Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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A couple quick thoughts here:
I used to row my 26 foot folkboat. I actually found that it took roughly a 12 foot sweep (long oar)to row her. A shorter sweep hit the topsides before the blade was in the water. I made my sweeps myself. You might get by with 10 footers but if you are building them yourself I would build the oars at 12 feet and use them before deciding who long they should be. They are easy to cut down. I ended up building my sweeps out a 2x4 and a piece of 1/4" plywood. They took less than a day to make using handtools. I used a loop of line as an oarlock (technically a tholeline) and the winches on the coaming as a tholepin.
I essentially ripped the 2 x 4 lengthwise so that it was roughly 3 1/4" inches at the winch and 2 inches at the beginning of the blade. I cut a gentle curve into the aft side of the shaft at the blade so that the end of the curve was facing slightly aft of straight and tapered the end of the shaft on the forward side where the blade was attached. The blade lapped roughly 9 inches onto the shaft and extended 9 inches past the shaft (I am doing this from memory from 30 plus years ago so the dimensions are not all that sacrosanct) The blade was roughly 10 inches by 18 inches long. The blade was bolted and glued into place with a marine waterproof glue that existed at the time but which I haven''t seen in 20 years or so. (I only used only one bolt roughly at the mid point where the blade lapped onto the shaft which pulled the blade down into the curve and clamped it against the glue.)
Using a plane and a draw knife I rounded the aft side of the shaft and the lower forward side of the shaft. I sawed the inboard end of the shaft into a foot long 1 1/2" square handle and then rounded it using a drawknife, handplane and finally a course sandpaper belt.
Reasonably clear fir or spruce 2 x 4''s work fine for something like this but only if you are going to seal the oar with epoxy. You might get by with a piece of AC exterior plywood if you are going to seal the oar with epoxy. When you are rowing the 2 x4 lies on the flat with the narrow face against the winch. I used a piece of leather shoe sole scrap where the 2 x 4 hit the winch to protect both the oar and the winch.