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Thread: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

  1. #1
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    Default Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    We have some nice oars that have gradually shed the varnish that they had when new.
    My husband has removed all the varnish flakes, and then sanded them smooth.
    They do still have some spots of varnish.
    I was going to use Cetol, but what I have read says it is for above water. Well, so is varnish for that matter.
    Do you think Cetol would work? We like the look of the wood, but we could also just paint them.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    You'll want to get all the old varnish off before applying Cetol. You might get away with more varnish over the old, but it will be easier to just finish stripping the old stuff off now.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    I just refinished a set of oars. I tried to varnish them with a few spots of old varnish still on the oars. It looked terrible. I ended up re-sanding to bare wood and then varnishing, with much better results. So, here's a vote for varnish--but only after getting all the old varnish off.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    Paint the blades in the boats colours by all means, but strip and varnish the looms.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    As my varnished blades get beaten up I usually sand the dings to bare wood, lightly sand the rest, and re-apply varnish. That looks fine on mine, unlike Tom's. I am only using System 3 varnish for initial and touchup coats, so maybe the varnish type matters.

    -Rick

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    To be honest, the real problem with my oars was that I let the refinishing go too long, and the wood weathered to a gray in some areas, but was less weathered where the varnish held on. So my first attempt ended up all blotchy with dark bare spots mixed with old-varnish orange. After I sanded it all to bare wood, the blotching was far less noticeable. No one would ever mistake them for brand-new oars, but they look good enough for me.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    I have spruce oars from A. Dauphine and Sons, Lunenburg, NS, from 1981. I varnished them from new. The looms are leathered, the grips are bare. They live in my dinghy from April until December on the Buzzards Bay side of Cape Cod. Every spring they get washed, sanded with 220 and varnished 2 coats of Epifanes. In Boy Scouts I learned that it is a Big No-No to run your blades into the bottom rocks or sand. An even greater offense to push off the bottom with the blades; the proper method being to end for end and push off with the grip. Two coats of high quality varnish with lots of UV guard seems to do the trick. Cheers/ JC

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    Best set of oars I ever owned was a set of 10-foot spoon-blade beauties in aluminum. Maintenance was never an issue.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    I paint my inexpensive spruce oars, both for ease and to lessen their appeal to passers by. They live in my dinghy at a dock.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    Thanks for all the input. We are going to use Minwax Helman's Spar Urethane. My husband's choice: "because we already have a can of it".

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    i wuz gonna say, there are more choices...cpes, oil and poly varnish .
    we use poly varnish on my brides oars, they're pretty and the varnish is harder than trad varnish, but it breaks down in the sun sooner .
    the first coat is slow to dry, but 10 coats can be applied on a second, hot day. use alot of it

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesCaird View Post
    I have spruce oars from A. Dauphine and Sons, Lunenburg, NS, from 1981. I varnished them from new. The looms are leathered, the grips are bare. They live in my dinghy from April until December on the Buzzards Bay side of Cape Cod. Every spring they get washed, sanded with 220 and varnished 2 coats of Epifanes. In Boy Scouts I learned that it is a Big No-No to run your blades into the bottom rocks or sand. An even greater offense to push off the bottom with the blades; the proper method being to end for end and push off with the grip. Two coats of high quality varnish with lots of UV guard seems to do the trick. Cheers/ JC
    This was how I was taught to push off from the bottom. One day it was pointed out that the grip might get sand and grit forced into it which would raise blisters. I have used the blade since, being careful, and properly maintaining them yearly.
    I do not finish my grips, I oil them with linseed oil as needed.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Woodward View Post
    This was how I was taught to push off from the bottom. One day it was pointed out that the grip might get sand and grit forced into it which would raise blisters. I have used the blade since, being careful, and properly maintaining them yearly.
    I do not finish my grips, I oil them with linseed oil as needed.
    Nice, Chris. You are in Guideboat Heaven. I have never found a problem of getting sand in the grips. In winter I have tried every combination of gloves and mittens to keep the hands warm but still keep a grip on the grips, hence, no varnish there. Cheers/ JC

    I might add that my rowing was not just for pleasure. I lived on an island year round (no roads, no cars) and commuted almost daily to work with a 1/2 mile row to start and return. I did that for 10 years so assuming 300 trips per year at 1 mile/day that's 300 x 10: about 3000 miles. Only broke an oar once trying to get home in a gale. Loved it, still do.
    Last edited by JamesCaird; 05-19-2022 at 10:29 AM. Reason: Further thoughts

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    Pine tar and raw linseed works well. I use it on the whole oar

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Oars - varnish, cetol, or paint?

    JamesC- was that on Clark's?

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