Had some time over the weekend and started building my Culler style oars. While the original design calls for hollowing out the blades from the center ridge to the edge of the blades I decided that this might weaken the blades seeing how I’ll be using them on my drift boat and I don’t own a hollowing plane.
Tools – Record spoke shave, old 14” draw knife, Bailey Jack and Smooth plane and low angle Stanley block plane.
A few things that I learned while shaping-
Ray, your oars look wonderful. Sometimes the old tools are the best tools. I have been fortunate to pickup some nice old planes for $5 or $6 dollars. With very little work and in one case a new blade they have been good tools. I don't remember all that you have done to get to this point but it looks like you have selected some nice stock, laminated it and then did some initial and then final shaping with the planes.
How much did the stock cost and what kind is it?
Keep sending pictures!
Hello Rick and thank you for the kind compliment.
Purchased the V/G dead dry mast grade Sitka spruce from Vancouver island. 2-8/4 x8" x 9' and 1-8/4 x 8" x 12'.
Cost about $240.00 Canadian. Have enough material to make a couple more pair. Just a few final details to complete before varnishing and rope wraps; plan on inlaying some bacote just below the handles. Having trouble sourcing the black polyester but think I found a source close to home that specializes in stage rigging. Otherwise it'll be the plain old white solid braid nylon.
When I started building them I started with the planes to shape the blades but it became tedious so out of curiosity got out the old draw knife and in the end did most of the shaping with the draw knife and just trued everything up with the planes. Spent about 10 hours total shaping and a couple of more hours laminating for the pair. Should be completed in another few sessions.
I'll post the final product when i'm all done.
Really great work Ray!
Those look nice. Take some closer detail pictures of those babies. I built a set from solid ash. Cut the trees down 7 years ago, had them sawn into 3" by 10" by 10', then stuck them on the wood racks to dray for 6 5 years. I used a circular saw to cut the rough shape out, a spoke shave to rough them in, I cheated and used a power hand planer to thin out the blades. Finished them off with a #220 Stanley and the spoke shave.
I'm a sucker for yard sale and junk store planes, spkeshaves, draw knives, brace and bits, Disston saws and augers. The old irons in those original planes are better than new ones.
I would work for an hour at a time, it's a hell of a workout to shave 9' oars. The shavings burn like nothing else. I would sharpen the blades and tune the planes several times. To avoid tear out, I would lightly wet down the wood and then shave it on the blades. This worked very well, but remember to dismantle the planes and dry them out after. Learned the trick from an old timey event where they had a "planing contest". The winner could shave an inch wide strip of white pine 12 feet long and continuous. It was almost see-through. They used wet down wood.
I have 4 more blanks of ash left. I intend to make more oars when I get around to it.
Ray: Nice work. I bet R.D. Culler has a big grin on his face. Tie a turks head knot for a stopper and find some leather instead of nylon rope
Brad Dimock did a very informative presentation on installing the leather right here on Wooden Boat People. I'll bet a search on these pages will find it.
I made these 10 ft ash oars last year with the help of WBP. It just so happens that I tore into the 'spare' set yesterday to lighten them up. I really like the leathers and the smoothness in the lock. I had concerns that they might slip but after taking a hammer to the stop I decided to leave it in place and work around them.
A heat gun works pretty good too, to get the wax flowing and smooth.
Ray, yours look great!
I'm going to try the wetting of the wood today.
Nice set of oars. The leather work does look pretty classy.
Those oars look beautiful. Ever since rowing a pair of spruce oars I have wanted a set.
I have a question or 2.
I have never worked with spurce and don't know how to select it or what to look for. Should I get some and let is sit for a year. Is it dimensionally stable? Is there something visual in the grain that I should avoid? Since you did a layup of smaller stock, did you start with quarter sawn?
I don't know if I can get sitka locally.
Sitka spruce is much like western hemlock, only sexier :)
Fairly soft to the touch, slightly less dense than hemlock and other spruces, about the same as Alaskan yellow cedar, or old growth redwood (if you remember that stuff, but sitka is stiffer and stronger, ). Works nicely, and has a lovely 'glow' to it when freshly planed. First thing I would check is for straight grain, parallel to the board. A patch of curly grain ruins that sweet pull of the draw knife :) I have only seen it sold quartersawn. Can produce a rather sharp splinter :) Its pretty stable, if the wood is reasonably dry and acclimated to your situation, I wouldn't worry about storing it long, go for it. I was in luck, my local hardwood supplier (Crosscut) had some.
Looks like Ray found some nice wood.
Very nice oars Ray. I learned the same things re shaping, though like Dave, used a power plane to thin the blades some.
Dave, nice tip on wetting the wood.