Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oar Making - Part 2, Shaping

Let’s see if I can shape an oar with my primitive wood working tools.  Reading the online directions for making oars is a little intimidating, since they specify using woodworking tools that I don’t own or have a desire to own.

After the oars are laminated, all of the subsequent steps involve one concept: removing everything that isn’t an oar.  First, I trim off excess material with a wood saw, then clean it up with a belt sander.  When first shaping the oar, I'm keeping all the cross-sections square for now.  I'll round it later.

Roughly trimming off excess from the blade.

The rough trimming is cleaned up with a belt sander

The handle is then cutout.  The excess material is hacked off with a saw.  The nice rounded transition area is done with the front roller of the belt sander.

The shape of the handle is drawn.
Excess material around the handle is carefully removed.
The handle with a square cross-section.

More material is removed from the handle to make it round.  You may notice that the handle is slightly tapered toward the loom (or shaft).  This is done on purpose and makes the handle more comfortable.

Next, a homemade spar gauge is used to mark out an octagonal shape. The cross-sections of the loom are made approximately octagonal using a plane.

Spar gauge.

The octagonal cross-sections are then sanded round with a belt sander and hand sanding.  Excess material is also taken out of the blade using the belt sander.

Blade of oar part way though shaping.
  Here's a good before and after shot after the first oar is shaped.
Oar after lamination (left) compared to finished oar (right)

Finished handle.
Finished oar
 The oars are balanced the same and weigh approximately the same so they will feel the same while rowing.  They won't win any beauty contests, but they will work!

Next up, I'm going to finish the coamings.  I'm laminating multiple layers of 3/4" lumber to form a boxed coaming ... but more about that next time.  Here are some pics of the first layer being glued on.

First layer of lamination for coaming.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Glued mast step and rub rail

I glued the mast step to the top of the cabin.  There are also screws securing it from underneath.  It looks very strong.

The mast step glued to the cabin roof.  Still needs some sanding.

 I also installed the rub rail and a trim piece along the edge of the cabin roof.  They are both made of white oak.  Not much explanation necessary here.  I just cut out the pieces roughly, glued and screwed them to the boat, then sanded smooth with a belt sander.

Rub rail and cabin side trim just after gluing.
Rub rail just after gluing.
Cabin side trim just after gluing.
Cabin side trim sanded flush.

Oar Making - Part 1, Lamination

I'm making some oars for axillary propulsion. Hopefully these will be adequate and I won't need an outboard motor.  I'm going to install some oarlocks on the tops of the coamings ... details on that in a later blog post.

I've spent a lot of time pondering a number of issues regarding the oars:
 - if oars for this boat even possible, since its so wide (6'6" beam) and has coamings,
 - the length of the oars necessary,
 -where the rower would sit ... there are no thwarts to sit on like on a row boat,
 - whether to buy or make the oars
 - and, most vexing, where to store the oars out of the way while sailing.

I've never made oars before, don't have the right tools probably and have no idea what I'm doing, but I decided to make some 8 foot long oars out of some rather cheap pine 1x8 boards from the local home improvement store.  Total cost is about $40 for two oars and a weekend of work.  8 ft oars will not store anywhere on the boat.  So while sailing, I'm just going to leave them in the oarlocks, rotate them so they are lengthwise with the boat and lash them down to the top of the coamings.  They shouldn't be in the way.  I was considering some 7 ft oars that could fit in the cabin, but that's too short and retrieving them from the cabin would be annoying.

There are some equations for calculating the length of the oar based on the beam of the boat, but they suggested that I make 9.5 foot oars, which are too long to lash to the coamings while sailing.  8 ft is the longest practical length for this sailboat I think.  (I can also just barely fit 8 ft oars in my car, so that'll be convenient).

After doing some research online, I learned that store bought oars are not balanced correctly and too expensive.  I found some oar plans online by a guy called Culler.  His plans show oars with long narrow blades and are balanced for easy rowing.  Here are some links to the free plans I'm using:

The oars are laminated with 3 layers of 3/4" pieces of pine (one of the recommended varieties, others include spruce and doug fir).  I just cut the pattern from a 1x8.

An oar in pieces before lamination.
 Then I roughed up the surfaces to be glued with 50 grit sand paper, wet the surfaces with unthickened epoxy, then glued (with thickened epoxy) the 3 layers together.  I clamped the oar to the edge of the workbench, makings sure that the oar is straight while the glue cures.  The cheap wood I'm using was a little warped, but the oar should come out straight. I'm of course being careful to not glue the oar to the table.
An oar being laminated together.
 Next, I'm going to taper and shape the oars, removing any material that isn't an oar.  Shouldn't take too long.  That will be shown in "Oar Making - Part 2".