About The Shop

Oars built in the shop are handcrafted from scratch using traditional methods and various antique hand tools. Oars are constructed utilizing solid ash oar-bodies laminated on the inboard side with unique hardwoods to add balance, strength, and flair. This coupling of an ash oar-body with various “companion” wood types allows for elegant combinations of color and character in each oar while maintaining the feel and durability of a solid wooden oar.

Conventional shaped wood oars for a 16' whitewater dory. Oars are artisan custom-made oars built of mahogany and ash.
A conventional oar. Mahogany and ash.

Oars are crafted in the shop utilizing a range of designs — from the conventional to the antiquated. Oars are designed with focus on the balance, function, and aesthetics of each oar. Artisan wanderings into shell and stone inlays, painting, or woodwork artistry are sometimes practiced to further individualize oars.

10' handcrafted ash oars for a wooden whitewater dory. Oars have bulky inboard square tops to add balance and strength.
Well-balanced square loomed oars. Oak and ash.

To protect from the elements, oars are finished with bright and durable spar varnishes or permeating and easy to refinish oil mixtures. Oars are furnished with nylon rope wraps, or more traditional hand-sewn leather wraps, to protect from the slow wearing of the oarlocks, and are fitted with adjustable or fixed buttons (aka oar-stops).

Handmade wooden oars with traditional hand-sewn leather wraps for a 17' Briggs style Grand Canyon dory.
Leather wrapped and ready to go. Walnut and ash.

In addition to building new custom oars, old wooden oars and paddles are also repaired and/or refurbished in the shop. Refurbishment services include: refinishing, repairs, rewrapping, counterbalancing, and reshaping.

Wood oars made of purpleheart and ash being crafted in the Songbird oar-shop
Oars in the rough. Purpleheart and ash.

Within each wooden oar exists the story of the craftsmen, boatmen, and landscapes that have shaped them. It is the intention that the bespoke oars created within the Songbird Oars shop will have an inherent meaningfulness to them, that they will symbolize the venerable life of an oarsman and help tell the stories of those that row them.