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by Christopher Cunningham - Seattle, Washington - USA

If you want the sections to be equal in length and both fit in the smallest possible space, don’t cut your oars in half - you’ll wind up with one section 3-1/2″longer than the other. To make the sections of equal length, find the midpoint of the oars, and make the cut 1-3/4″to the handle side of that mark. Then put the longer male side of the ferrule on the handle section and the female side on the blade section. (That puts the mating surfaces of the ferrule farther away from the oarlock where they’re subject to less strain.)

The 14″- long ferrules will add 7″to the overall length of the sectioned oar. The additional length made my 10′oars a better fit for the boats I’d be using them for, but if you want your oars to remain the same length, cut the oars as noted above and then trim 3 1/2″from each end.

If your oars have a diameter less than 45 mm, you’ll have to add some thickness. The looms of my oars have a diameter a bit larger than the 49mm outside diameter of the ferrule and needed to be trimmed to fit inside diameter of 45 mm, or 1 25/32″. I needed to reduce the diameter of the looms to take the ferrules. To do that I made a cradle to the hold the oar sections on my tablesaw: With the blade of my tablesaw at 45° I cut a groove along the face of a 2 x 4. I then set the fence of my tablesaw 3 1/2″from the far edge of the blade (the length that gets inserted into the ferrule halves). With the blade lowered, I used two 6" C-clamps to clamp the 2x4 firmly in position across the table and, with the saw running, cranked the blade up through the bottom of the 2x4 until it cut into the groove. (Note: If the 2x4 isn't rock solid, it could bind the blade with dangerous consequences. This technique works best with a sharp carbide-toothed blade and taking just a little wood at a time.)

Repeatedly sliding the loom across the tablesaw blade trimmed it down to size. I got less tearout at the shoulder by making the first cut with the end butted up against the fence and making a full rotation of the loom.

With an oar section resting in the groove, I raised the blade in small increments, cutting just the end of the loom until I got a tight fit in the ferrule. With the blade set to cut just enough wood away, I butted the loom against the fence, rotated the loom to cut the shoulder, then slid the loom back and forth across the blade rotating a few degrees at a time.

Testing the fit in the ferrules and light touch with a fine-toothed rasp finished the trimming.

You should do a dry fit before gluing the ferrules in place. If the button for the ferrule’s latch doesn’t pop up through the hole, you might need to trim a bit off the loom that fits the female half of the ferrule. Don’t take a rattail file to the button’s hole to enlarge it; you don’t want to give that a loose fit.

When you’re ready to assemble the pieces, paint epoxy on the ferrules and the sawn ends and newly trimmed surfaces the oars. Be stingy with the epoxy when coating the female side of the ferrule: A thin film on the inside surface of the ferrule is all that’s required; any excess will just get pushed ahead of the end of the loom and need to be completely removed. Clean up any epoxy that will cause problems joining the oar sections later. Set the oar sections with the ferrules up while the epoxy is curing to avoid any drips fouling the joint. After the epoxy cures, you’ll be ready to row. An easy way to assemble the sectional oar it to rest each half on the gunwale - to take the weight -and slide the ferrule ends together in the middle of the boat.

I’ll be able to stow the oars tucked along the sheerstrake or against the uprights supporting the side benches. Note that the oar sections are of equal length, but the connections with the ferrules (and the hidden cut ends of the loom) are staggered.

These instructions were first published in the April 2016 issue of Small Boats Monthly, a digital magazine from the publishers of WoodenBoat.

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