Oar sleeves are protective covers located on the shaft of oars. They shield new oars from abrasion by oarlocks. They are also perfect for extending the life of oars that have damage on the shaft from overuse. Oar sleeves are extremely easy to make with just a few tools and inexpensive materials.
You need two pieces of 1-1/2 white PVC pipe, each cut 18 inches long. If your oars are damaged, make sure 18 inches is long enough to cover the damaged area. A pencil, tape measure and a drill with a Philips screwdriver bit and 1/16 inch drill bit are the only tools needed for this project. Pick up 12 half inch flat head stainless steel screws, a piece of 120 grit sandpaper and a can of spray paint for plastics that matches your boat and you’ve got all the materials needed to make really nice oar sleeves in less than half an hour.
Find the right position on your oars for the top end of the oar sleeve by positioning the oars in your rowboat with the handgrips touching over the center of the boat, then slide them towards the outside of the boat until the handgrips are in your preferred rowing position. Measure the distance from the handgrip end of the oars to the oarlocks. Adjust the oars until both are the same distance from the oarlock. Measure 9 inches from the oarlock toward the oar handgrip and mark the location with a pencil.
Prepare the PVC pipe by drilling three holes an equal distance apart two inches from the ends of both pipes with the drill fitted with the 1/16 inch drill bit. Rub the cut edge on both ends of each section of PVC pipe with the 120 grit sandpaper until they are smooth. Rub the sandpaper over the entire surface of each section of pipe. Check each of the drilled holes for rough spots and sand each until smooth. Paint if desired and allow them to dry.
Slide an oar sleeve over each oar until the mark on the oar lines up with the top end of the PVC oar sleeves. Insert a screw into each of the drilled holes and tighten gently. If you tighten them too much they will split the pipe or damage the oars. Slide the sleeved oars into the oarlocks and you have a great pair of inexpensive, easy to make oar sleeves to protect and extend the life of your oars.