I'm getting ready to glue what will make up my blades to the oar shaft and am wondering which way to have the grain run. Basically do I want to run them so they flex as much as possible with the grain or as little as possible perpendicular to it? I've currently got 10 ft long 2x2 ash with a good straight grain. In trying to copy sawyer smoker 9fters but haven't ever seen them being in GA. All the oars I've handled have been composite

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I think you may have to do some testing to come up with your answer.

Find a way to clamp each oar separately at the same distance. Hang the same weight at the same distance on each oar shaft. Measure the deflection (sag).

Rotate the wood 90 degrees and repeat with same weight and distance. Once you have the setup, you can easily measure all four faces. Check the numbers and see which orientation meets your needs. You may want to write deflection on each face so the numbers don't get applied in wrong direction.

If you shape the shaft into an oval, the number strength will be further enhanced in the direction you choose.


The oars will work constructed either way. With ash in a nine ft oar built around a two inch shaft, there is likely little difference in the flex.....they will be stiff.

thanks yall, Ants, what you suggested sounded just like testing arrow spine in my archery days. Problem is I just don't know how much flex I need having never rowed wood oars.  But as Eric suggests there won't be much flex I'll run the grain in the manner that gives them as much flex as possible.  Thanks for the suggestions

Made a set of oars from ash couple of 8 1/2 ft.two years ago. Shafts were originally two inch dia, and have since reduced the shafts below the wrapping to 1 5/8" dia to reduce weight. I've leaned on them pulling hard in fairly fast water. They don't flex.
I wouldn't worry about the grain orientation of the shafts to the blades. Like Ants suggested, clamp up on a rigid bench with the overhang about where the oarlocks would normally be and hang your weight on the blades. Unless you weigh over 120 Kg they won't bend.

thanks Dorf, I do plan on tapering them down to 1 5/8 or so

Get a copy of R D Cullers book on building oars- will answer your questions- he made his living building boats and making oars.  Ash will be stiff but you might thin  the throat down to 1 1/4" x 1 1/2" or so to get some "life" into the oars.  Take them out for a trial run- thin them out with a spokeshave  to meet your needs and then apply finish later- not on the handles.

Good Luck


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