There have been a few delays, but we’ve finally completed our comprehensive manual and plans for building exquisite hollow-shaft sculling oars. The plans are full-sized, laser printed on a ten foot long sheet, and the illustrated manual is very comprehensive.
Hollow shaft wooden sculling oars used to be a standard tool for competitive rowing. It wasn’t until the 1980s when Olympic rowers started switching to lighter synthetic substitutes. While carbon fiber oars are lighter than wood, the difference in weight is not as great as one might assume. A well-made wooden hollow-shaft sculling oar weighs about 4.5 lbs. (weight varies slightly depending on wood density and finish), while a carbon fiber oar of equivalent length is about 3.5 lbs. This difference in weight, while important in high-end competitive racing, is not such a big deal for performance recreational rowing. On the other hand, finely crafted wooden oars offer infinitely greater aesthetic appeal and significant savings. The cost of constructing your own oars will run from about $80-$200, a fraction of the cost of commercially built carbon-fiber oars.
The engineering behind our design is not new. The shaft is constructed to the same specs that have been developed by top engineers, and tried and tested for decades in the competitive racing world. We have, however, tweaked the blade shape and design to simplify construction as much as possible. Most importantly, we have spent months dissecting the construction process, distilling it into a simple step-by-step process that can be accomplished by first time oar builders.
While hollow shaft sculling oars used to be ubiquitous in the racing scene, now there are no manufacturers in North America producing them. There are a couple of specialized manufacturers in the UK producing wooden sculling oars, but with shipping a pair will cost north of $1500. So, if you’d like to own a pair of traditional sculling oars, an economical and enjoyable solution is to build them yourself.
Specialized tools such as spoke shaves, draw knives, and convex planes are not required to build these oars. Instead, the complex shaping can be achieved with just a standard hand plane, a half inch chisel, a utility knife, a hand saw and a flexible sanding block. A table saw is required for ripping long strips that the shaft is comprised from. Our step by step system using a series of templates ensures accurate and straightforward shaping.
For more information, please visit our oars page.
Part of the motivation behind our efforts to design the sailing version of the RowCruiser came from the Race to Alaska (R2AK). As competitors in the race, we wanted something that was fast by oar and sail and could be raced non-stop for more than one week by two people.