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How To Rope Wrap Oars for Drift Boats and Rafts

How To Rope Wrap Oars for Drift Boats and Rafts

Have you ever wanted to wrap your own oars for your drift boat or raft? Maybe you have brand new oars that came un wrapped, you want to make a change from plastic sleeves or your wraps have seen better days? Well whatever the case your in luck cause wrapping oars is relatively easy but there are a few things to know to make the job go smooth!

First off it is possible for one person to wrap an oar but it will go a lot smoother if you can get a friend to help. Second is glue or no glue? You can wrap oars either way no problem but we definitely recommend using a spray adhesive for the added durability! Next comes the tools and materials needed to rope wrap your oars. We recommend the following.  


-3/16 Nylon Braided Rope (typical wraps are 20" to 24" in total length and typically use 3.5' of rope per inch of wrap) 
-Spray Adhesive (Optional, but we recommend 3M Super 77)
-Masking Tape
-Permanent Marker 
-A razor blade 
-Hammer or rubber mallet
-Piece of lumber with 2 1/8" hole cut into it (Optional but helpful for tightening up finished wraps) 
-NRS Strap or strap of some kind that can be secured into a loop
-18" Rope loop pre made from your 3/16 nylon rope 
-Measuring tape


Once you have your tools and materials together to wrap your oar shafts you will want to make a oar wrapping jig to make applying the adhesive and wrapping the oars go a little easier. We use the following to set up our oar wrapping jig.


- x2 Saw Horses 
-x2 Oar locks (Grab them off your drift boat or raft)
-A broom handle or a piece of pipe or doweling that will fit through your rope spool and span the distance of your saw horses


Take your saw horses and set them about 3' to 5' apart. Drill one hole at the end of each saw horse so your oar locks can slide down through them. Then take your rope spool and slide your broom handle through it and place it across the under supports of the saw horses on the opposite side of the oar locks. 
You can also drill a couple of holes in a table or use some lumber you have kicking around and suspended it. If you want too you can even place your oar shaft across the oar locks of your drift boat or raft and wrap them right in your boat (I recommend laying down some plastic or some type of cover if your using adhesive in your boat)

Now where all ready to start wrapping! 

 Step 1 (For those of you re wrapping oars) - Start by cutting away all the existing rope using a razor blade. Once the existing rope has been removed from the shaft use 80 grit sand paper to sand down the glue still stuck to the shaft. You don't have to get too crazy removing the adhesive but you will want to get it all smoothed down so your new wraps are uniform and even. 

Step 1A (Lay Out) - If your are re wrapping oars and your happy with their position then you'll know exactly where to put the new wraps. If your starting from scratch you will want to hop in your drift boat or raft and take some measurements. Start by placing both oars in the oar locks. Now bring your oar handles up to your chest and leave about a 1" gap between both thumbs on the end of your oars this is the position your oars will be in if you had just completed a oar stroke. In this position you will see where your oar typically rides in the locks. We generally recommend that your wrap should be 10" above and 10" below this point for a total of a 20" wrap. However you need to take into account your needs for your boat and rowing style. Its not a big deal to make rope wraps shorter or longer but the general rule of thumb is that 2/3 of the oar should be outboard of the oarlock and 1/3 in board. Once you have decided your wrap placement mark it off with your permanent marker then wrap your masking tape around the shaft just outside the mark.

Step 2 (Starting your Wrap) - If you are using adhesive start off by spraying about 2/3rds of the wrap area in between your masking tape. Make sure you take the time to apply your adhesive all the way up to the masking tape so none of the shaft is left bear. Once your adhesive has been applied grab your rope and lay out 2 to 3 inches horizontally on top of the shaft. Then begin to turn the oar, as the oar turns wrap your rope tightly around the horizontal rope tag as you make your way down the shaft. Keep good tension on your wrap the entire time and maintain a slight angle towards the applied wraps to keep the rope tight. Once about halfway down the wrap section stop and re apply adhesive to the rest of the shaft all the way down to the second masking tape marker. Then continue to wrap your nylon until you get about 2 to 3 inches from the second piece of masking tape. 

Step 3 (Finishing your Wrap) - Once your 2 to 3 inches from your second piece of masking tape grab your pre made rope loop and lay it over your wrap with the knot laying on the wrap side and the loop at the top of your masking tape. Once laid out tape over both ends to hold your loop in place. Once your loop is in position and secured continue with your wrap over top of the loop and wrap all the way down to the edge of your masking tape. Once your wrap is complete cut your rope off the spool and leave a tag 2 to 3 inches in length. Take your tag end and put it through the loop. Remove your oar shaft from the oar locks and stand it up vertically with the open end of the loop facing downward while maintaining tension on your tag end so your wrap doesn't come undone. Now that your oar is upright you can place your foot in the rope loop. If the loop is too high for you to reach add a NRS strap to extend the loop length. Once your foot is securely in the loop hold onto your shaft and stand up in the loop using your body weight to pull the tag end back through your wrap to finish it.  

Step 4 (Final touch ups!) - Now that your wrap is complete you can take your razor blade and cut your tag end off tight to you wrap. Once complete stand your oar up vertically and use your hammer to tap the wrap on both ends to tighten everything up. If you made a wood jig for this step you can slide it over the oar shaft and tap all around the wrap evenly on both ends. Once complete remove your masking tape and head for the river cause your all ready to rock with your brand new rope wrapped oars!