row2k Features
Boathouse Builds
Rowing Hack: 2x4 Oar Racks
April 13, 2023
John FX Flynn, row2k

2x4 Oar Rack at work...

A few weeks back, we shared Richard Misdom's hack for custom built outboard carts--the Motor Roller--and we are headed back to the Dallas Rowing Club this week to check out another of Misdom's other "do-it-with-wood" builds: The 2x4 Oar Rack.

Sure, you can buy fancy metal oar hangers and racks, ranging from ones that attach to the wall all the way up to massive standalone racks--but that can be a lot of money to spend on storing stuff that could be used on boats, races, or even on more oars.

This Rowing Hack makes excellent use of the wall-space behind these bows
This Rowing Hack makes excellent use of the wall-space behind these bows

Of course, the hack here is not the rack itself, but the fact that you can easily build any extra oar storage you might need with a just quick trip to the local hardware store lumber department.

Turns out, your off-the-shelf 2x4s--set short end up--make for effective oar hangers: they are pretty much the perfect width (~2") to hold the collar of an oar, and the right depth (~4") to smoothly hold the sleeve so the oars or sculls don't sway very much.

Misdom makes it work by cutting a pair of "arms" out of 2x4s, and then fashions a supporting brace for each out of another using heavier duty 2x6s, cut at opposing 45 degree angles on each end. He attaches both the arms and braces to a backing board--also a 2x6--that he affixes to the Club's cinder block walls with tapcon concrete screws.

For extra strength and support, Misdom cuts dado joints into the backing board for both the arms and braces, and goes with four-inch deck screws to hold it all together.

Close-up of dado joints for arm and brace
Close-up of dado joints for arm and brace

The longest of the racks at the Dallas Rowing Club extend four feet from the wall, which is plenty of space for multiple sets of sculls. According to Misdom, he has more that 250 pairs of sculls racked this way in the three bay boathouse, so this is a bit of a space-saving hack as well.

"If you space the racks correctly," says Misdom, "you can store oars on both sides of each rack. We also include bungees on some of the racks to resist high winds that sometimes prevail when outer doors are open and can blow some of them down."

The pro woodworking tip here would be to use wood glue along with any screws or nails, and if cutting dadoes lies outside your skill set, then metal L-brackets--or even scrap pieces of your 2x4s or 2x6s--under the wall side on each long arm can provide extra support.

Luckily, while oars are long, they do not weigh much, so this build does a great job of doing the not-so-heavy lifting of getting your oars stored neatly.

Do you have a custom, DIY build that has saved you some money at your boathouse? If so, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us, like Richard did, and we will feature your idea in a future column.

DIY oar racks in every corner, for 250+ sets of sculls
DIY oar racks in every corner, for 250+ sets of sculls

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04/25/2023  8:32:22 PM
Upside down. Blades up, please.

04/27/2023  8:58:37 AM
I'm curious why you say this; it seems like the oarlocks are the most logical/stable/sturdy point from which to hang an oar ( how would you even hang them from the blades?), and that having the handles up keeps them away from dirt and dust on the ground, which makes for cleaner handles. Filthy handles on a long piece can be a real problem, especially when sculling when you can't just wipe a hand on your shirt. It also keeps handles dry since water does not run down onto the handles from the blades. I have stored my oars blades down for years in the tent where I keep my boat - no dusty handles, no endless wiping, no slimy last mile. Any reasoning greatly appreciated! Ed

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