" had 5/8 at the neck, 1 7/8 at the tip with the oars clamped at grip and lock and 7 1/2 pounds hanging an inch inboard from the tip. St Lawrence Skiff oars that he tested had similar numbers. Clint based his oar design on these. One thing you can do to decrease outboard weight is oval your shaft so the max distance is in line with the pull. I have some Norse oars where the shaft are almost gothic arc shaped.
    Ben Fuller
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Quote Originally Posted by sawdustagain View Post
    Lucky for us "Oars for Pleasure Rowing : Their Design and Use" by Andrew Steever is available for check out from the online Internet Archive library.

    https://archive.org/details/oarsforpleasurer00andr

    oars.jpg
    Thanks for that , I’m signed up and on the waiting list.

    I am planning to build a set of oars with spring for my Tammie and down here Quandong is an amazingly flexible timber.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    What I've been taught is that there basically are two kinds of oars, calm water/long distance rowing oars that are long and slender and storm/short distance rowing oars that are shorter and with broader blades.
    I think that translates pretty good to flex/stiff.

    /Mats

    Elected Swedish Yourneyman of the Year 2019

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    I made some oars fairly recently. I found it was much simpler than I had read about, I just kinda shaped them till I thought they looked about right and then went out and used them, after every use I modified them until I was satisfied with the result. Granted, I've rowed a lot and know how I want my oars to feel so that helps. But these were new oars for a new boat do it was sorta flying blind.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Soft maple is the best. Great response when racing adk guideboat

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars



    When I went around the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, it was interesting looking at the long bows. I was immediately struck by the two colours of wood in the bow itself. Obviously this was pre lamination...they combined pale sapwood with darker heartwood for optimum resilience. I'm not saying oars should be the same, but it was interesting to look at. Looking online it seems the sapwood resists tension on the outer surface and heartwood compression on the inner surface of the bow and so they were better that way. There might be an historical lesson there if your using curved blades and so have a port and starboard oar.

    Given the forces on an oar are all one way in use, and the importance of a light 'outboard end', hollow rectangular box construction would seem the obvious choice to me. I've used a pair so made (with curved ply blades) and they were great.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Pearson View Post


    When I went around the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, it was interesting looking at the long bows. I was immediately struck by the two colours of wood in the bow itself. Obviously this was pre lamination...they combined pale sapwood with darker heartwood for optimum resilience. I'm not saying oars should be the same, but it was interesting to look at. Looking online it seems the sapwood resists tension on the outer surface and heartwood compression on the inner surface of the bow and so they were better that way. There might be an historical lesson there if your using curved blades and so have a port and starboard oar.

    Given the forces on an oar are all one way in use, and the importance of a light 'outboard end', hollow rectangular box construction would seem the obvious choice to me. I've used a pair so made (with curved ply blades) and they were great.
    50 years ago, when I was rowing competitively, oars were made with spruce looms and blades with a 1/4"+ layer if ash laminated on to the compression face. As competition oars have a wide flat face like Norwegian oars to bear against the oarlock this was a substantial compression member.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Cross section of sapwood to heartwood of a Mary Rose longbow...


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Just getting back from pulling my dory down a couple of miles into about 10 knots and a chop. About a boat length per stroke. A two knot trip for a flat calm 3.5 knot boat. Decent spruce oars with gflex on the tips, critical working rocky shore. Tuning mattered less. Finesse not really part of the equation. What was nice was my short sliding seat.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    I realize this old thread was bumped for the Steever book, but I did make the all wood very soft oars I was considering in post 3. They have laminated thin wood blades and shafts laminated from Douglas Fir and Redwood. For an old guy in a big slow boat, the soft flex is easy on the shoulders.


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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    I realize this old thread was bumped for the Steever book, but I did make the all wood very soft oars I was considering in post 3. They have laminated thin wood blades and shafts laminated from Douglas Fir and Redwood. For an old guy in a big slow boat, the soft flex is easy on the shoulders.

    Are those ergo grips?

    Peace,
    Robert

    P.S. Isn’t that what they’re called?

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    Default Re: Springiness of oars

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Are those ergo grips?

    Peace,
    Robert

    P.S. Isn’t that what they’re called?
    Combining my hobbies... With shaped grips you always know the blade angle without having to look.

    These are Specialized. If you want to try this at home, the Ergon Biokork grips are no good for oar grips, they come apart too easily with the twisting.

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