I chose Gull Select oars, 1-3/4" shaft laminated fir from NZ, that come barenaked. Never wrapped an oar before, but since it costs $30-35 per stick, I gave it a go.
I've got a whitewater play cat and a light sail/row skiff that both use the same length oar, so I got two pairs. Whitewater use makes rope wraps a better choice than leathers in my case.
The best rope is braided polypropylene or other low-stretch, non-absorbent type (don't use nylon as it sags when wet). 3/16" is about right. I chose black but you could look for something to coordinate with your paint job. For a 1-3/4" shaft I used 30 ft. For a 2" shaft, use about 40 ft.
You also need rubber donuts or other compatible stops.
Tools: wrapping jig (below), utility knife, butane lighter for rope ends, needle nose pliers.
Materials (besides rope & oar): duct tape, nylon string, quick-set gel epoxy, rubber donuts, grips & tips.
Here's the wrapping jig I built.
2x2 with holes at the ends + 2 oarlocks padded with rags (so your shaft won't get marked up). First, set the oars on your boat and mark the center of the rowlock (the duct tape).
The black strap is to keep the shaft snug (otherwise the weight of the blade will tip it up). The shaft should rotate freely. I measured up (toward the grip) 4-1/2" to start the wrap. Most of the wrap should be below the oarlock. The measured piece of rope is stacked in the rigger's bag (otherwise it gets tangled up).
Here's the start. Note that I chiselled a groove for the rope, so there's no bump.
Turning the oar away from your body, so you can really reef on the rope, do about three wraps and then tighten up: push the wraps left— together— and pull hard, taking up all the stretch.
Here's the semi-final stage.
When you've used about 75% of the rope, tape the wrap down. Then tape a loop of strong, slick cord (white) as above, gulp some beer, remove the center piece of tape, and continue the wrapping process.
Don't pull the last several wraps tight—you'll take up slack later. When you're near the end, pull the tape off and slip the end of the rope through the loop on the small cord.
Pull the end of the rope under the wraps (see why they have to be loose?) with an inch or two (enough to grab) following the small cord out.
Work the slack out of the loose wraps, while keeping the end straight and snug. (A perfectionist might mark where the end lies under the wraps, then undo the thing and chisel a second groove— I didn't).
(cont. part 2)