Oarmaking is really something of a woodcarving exercise, and thus falls closer to the category of artwork rather than carpentry. But we all need oars for our small boats, and at CLC we have resolved to make it possible for the average woodworker to turn out a beautiful pair of oars from scratch.
Plans for oars may be found in various boatbuilding books and magazine articles. We've reviewed them all; intentionally or not, they are really only suited for experts. At least, it takes an expert who can visualize how to transfer architectural drawings to a raw blank of wood. This can be a deterrent, or simply insurmountable, for an otherwise worthy woodworker.
What is needed is a lot of detail, comprehensive step-by-step instructions, and full-sized patterns to make it easy to transfer the subtle shapes to the lumber. John Harris and the CLC team spent six months designing, prototyping, and documenting the assembly and shaping of elegant traditional oars. These oars are ideal for any fixed-seat hull from a 7-foot dinghy to a performance pulling boat, and everything in between. Watch a video about CLC's build-your-own-oar designs.
For builders with a little more experience, all you need is the spiral-bound shop manual. The manual contains highly detailed drawings for oars in sizes from 6'0" to 9'6", and step-by-step construction photos of unprecedented detail. Armed with the manual and a couple of planks of spruce or the like, you will soon have a very efficient and attractive pair of oars.
For faster and more accurate construction---no matter what your skill level---we offer computer-cut plywood patterns and templates in eight sizes from 6'0" to 9'6". These pattern kits include full-sized templates for the elevation and plan view, and a completely unique jig to guide the subtle shaping of the blades. The kits also include a special gauge for eight- and sixteen-siding the blanks as you plane the shafts round.
Construction starts with the selection of suitable timber, which will probably be laminated in two or three layers to reach the necessary thickness. Builders lay out the oar's shape, or trace the CLC pattern, and use a bandsaw to rough-cut the blank to shape.
Shaping continues with a block plane and a small draw knife. You are guided at each step by either the detailed drawings or by the CNC-cut templates.
The manual ends with instructions for varnishing and adding leather oar collars.
These oars aren't spoon-blades, which are very difficult to make indeed, but they have so much refinement in shape that the spoon-blade feature isn't missed, and these are perfect for traditional smallcraft of all types. Tweaks include shudder-free blades, just the right amount of "spring" in the shafts, and counterweights inboard of the oarlocks. The handles have improved shaping---they are much more natural in the hand, as they are thinner. (Mass-produced oars are spun on lathes and require fat handles so that the lathe has something to grab hold of. Fat handles tire the hands on long rows.)
We think these oar plans and patterns will create not only superior oars for your classic small boat, but a shop project that's as satisfying as any woodworking project can be.
Having trouble finding timber for your oars? We have that, too.