I restored a Keith Steele 1983 drift boat a couple winter's ago and I recently obtained what appears to be the original oars.  I have 3 Smoker wooden oars that Jimmy Gabettas, the original owner of my boat graciously offered to me when I was showing him pictures of the restored boat. They are in generally good shape but I want to strip the varnish, clean up the rough edges and refinish them.  Any suggestions as to the process would be welcomed (i.e., epoxy, varnish, teak oil finish, how to patch small splits in blade etc).  First off, should I remove and replace the rope wrap?  It looks like they have been varnished over several times and they are hard and pretty smooth and I think tend to slide too easily in the oar locks. Hopefully you can see the texture of the surface in the photos. Your thoughts?

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For the cracks at the tips, grind a little V the length +, then fill with epoxy.  Then varnish.  I strongly recommend no varnish on the handles (minimizes blisters).  I don't have an opinion on the rope wrap, I've never varnished mine.

Makes sense.  Handles are bare wood and I will leave it at that.

We always put linseed oil on the handles. Varnish on handles makes them slick also and hard to hold onto when wet. Rope wrap looks good and if you can't feel any soft spots probably should just leave as is. Cool you have the original oars for the boat Kirk!


if I fill the gaps on the tip with sculp wood epoxy putty or epoxy sawdust paste is it likely to hold up or will it chip out the first time I scrape a shallow riffle?

I refinished some wood oars filling the cracks with T-88  two part epoxy without cutting the v. Worked great. If you save some sawdust from sanding you can mix that in for strength. After sanding, I finished with Total Boat penetrating epoxy, which actually doesn't penetrate but looks like a varnish. In photo, brown spots are from a previous paint job.

I want to recreate the Smoker Oar logo on the blades after I sand them and before I varnish them. I am a horrible painter with an unsteady hand, so painting them myself would be a disaster.  I have a painter who could do them, but I would rather not pay his fees. I called Sawyer (who bought Smoker years ago) and they don't have any stencils or decals.  Anyone know of a company that produces Smoker decals or stencils?

But they do have Sawyer decals I believe. Might be a good compromise? I love smoker solid ash oars. I missed a set of 4 last year at an estate sale by being 15 minutes late to the start of the sale. All 4......50 bucks. 


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