Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wicked awesome oars

Long-time readers of this blog, from back before it was hosted on blogger, back before it had an RSS feed, back before google/ig existed, back when it was text-only, will remember back to when I was working on my five-foot model of a crew boat, back two summers ago. After a summer of not working on it whatsoever, I am working on it again.

I had made oars, with beautiful hardwood blades seamlessly bonded to their dowel shafts, and I had painted the shafts black, leaving the handles the natural wood color. The blades, though, needed to be painted -- so sad to cover up their beautiful color and natural grain! -- and so that is what I did last week.

First, I took a whole sheet of newspaper, folded it in half, and wrapped the shaft of the oar in the newspaper with only the blade sticking out, and attached it with masking tape. Then I spray-painted the shaft this bright purple color. You can see it here (click for multiple sizes, including a very large one):

I had never used spray paint before. This was a special nontoxic paint made for painting children's toys -- because who else would want purple paint? -- so it smelled funny, because it was trying to be all special and nontoxic. (That was the only available purple paint in the store.) I prefer the smell of normal, toxic paint. Anyway, I had never used spray paint before, so I had to get used to it, the way it pools and bubbles if you spray too much in one area, and the way the tiny dots of paint get everywhere, on your hands and the newspaper and everything, and the way you have to spray, then set the object down and go somewhere else to breathe, then return to the spray paint as you exhale. I did two coats of that and let it dry. Here is what the oars looked like after that (the first picture cleverly includes our sailboat in the background):

Purists will note that Williams' blades are not actually the bright, normal "Williams purple" that I painted the oars. Williams' blades are actually more of a magenta color. I tried to achieve the magenta color by mixing purple and red, but found that while the red was oil-based, the purple spray paint, which gave no indication whatsoever on the container whether it was water-based or oil-based (no "use mineral spirits to clean up" or "use soap and water"), turned out to be water-based, so they did not mix. And I don't like magenta anyway, and I don't understand why Williams' blades were magenta in the first place, since the boat itself has purple trim, so I made them purple, because that makes more sense, anyway.

The next day, I added the stripes. Williams' blades have yellow stripes with white on each side, so that is what I did. I was originally planning to paint the stripes on, carefully placing the masking tape so as to have perfectly straight lines, but then I realized I could use electrical tape to achieve the same effect. So that is what I did. The edges are not perfect, but the flat parts look pretty nice. Here is a picture of them, because I am just that proud of my handiwork:

I also painted parts of the outriggers gray, so that now the boat itself is almost entirely painted. I just have to go back and touch up a few spots where I got a bit of paint where it wasn't supposed to be. Perhaps sometime I will photograph the whole boat.

It struck me when I was making the oars and painting the boat that I did an excellent job planning this whole thing from the beginning. At the very beginning, I got everything I would need: Every size of dowel under about 1/2", three colors of paint, two bags of different kinds of beads, two rolls of electrical tape, and a lot of planning. Each time I show the boat to interested people, they ask about the seats that go in the boat. I have the seats all made, and they are connected to the foot board things that the rowers push their feet off of, but I can't put those in the boat until I have made the people, because I drilled small holes in the seats to attach the people to the seats, and it will be much easier to attach the people if I leave the seats out of the boat. That kind of advanced planning, drilling tiny holes in the seats years in advance of when I will ever use them, if in fact I decide that I want people in my boat.

Observant people will notice that there are nine oars. "Why," you may ask, "are there nine oars? True, there are nine people in the boat, and an 'eight' is truly a 'nine' in some sense, but you need not take this to extremes." Did I miscount? Am I so coxswain-centric that I feel a ninth oar is necessary? I will let that be a mystery.

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