Brothers Ian and Justin Martin, the owners of Adirondack Guideboat since 2012, build elegant wooden and composite guideboats. They also make cherrywood oars for the guideboats, in the traditional style, which calls for pinned oarlocks that secure the oars and prevent feathering. They recently applied their skills to making spruce oars for boats that use conventional horned locks. These are offered in three lengths: 7′, 7′ 6″, and 7′ 10″. Justin recently shipped a pair of the 7′ 6″ oars for me to try.

Photographs by the author

Begging to be used: The new spruce oars from Adirondack Guideboat are designed for horned oarlocks—instead of pinned guideboat oarlocks—and accommodate rowers who prefer to feather their oars.

Each oar’s loom is made of two pieces of 1-1⁄4″-thick Maine-grown spruce that run the full length of the oar from grip to blade tip. Two laminates on either side of the loom together form a blade that measures 24″ long and 6-3⁄8″ across at the widest part. The glue lines are tight and straight and the shaping smooth, fair, and symmetrical. It took me a while to notice that care was taken to match the laminates—the patterns of the grain in one oar are mirrored in its mate, a pleasing indication of the level of attention to detail. The face of the blade is shaped with the obvious curve along its length and a subtle curve across its width that’s about 1⁄8″ deep.

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