Have just ordered some 8/4" x 6" x 12' vg Sitka spruce to build some oars. Have looked all over the net and can't seem to find any useable drawing or specification with good dimensions. Plan is to laminate the shaft, vg fir for the outer edges of the blades also have some fancy exotic wood which I’m planning to inlay in the shafts and tip the blades with copper sheeting. Anyone out there have some good working drawings or sketches? No one in my area has a set of sawyer or premier oars that I can take the measurements.

Sure would appreciate any help.

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Ray:  R.D. Culler  was a boatbuilder and oarmaker for many years.  I doubt you can find one of his books , as they have been out or print for many years.  Culler  has also been gone for many years.  Using his plans i have built a pait of oars and will be making up another set this winter.  He has a whole chapter on wood selection' gluing' methods etc.  If you can't find the book post your address and I will make a zerox copy of the chapter and mail it to you.  Sitka Spruce is pricy- so you don't want to screw it up

Good Luck

Thanks Laurence.

Have looked for the book and can't find a copy. Appreciate if you could main me the chapter on oars.

Got a very good deal on the vg spruce + fir here http://www.vgfir.ca/?xmas-specials-2011,20.

Not worried about screwing up the oars I'm a cabinet maker by trade. Would you happen to know what type of cordage to use for the wraps? I can get the stops online but would need to know the O/D of the shaft with the binding before ordering the stops.

Thank  you so much for your speedy reply.


I have a freind who has a set of Barkley Sound Sitka Spruce oars. The best feeling oars I have ever touched.  The shafts were thicker then other oars leaving little room for a cord wrap with Cobra locks.  He used nylon seatbelt webbing which ends up thinner and worked well.

Please post some images as your project progresses.  I would love to see your process.

Ray:  I have 20 pages of Cullers book re oars.  Where do you want me to mail them?    I feel like a jerk giving  advice to a professional cabinet maker but the info is helpful.  I have used 3/16" nylon line to wrap oars for  a drift boat but for the peapods and skiffs I build here on the coast of Maine leather is the preferred  covering for an oar.  I picked up some nice "scraps" at a saddle shop in MT over Thanksgiving for $10.  If you use leather- sew it on don"t tack it.  When you read Culler you will see he uses square sections inboard of the oarlock.  This dosn't require an oar stop.  You can also use a turks head knot a stopper- looks very classy above the leathers.  Just finished hand cutting dovetails for a reproduction of an 1800's sea chest - so its time for a little Merlot.

Good Luck 

Spent most of the weekend digging around the net after your first email. No use re-inventing the wheel if I can find the info on the net.

Found this while researching


Exactly what I needed. Now all I need to do is figure out which epoxy to use. Think I'll go with Industrial Formulators G2  http://www.systemthree.com/ None critical mix and based on some test I did a few years ago between West System and the IND. Form. The Ind. Form. Epoxy was just as strong but allot less brittle (more flexible). I’ll keep you posted when the oars are complete.

 Thanks for all your advice.


There are pictures of a guy building oars on here that might help you out, if you scroll back about a year through the pictures you will find them. There were a few old discussions on this a long time ago too, type in "oar" ,in the upper right hand corner to search for old discussions, that might do the trick

ML Webb contributed a nice series of pictures and some details on building a very similar set of oars. Do a search for his posts and you'll see not only his oars but his beautiful boat and intriguing workmanship. Brad Dimock also contributed a series on doing leather oar wraps. There is also a discussion on wrapping oarlocks with cord that was started by Ukalady. Lots of great information.

Once again I am reminded of the quality of the the knowledge that the participants on Wooden Boat People contribute. Pre-Internet days certainly had lots of knowledgeable people, however the length of time it took to pass knowledge between people and regions was much longer. Perhaps that gave knowledge time to ripen and mature. In some ways maybe that was better. However I should do enjoy the access to information and to all the people, their knowledge and getting to know them.

Rick Newman

Michael,  Those are remarkable!  Great job.  I saved all of your pictures for future reference.  Guy


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