Jim Michalak's Boat Designs

1024 Merrill St, Lebanon, IL 62254


A page of boat designs and essays.

(1 December 23) We will make some oars. The 15 December issue will review taped seams.

ORDER NEWS

THE BOOK IS OUT!

BOATBUILDING FOR BEGINNERS (AND BEYOND)

... is out now, written by me and edited by Garth Battista of Breakaway Books. You might find it at your bookstore. If not check it out at the....

ON LINE CATALOG OF MY PLANS...

...which can now be found at Duckworks Magazine. You order with a shopping cart set up and pay with credit cards or by Paypal.

ALSO...In addition to the Duckworks downloads I also now have access to a large format inkjet printer which is making very nice full sized prints on paper. So I can return to what I started 30 years ago, you order direct from me by snail mail using the address above only with cash or check in US funds with the prices shown on this website, and I mail you full sized 2'x 3' paper prints. The price includes first class mail to US and Canada.

Left:.

Aaron Enstad writes, "Jim, Iíve been a hobby boatbuilder for many years and over the summer I helped my niece build Toto. She launched it on Thanksgiving Day. Thanks for a great design! Aaron Enstad" And thanks to Aaron and niece for the great build job!


Contents:

 

Contact info:

jimsboats.jim@aol.com

Jim Michalak
1024 Merrill St,
Lebanon, IL 62254

Send $1 for info on 20 boats.

 

 

Making Oars

Making Oars

MAKING A SET OF OARS....

How long?? That's a tuff one and I avoid it by saying on each set of my plans I show the oars I recommend for the boat. All knowing Phil Bolger said in his first book, "Generally speaking, a good deal less than twice the spread of the locks will serve, and I'd prefer to have oars a little short of the ideal than much too long." I like to use 7 foot oars on good rec rowboats like Roar2 or a light dory that tend to cruise at about 4 mph. Slower boats can use shorter oars. I use 6-1/2' oars on Piccup which will cruise at 3 or 3-1/2 mph even though it has more than 4' between the locks. Short oars work well on larger slower boats too, for example 7' oars are fine for Birdwatcher and AF4. They probably move at about 2-1/2 mph. The idea that the longer the oars the faster you will go is simply not true.

Anyway, I'm going to show drawings for 7' oars which are about the most useful length for me.

WHAT KIND OF OARS....

The oars I make are really derived from the patterns of the late Pete Culler. They are characterized by having heavy square looms inboard of the locks and long narrow blades in the water. An example is shown in Figure 1.

The square looms are easy to build, help balance the oar, help locate the oar in the locks, and keep the oar from rolling around on the wales.

The long narrow blades go against modern thinking of spoons, but for long rowing, long and narrow is the way to go. The average mortal can only pull so much of a load, in spite of what an Olympian might do. The Culler blades can match the mortal's pull. They might slip a bit when starting a heavy boat from a standstill, but once up to speed, the have full grip on the water. They balance better. They are less fatiguing. They have less windage. By the way, the oars of traditional Irish caurrahs have no blades on their oars. Neither do the paddles of some traditional kayaks.

WHAT YOU NEED...

Oars are made from four materials - wood, glue, leathers and varnish.

For wood, I use 1x6 pine boards. The pattern shown in Figure 1 will just barely make an oar from a 1x6. I try to buy a single board long enough to get out both oars. For example, for a pair of 7 foot oars, I buy a board 14 feet long if I can. That way the oars will be a close match on weight, stiffness, and color. I like to use soft wood like pine, it is easy o work and makes a light oar. It need not be clear wood although clear is easier to work Small solid knots are fine and look good too. I've never worried too much about grain because the sticks get laminated and tend to stay straight. But the straighter the grain the better.

(For glue I prefer plastic resin "Weldwood" glue and doubt if there is anything better for making oars. Pour some in a cup and squirt in cold water until it has the consistency of normal woodworking glue like "Elmer's. I've found it to be quite true that this glue will not set properly until it is at 70 degrees F for twelve hours like it says on the can.) Oops! Written long ago. Now I would use Titebond which needs no mixing and should be easily available.

For leathers I don't use leather. I bind the 8 inches just below the square section of the loom with synthetic mason's twine, about 3/32" diameter. It lasts for years.

For varnish I use ordinary oil based spar varnish.

Now let's talk tools. The tool I use the most in making oars is a bandsaw and I hate to say that because it's not a cheap or small thing that everyone will have. The problem is that you've got to saw a 2-1/4" thick blank. Hand saws will work and the effort should get you in shape for rowing. After all, oars were invented long before the bandsaw. But I see Dave Carnell has built oars using his table saw and Bruce ----- built oars with his sabersaw.

oar

HOW TO BUILD...

first cut the 1x6 boards to the proper length. lay out the centerline with a straight edge. Then draw the pattern for the center piece, the one with the blade., around the centerline. Cut out the center lamination following the line closely with your saw, because the outer laminations of the blank are made from the off fall and there isn't much extra.

You can draw patterns of the outer pieces and cut them out. But it's easier to glue the pieces directly to the center piece and trim them after the glue cures. Trial fit the outer pieces. You may have to trim them for the proper shape where they blend into the blade area of the centerpiece. When you are satisfied, butter them up well with glue, and clamp them in place. You may need to tap in a a light temporary nail to keep the pieces from sliding around on each other because almost all glues are quite slippery until they start to set. Try to get glue squeezed out all around. And be sure the blank is resting straight while curing. Walk away from the blanks until the glue has cured hard.

After cure, trim the outer pieces to match the centerpiece. Use a plane and sander to work these pieces to their final lines, being careful that these faces remain square to the other two unworked faces.

Now cut the two unworked faces of the handle and loom of the oars to their final dimensions. Draw centerlines down the two worked faces and lay out the shape of the handle and loom. Cut to the lines and sand smooth. At this point the cross section of the oar from handle to loom is square.

The oar drawing shows how much of the loom is left square. The rest is to rounded. You start by drawing lines on handle and loom that allow you to make the cross sections octagonal. You can draw them using the gadget shown in Figure 2. Then cut down to the lines with a half round rasp where the lines blend to the square section of the loom. Then use a drawknife or plane to remove the rest of the material down to the lines along the shaft. Now she's eight sided. To round it you're supposed to sixteen side it and then round it out. To tell you the truth, I leave mine eight sided, including the handle and the area which fits in the rowlock.

8sider

Lastly you need to trim mass out of the blade. I plane the blade down so its edges are 1/4" thick. Then I use the front roller of my belt sander to hollow the blade slightly on either side of the center, leaving a ridge in the center.

I think the only critical part of these oars strength wise is the 1-1/4" section where the blade meets the loom.

Give the oars a good overall sanding, but leave the handles rough.

Wrap the rowlock area, from the square section down 8 inches toward the blade, with mason's twine. Wrap it tightly and use knots to secure it.

Give the oars three coats of spar varnish. That includes putting varnish on the twine binding. It will go a long way towards holding the binding in place. Don't varnish the handles.

An easy and effective "button" can be made be added to the bound area, to provide a stop which will locate the oar lengthwise in the lock, by wrapping it tightly with three wraps of 1/4" shock cord, and tying the cord with a square knot. If the tension in the cord is right, it will stay firmly in place while rowing and yet allow repositioning up and down the bound area to change rowing leverage when required.

A ROWING SEAT/DITTY BOX....

Figure 3 shows a rowing seat/ditty box that I've been using for years. You might have to tinker with it a bit to get it to fit your butt. As for the height of the box, it is nice for a bar placed across the rowlocks of your boat to cross you at belly button height. That would include any padding on the seat such as a flotation cushion which you should have on board anyway. For that matter a stack of two or three stiff flotation cushions can make a pretty good rowing seat.

rowseat

Contents


BATTO

FAST ROWBOAT, 18' X 3', 70 POUNDS EMPTY

Someday I may get to put my full catalog on the net. For now I'll put one design in each issue.

BATTO

Might as well finish the rowing essays with Batto. It's sort of a "retro" boat. Every now and then I go over another designer's older design and try to update it to the way I do boats. I always learn a bit.

Here are the words in the current catalog about Batto:

Batto is a close copy of the Pete Culler clipper bateau Otter which appears in John Burke's book PETE CULLER'S BOATS. Batto is only very slightly different in shape and size from the original Otter and is in no way intended to be a parody of it, only a reworking to the type of construction I prefer. Burke points out that the boat is about as close as you can get to a racing shell with traditional hull, and that it was unforgiving and cranky if improperly used and very elegant and fast if properly used. I would prefer it to be thought of an exercise boat meant for one. Supposedly Culler judged the boat to be safe to handle one third of a person by proposed Coast Guard regulations. I found Burke's book to be very good reading.

The big departure I've made from Culler's work is that I've used "instant" plywood construction, something that Culler didn't like at all. He had a long lifetime of experience with traditional methods and tools and materials by the time he built Otter and Burke says he built her in a one week vacation, with lapstrake sides, cross planked bottom, and all the gingerbread. In the photos it is a true work of functional folk art. Batto won't be in the same league as a work of art, but it should actually be a better boat by almost all other criteria. Built taped seam style with no jigs from 3 sheets of 1/4" plywood, Batto will be a 40 hour project for most any man and will be lighter and faster than the original.

Culler used very long special rowlocks to get the proper oar location in the very low and narrow hull. (You won't be able to stand up in it.) That replaced the need for outriggers which, I can attest to, are a pain for a cartop boat. I think the Culler locks are worth a try, if only because they can be easily removed and replaced. For that matter the boat would take a sliding seat very easily. I'm certain Phil Bolger would quickly point out that locks tilted 45 degrees like these aren't worth a hoot. And he'd say that the hull needs more rocker. But I guess that shows how two very experienced designers can have very different experiences. I know for a fact that the narrow Culler oars work very well although Phil never liked them.

Batto plans are $30.

Contents


Prototype News

We have a Picara finished by Ken Giles, past Mayfly16 master, and into its trials. The hull was built by Vincent Lavender in Massachusetts. There have been other Picaras finished in the past but I never got a sailing report for them...

And the Vole in New York is Garth Battista's of www.breakawaybooks.com, printer of my book and Max's old outboard book and many other fine sports books. Beautiful job! Garth is using a small lug rig for sail, not the sharpie sprit sail shown on the plans, so I will continue to carry the design as a prototype boat. But he has used it extensively on his Bahamas trip towed behind his Cormorant. Sort of like having a compact car towed behind an RV.

And a Deansbox seen in Texas:

Another prototype Twister is well along:

A brave soul has started a Robbsboat. He has a builder's blog at http://tomsrobbsboat.blogspot.com. (OOPS! He found a mistake in the side bevels of bulkhead5, says 20 degrees but should be 10 degrees.) This boat has been sailed and is being tested. He has found the sail area a bit much for his area and is putting in serious reef points.

Contents


AN INDEX OF PAST ISSUES

THE WAY BACK ISSUES RETURN!

MANY THANKS TO CANADIAN READER GAETAN JETTE WHO NOT ONLY SAVED THEM FROM THE 1997 BEGINNING BUT ALSO PUT TOGETHER AN EXCELLENT INDEX PAGE TO SORT THEM OUT....

THE WAY BACK ISSUES

15dec22, Taped Seams, Sportdory

1jan23, Rowboat Setup, Normsboat

15jan23, Sail Area Math, Robote

1feb23, Bulkhead Bevels, Toto

15feb23, Trailering Boats, IMB

1mar23, Small Boat Rudders, AF4B

15mar23, Making Sink Weights, Scram Pram

1apr23, Sailrig Spars, RiverRunner

15apr23, Water Ballast, Mayfly16

1may23, AF3 Capsize, Blobster

15may23, Mast Tabernacles, Laguna

1jun23, Underwater Boards, QT Skiff

15jun23, Capsize Lessons, Mixer

1jul23, Rend Lake 2023, Vireo14

15jul23, Rigging Lugsails, Frolic2

1aug23, Horsepower, Oracle

15aug23, Sharpie Sprit Sails, Cormorant

1sep23, Prop Thrust, OliveOyl

15sep23, Leeboard Issues, Philsboat

1oct23, Prismatic Coefficient, Larsboat

15oct23, Figuring Displacement, Jonsboat

1nov23, Lug Jiffy Reef, Mayfly14

15nov23, Sharpie Reef, Piccup Pram

SOME LINKS

Mother of All Boat Links

Cheap Pages

Duckworks Magazine

The Boatbuilding Community

Kilburn's Power Skiff

JB Builds AF4

JB Builds Sportdory

Hullform Download

Puddle Duck Website

Brian builds Roar2

Barry Builds Toto



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