Last night I finished the 10-foot pair of oars I've been working on for the past five weeks or so. Gluing up the blanks was a bit of a pain, so I dilly dallied around, putting off the parts I didn't like. After the glue up, the project went quickly.
I enjoy working with draw knives and spokeshaves and soon I was ankle deep in shavings. My Stanley No. 40 scrub plane and my Stanley No. 3 small smooth plane came in handy as well. Both these planes are more than 100 years old and work every bit as well now as they did when they were made. I suspect the 10-inch draw knife and the two spokeshaves are at least close to the same age, but Stanley planes are much easier to date because of the changes in the Stanley logo and the innovations the company made to their planes.
I used Douglas fir because I couldn't find spruce of the right size. As I was finishing up this pair a friend suggested that Port Orford cedar would be another good wood for oars, and I have no doubt he's right, but that's another difficult wood to find. The oars turned out heavier than I wanted, but they seem to be well balanced.
I used a pair of Norwegian oars that are more than 50 years old as my guide. These are the most beautiful set of oars I've ever seen. I just wish they were long enough, but, alas, they are only eight feet long.
I will see how well they work tomorrow on a 10-mile row from Elk City to Toledo, Ore., on the Yaquina River. My friend, Scott, who loaned me his 9-foot oars, is coming with me. This is a Western Oregon Messabouts/Traditional Small Craft Association event. The weather is not shaping up all that great - looks like we will have wind and rain - but the tide will be in our favor. A spring tide should give us about a two-and-a-half knot push. Afterwards we are eating BBQ at Pigfeathers, a great little restaurant across from the Toledo City Docks.