Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Making Spoon Oars

By John Delapp

John Delapp published a great article on making efficient oars simply, in the Winter/1990 edition of the Ash Breeze, the quarterly journal of the Traditional Small Craft Assoc..
His spoon shaped design has a shaft and loom made of spruce with a paddle made of 4-5mm plywood. I was introduced to an example of this oar last fall, made for Chelcie Liu and what a beautiful, simple, lightweight work of art!

Here is Chelcie with his fine set of spoon oars. Please note the attractive protective leathers.

I was given some spruce off-cuts last week that will be perfect for a set of these oars, which will compliment the fixed seat rowing scull (above) that came out of my shop this winter.

The target weight for this set is 2 1/2 pounds, which John says coaches recommend for racing sculls, even lighter for smaller rowers. The spoon design has proven to be the most efficient and allows the blade of the oar to be made smaller and lighter than a comparable flat blade.

I've never owned a pair of spoon oars, but will very soon - as soon as I get out in the shop and get to work! John claims that it should take 6-8 hours to build this set.

The excellent Ash Breeze quarterly is another great reason to join the Traditional Small Craft Association.

Thanks to my friends Martin and Chelcie for bringing these plans to my attention.

I've spent much more time and materials to make graceful oars.

These stand close comparison with the best of them. At a fraction of the cost.

Post Script: Chelcie has published an article about building these oars and provides PDF files of the plans on the Puget Sound TSCA site.


Mark Livingston said...

Nice oars, helpful info. Too bad link to Puget Sound TSCA doesnt work, that looked helpful too.

doryman said...

Looks like there are a few obsolete links in this article. I fixed the one for the Puget Sound TSCA, though. Fair Winds!

Austin's story project said...

What was the total width of the spoon blade? -Austin

doryman said...

Hello, Austin,
If you're a strong rower, you might want a wide blade, I'd say up to eight inches. For me (I'm an old guy) I made mine six inches wide, which gives me plenty of power.

Dave S said...

A complete pdf for the Delapp oar design (along with another design + a combined design) can be found here:
Delapp Oar:
Murray Oar:
Composite-design Oar: