How to Make a Canoe Oar

by Alex Saez
Making your own canoe oar combines boating and art.

Making your own canoe oar combines boating and art.

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While today's canoes are made of aluminum or fiberglass, the Native Americans have used them for ages. Naturally, they made their own boats and oars out of wood. Whether you are a beginner canoeist or a seasoned veteran, you can make your own paddle to bring a personal touch and a sense of authenticity.

Items you will need

  • 2-by-6 inch wood plank
  • Pencil
  • Band saw
  • Knife
  • Hatchet
  • 60-grit sand paper
  • Paint brush
  • Marine-grade polyurethane coating
Step 1

Purchase a 2-inch-think piece of wood for the oar, ideally spruce or pine. Both of these wood products are light and soft for easy carving and paddling. Home improvement or hardware stores sell this product.

Step 2

Determine the length of the oar. The canoe oar's length varies depending on your height. The general rule is that, when held vertically, the top of the handle should be no higher than your chin.

Step 3

Draw a paddle outline on the wood using a pencil.

Step 4

Cut along the outline of the paddle with a band saw.

Step 5

Shape the oar with your knife or hatchet. The handle should be triangular and 2 inches wide. The main shaft should be 1 1/2 inches wide. The paddle is the same width as the wood plank, which is 6 inches. Carve the paddle downward at a 45-degree angle on both sides.

Step 6

Smooth the oar using 60-grit sandpaper.

Step 7

Apply marine-grade polyurethane to the oar using a paint brush and allow it to dry. This is important, because it waterproofs the oar to prevent it from rotting.

About the Author

Alex Saez is a writer who draws much of his information from his professional and academic experience. Saez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Queen's University and an advanced diploma in business administration, with a focus on human resources, from St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images