I have just come from a very gratifying session in the workshop where I have found the simple secret to making oars. You simply take a piece of wood and cut away everything that doesn’t look like an oar. Normally you will end up with more “not an oar” bits than with “an oar”bits as seen below.
Actually I am well-pleased with my efforts in spite of a number of false starts. At one point I had one oar an inch longer than the other (easier to cut an inch off than to add an inch on. ) I was also less than clever glueing up the blanks and ended up with a deeper than desired kerf from the table saw running into the handle but a tongue depressor embedded into epoxy and then planed off to fit brought it back to what might approach normal (at least for me). The instructions call for a well-measured squaring of the loom followed by making it eight sided through a nifty little device with two pencils and then gradually rounding this off into a perfect circle. Since I started off with blanks that weren’t square to start with and eyeballed the entire process I have looms that are oval rather than round but I am sure they will work fine. I must say I do like the shape of the blades and planing them down was a real pleasure as the curls of wood built up on the floor. The old ship builders had a saying “hew to the line and let the chips fall where they may.” This works for me. A little work sanding and smoothing and then a couple of coats of paint to cover up some of the more evident gaffes. I will have perfectly adequate oars at considerably less cost and considerably more pleasure than if I had gone to a shop and bought them.