I’ve just finished the repairs and preparation on another batch of old oars.

This group of oars are by Collars of Oxford and have a few interesting features showing the changes of design over time. There are three different blade shapes. Two have stroke/bow pitch built in. Two have zero pitch.

There was a lot of old paint to strip, and being red a thorough job needed to be done to prevent any bleed through later on.

The first step was a chemical stripper, followed by a scrape with metal cabinet scrapers. This cleared the bulk of the paint and allowed for a much quicker and easier sanding back.

The small repairs were next to be done. Luckily these oars were in quite good condition. Two tips needed to be glued down, two large cracks needed to be fixed, and there was a delamination of the timber pieces on the back of one blade.

Once the epoxy repairs were cured, the minor filling jobs were done. These are small areas, usually along the edges and tip, that really don’t justify the time to do a timber repair (i.e. scarf in new timber).


The repairs were sanded back to a fair surface and the blades were coated with a thinned epoxy. This helps to seal the timber and seal the old red paint. When dried this was sanded smooth. At the same time the oar shafts were given a light sand in preparation for a coat of varnish. The shafts are not stripped back completely, so the patina of age and use still remains. Two thin coats of spar varnish help bring up a consistent shine along these old and well used oars.

The final step is a primer undercoat. I use a high-build primer that helps fill in some of the smaller imperfections in the blade so that the top coat can look very smooth. In case you are wondering why one oar is slightly green, it is earmarked to be a Cambridge blade and I have discovered that this specially mixed primer works best under the pale blue.


Someone asked how much time has been spent so far to do this work. Ignoring drying and curing times, there is about 10 hours of work so far. Not too bad, but these were in quite good condition.