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Thread: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

  1. #1
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    Default Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    There is a stack of 2x6x10' and 18'(!) boards in my shop that I got from a home builder a couple years ago. It's wood, that's all I know. I'm in the PNW so it's likely (?) from a relatively local source. Maybe the illusive Hem-Fir?
    The idea of building 9 1/2' oars is on my mind. CLC has detailed plans I like for Pete Cullerish oars.
    I'd hate to waste the effort of building oars by being cheap. I'm afraid to ask the price of Sitka spruce.
    My question is the suitability of generic lumber for this purpose.
    Thanks
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Put a piece across two trestles. Sit on it and bounce. If it behaves OK it should be good to go.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Exactly as Nick says. Use common sense.
    You can also consider laminating .Perhaps your plans call for more than one and a half inches thick?
    One can combine species...for instance a red cedar core with fir (or yellow cedar) on the outside .
    Learn which is the fir and which is the hem. Avoid the hemlock.
    You will be getting kiln dried ,which is a small consideration, in terms of being able to build "bendy" oars .(I dunno what Culler oars are,solid /clunky I'd guess)
    bruce

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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
    CLC has detailed plans I like for Pete Cullerish oars.
    These?

    Quote Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
    I'd hate to waste the effort of building oars by being cheap. I'm afraid to ask the price of Sitka spruce.
    My question is the suitability of generic lumber for this purpose.
    For as much spruce as you'd use in a pair of oars I doubt the expense would break your bank. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and look around your area, you may be pleasantly surprised. I'm in the upper Midwest, found a lumberyard 2 hour away that had 5/4 sitka in lengths to 20' for about $4/bd.ft. when I was looking for material to build masts & spars for CLC's sailing canoe Waterlust. Enough for two 8' oars would have run maybe $60.

    Otherwise, do as Nick suggests after picking over your stock for boards with the most vertical grain, maybe also after weighing each piece looking for the light ones.

    And that last qualifier bears scrutiny; you'll be using these oars a lot, under all kinds of conditions? If they'll be the first pair you've built you may discover that the experience reveals value in selecting suitable material for the task being contemplated.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Free lumber and your first pair of oars? Go for it. What do you have to lose? If they work, its all good. If they fail you can spend the money on premium stock and make another pair. The second pair will be better than the first.

    Take a hard look at the stock you have. What's the grain look like? Nice and straight or all curvy curly? Are they center heart boards, flat grain, vertical grain? Are they checked and split or good and solid?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Autonomous View Post
    There is a stack of 2x6x10' and 18'(!) boards in my shop that I got from a home builder a couple years ago. It's wood, that's all I know. I'm in the PNW so it's likely (?) from a relatively local source. Maybe the illusive Hem-Fir?
    The idea of building 9 1/2' oars is on my mind. CLC has detailed plans I like for Pete Cullerish oars.
    I'd hate to waste the effort of building oars by being cheap. I'm afraid to ask the price of Sitka spruce.
    My question is the suitability of generic lumber for this purpose.
    Thanks

    As Bruce says, learn which is the Fir. Find clear lengths that are rift sawn with tight grain. You only need a narrow strip for most of the oar as the width of the blades can be glued on. Fir makes a nice springy oar but it's not as durable as Ash for hard usage.

    Here is a Culler oar made of fir, the ones on the right. The other is Ash. This Fir came from an old pickle vat, so it's likely old growth. Don't worry about not having Sitka Spruce, any oar made out of that would have to be coddled, like the oars for racing shells.

    If you have some decent Fir on hand use it. You'll learn a lot and end up with a decent set of oars.

    Watch out for splinters, they are the true test of whether it's Fir on not. No splinters, it's probably Hemlock.



  7. #7
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Is the wood knot free, straight grained? Go for it. I have built many oars from construction grade lumber without any failures.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Wooden Boat #274 has an article about making 7 adapted Culler Oars from framing lumber.

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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Put a piece across two trestles. Sit on it and bounce. If it behaves OK it should be good to go.
    Thanks, your common sense approach and depth of experience are an asset to the forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    You can also consider laminating .Perhaps your plans call for more than one and a half inches thick?
    (I dunno what Culler oars are,solid /clunky I'd guess)
    bruce
    Using 1 1/2" stock will require lamination. Culler oars, from what I have read, row nicer than they look hence their popularity.

    Quote Originally Posted by sp_clark View Post
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    Find clear lengths that are rift sawn with tight grain.
    I have not sorted the stack yet but from the ends it appears a few are rift sawn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldad View Post
    Is the wood knot free, straight grained? Go for it. I have built many oars from construction grade lumber without any failures.
    With 16 boards to choose from there should be something useful.
    No failures, that is good to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    Wooden Boat #274 has an article about making 7 adapted Culler Oars from framing lumber.
    Thanks.
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
    ♦ The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it
    ♦ If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear
    ♦ George Orwell

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    I just made a set of nine foot oars from dough fir. Because of the length I laminated them up. Ripped two strips 3/4 by 1-1/2, glued together with Titebond III to make 1/1/2 square.

    I cut a 12" by 1/4 inch slot in the ends to glue the blades in.

    The handles are 1-1/2 round, 5 inches long. I left a long section of the shaft square because of my particular setup, then tapered them all the way down with a block plane to 3/4 inch round at the tips.

    The blades are 1/4 plywood, two feet long, four inches wide at the tip and three inches wide at the top. The shoulders at the top are left square, so the oars can double as boat hooks. I fiberglassed the blades with poly resin and 6 ounce cloth.

    I've made shorter oars similar to this for a skiff, which i didn't bother laminating up, and they have worked fine for years.

    Such oars ain't fancy, but they work very well and are easy to make.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Did you glass the blades while they're connected to the shaft, or separately attaching them to the shaft afterwards?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Uh, the blades get glued into the slot cut in the shafts and clamped well until dried. Then I glass the bottom 12" of the blade, wrapping the cloth over the tip and up each side. I can post photos of how I made these oars later in the week if you like.

    This kind of oar was invented by Dave Carnell, and included in the plans for his "200 dollar sailboat".

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    No worry, just curious. Your explanation answers the question for me.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    I found 3 boards (out of 20) without too many too many knots and 2 with similar spring-deflection. They are green 2x6 Douglas fir that has been stacked, unstickered, for 2 1/2 years under cover. I guess the way to find if they will warp is to start cutting?
    I don't have a table or band saw so am hoping the only laminating needed is at the upper end of the looms to add thickness/weight.
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
    ♦ The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it
    ♦ If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear
    ♦ George Orwell

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    I made a pair of long oars from spruce staging planks years ago for my 20' one ton sloop. They worked well and I still have at least one of them. I rowed that boat and my 26' Friendship with them. Small knots did no harm.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    I plan to make a pair of 6 foot oars out of some 2x6 lumber picked out of the pile at the lumberyard. I plan to rip them in half and laminate them up.

    I will let you know how they turn out.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    I will let you know how they turn out.
    One afternoon in 2012, I took a pile of Home Depot 2x4's and a band saw, and made a half dozen pairs of oars and a few (feathered) kayak paddles. Some painted, some left raw. Since then, I gave away a couple pairs, lost track of some (pretty sure they weren't stolen!!) , shattered one oar (breaking fresh-water ice out of a Boston Whaler) and had a 10 footer crack when a passenger stepped on it - easily repaired with a bit of epoxy and glass. They have all done yeoman duty as boathooks, quanting poles, pry bars, and occasionally even rowing!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Learn which is the fir and which is the hem. Avoid the hemlock.
    bruce
    I just read this older post and hate to sound pedantic, but 'fir' and 'Douglas fir' are not the same thing. In lumber graded S-P-F (spruce-pine-fir) and H-F (hem-fir), the firs are 'true firs', such as balsam fir and a few others; which are structurally lumped with hemlock. The D-F grade is the stronger Douglas fir (but not a fir; has its own genus) that most of us think of as fir.

    Just sayin'
    Jack

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    The best chance of getting knot-free wood comes from a big tree. You can get construction-grade 2 x 4s from a little tree, but not 2 x 12s. They have to come from a big tree.

    So, buy the larger stock and rip what you need from it. That's what I do for gunwales and similar.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    The best way to get knot-free 2x4s in my experience is to go to Home Depot and paw through the stacks.

    I've literally spent an hour doing this, inspecting all the 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, of all lengths!

    You sure can't do this at a lumber yard, but nobody cares at a big box store. Just re-stack everything nice and neat.

    I've found some amazingly good sticks this way.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Quote Originally Posted by Etdbob View Post
    You sure can't do this at a lumber yard, but nobody cares at a big box store. Just re-stack everything nice and neat.
    I've 'picked' lumber at every yard I'be bought from, going on six decades.

    Most of the time it just required a simple question "May I...." I always asked, the first visit or two.

    The rest sent a worker along with me, and asked that I re-stack what I didn't find meets my needs.

    BB stores don't often have enough to pick from unless you can make do with shorter stuff. And a lot depends on the trees that were harvested to put those boards in front of you. Some are better than others.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Framing Lumber For Long Oars?

    Sometimes it helps if they know you're building a boat, or boat parts. Guys at the local yard helped me find clear spruce 1x2 to build a mast, and the owner of a lumberyard in NH helped me pick clear pine to build a skiff.

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