How to Make Your Own Decorative Oars

Written by eric cedric
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Make Your Own Decorative Oars
Use old oars for design and decor purposes. (boy in boat with oars on still river image by Oleg Mitiukhin from

Put old oars to use as decor for home or workshop. Old oars, whether they be New England-style sea dory oars or cedar-made native paddles, have potential for becoming personalised and custom pieces of display art. Follow a basic guideline to customised and enhance old oars. Some ideas include northwest native designs, New England maritime motifs or Greenlandic kayak paddle designs.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Old boating oars
  • Carving tools
  • Stencils
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray-on lacquer
  • Acrylic paints

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Set the oar into a C-clamp on the work bench and stencil the designs onto the wooden blades of the oar. For example, if going with a northwest design, use the oar blade to display a carved totemic pattern or design. Stencil this pattern onto the oar blade--the flat end of the oar that goes into the water when used for boating.

  2. 2

    Chisel out the stencilled design to achieve a relief style etching on the oar blade. Carve around the stencil marks and blow away excess wood chips as you go. Carve in one direction for continuity on the wood.

  3. 3

    Sand the carvings or etchings with fine sandpaper and blow away excess dust form the oar. Spray a clear lacquer onto the length of the oar to prevent mould and mildew on the oar. Use clear lacquer only if you plan to paint the design after the carving and sealing.

  4. 4

    Paint the etched design with small paint brushes and apply the desired colours to the carvings. Northwest designs tend towards rich reds, thick black lines and bright yellows. A New England motif may be best served with muted colours such as greys, dark blues and soft greens. Paint the design accordingly.

  5. 5

    Mount the oar or oars to walls using the oar lock holes on the oar shafts. For example, once carved and painted, criss-cross the two oars in the middle at the oar lock holes and use a brass hook-screw to place on walls.

Tips and warnings

  • Hang coordinated articles to the oars to accent the design. Examples include setting a northwest totem next to the oars, or hanging bird feathers or whale baleen with the oars if going with the northwest design. Look for relevant accents to your particular design choice with the oars.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.