Are you a Kayak enthusiast? We are growing and we need help! Please reach out [email protected]

Rowing to Success: The Importance of Boat Oar Maintenance



Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 1/28/2023

Table Of Contents


Boat oars are an essential component of any boating or rowing experience. They are responsible for propelling the boat through the water and are a crucial part of the boating experience. However, just like any other piece of equipment, boat oars require proper care and maintenance to ensure they remain in top working condition. In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to take to take care of your boat oars and ensure they last for many years to come.

First and foremost, it is important to keep your boat oars clean and free of debris. This means regularly wiping them down with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated. It is also a good idea to rinse the oars off with fresh water after each use to remove any salt or other contaminants that may have accumulated during your boating trip.

In addition to keeping the oars clean, it is important to regularly inspect them for any signs of wear or damage. This includes checking for cracks, chips, or other damage to the oar blades as well as checking the oar shafts for any signs of bending or warping. If you do notice any damage, it is important to address it as soon as possible to prevent further damage and to ensure the oars continue to function properly.

Another important aspect of taking care of your boat oars is ensuring they are properly lubricated. This includes lubricating the oar locks and any other moving parts on the oars to prevent rust and wear. It is also a good idea to apply a protective coating to the oar blades to protect them from the elements and to prevent them from drying out and cracking.

It is also important to store your boat oars properly when not in use. This means keeping them in a dry, cool place to prevent warping or damage from moisture. It is also a good idea to keep them off the ground and away from any heavy objects that could potentially damage them. Additionally, it is important to regularly check the oars for any signs of damage or wear while they are in storage, as this is often when damage can occur.

In addition to these basic care and maintenance steps, there are a few other things you can do to ensure your boat oars remain in top working condition. For example, it is a good idea to invest in high-quality oars that are designed for the type of boating you will be doing. This will ensure they are up to the task and will last longer. You can also consider buying oar covers or sleeves to protect the oars from damage when they are not in use.

Another important aspect of taking care of your boat oars is ensuring they are the right size and weight for your boat. This is important because the wrong size or weight of oars can make rowing more difficult and can cause damage to the oars or the boat. A good way to ensure you have the right size and weight of oars is to consult with a professional or to check the manufacturer's recommendations.

Finally, it is important to remember that taking care of your boat oars is an ongoing process. This means that you should not only take care of them when you first purchase them, but also continue to do so throughout their lifespan. This includes regular cleaning, inspection, lubrication, and storage, as well as addressing any damage or wear as soon as it is noticed.


Here's How:



1. Prepare your outside sanding workspace. It is advised that latex gloves and a respirator be used throughout the process: wrap handles and rope wraps in blue painter's tape to protect them.

2. For each oar, get two or three sheets of 60 and 120-grit sandpaper. You can use an orbital sander with a configurable speed for the blades. As it will result in flat patches, do not attempt to use this for the shaft. Use sandpaper for sanding the post manually. All you do is remove the varnish or protective layer from the wood. Sand the oar as much as possible in the direction of the wood's grain until it looks dull.


3. Use compressed air or canned air to blow away sawdust, then clean with denatured alcohol.

4. Cover with painter's tape any parts of the wooden oar, such as the handles or rope wraps, that you don't want to be stained.

5. The varnish will reveal several dust particles once it has dried if the room is dusty or unclean.



6. To access as much wood as possible between applications, spread out plastic drop cloths and support the oars at the VERY ends.

7. Using an oil-based stain here is optional and depends on your car's appearance. Make use of a paintbrush designed for oil-based coatings. Wait two hours for the stained oars to dry before applying more paint for a deeper finish. If you prefer the natural appearance, proceed directly to varnishing.


8. Before applying varnish, clean the brush with mineral spirits or paint thinner. To spread the varnish around and make cleaning the brush simpler after you're done, it also helps to lightly dunk the meeting in the paint thinner before you begin varnishing.



9. Use a brush to apply varnish, moving in a single direction. Remove any brush hairs, and check the bottom of the oars for any drips. Here, less is more. Don't strive for perfection. Varnish self-levels, thus overbrushing, will make it appear unappealing. Before adding a second layer, wait 24 hours. Before doing so, lightly sand the area using 220 grit sandpaper. Clean once more with denatured alcohol after blowing off. Repeat until you are happy with the appearance of the oar.


10. Wait 24 hours before catching any fish!


In conclusion, boat oars are an essential component of any boating or rowing experience. However, just like any other piece of equipment, they require proper care and maintenance to ensure they remain in top working condition. By following the steps outlined in this article, including keeping them clean, inspecting them for damage, lubricating them, storing them properly, investing in high-quality oars, using oar covers or sleeves, ensuring they are the right size and weight for your boat and maintaining them continuously, you can ensure that your boat oars will last for many years to come. Taking care of your boat oars may require a bit of time and effort, but it is well worth it to ensure you have the best boating experience possible. Remember to also check the manufacturer's recommendations, and consult with a professional if you have any doubts. With the right care and maintenance, your boat oars will be ready to take you on your next boating adventure.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are boat oars used for?
How do I properly hold and row with boat oars?
What is the difference between a single-bladed and double-bladed oar?
How long should my boat oars be?
Can I use any type of wood for my boat oars?
How do I properly store my boat oars?