Making oars: the race was on with no water in sight by Liam Hymus
Making oars is one of the tasks that every apprentice has to do at some point and the time had come for me to start my second set. Jake had already taken five weeks on his set and I reckon he was over half way. He was about to take a week off so Charlie bet him that I would be able to have two rounded looms before he got back. He accepted and the race was on.
So that Monday I started machining the timber for the two oars to try and get them rounded before he got back. After the first day I was feeling confident. I had most of the timber machined up and I'd smashed out the two loom cores gluing the blades on. By mid-week I hadn’t slowed down a bit. I had hollowed out and glued on the outer looms and the other two oars had their loom cores shaped and blades glued ono oars that were required for Charlie to win the bet. I believe the bet was that who ever lost had to buy the other person's lunch that day.
As it hadn’t taken me that long for me to round those two oars, there was a lot of talk about me finishing completely before Jake. All of a sudden I found myself in yet another oar race. This time we decided that whoever had their oars in a state ready for varnishing would be the winner.
Another week went by and I was still behind so then I really started to pick up the pace. I wouldn't let anyone upstairs. It had become my domain. I had a good set up and I knew exactly where everything was. I had finally finished rounding the second pair of oars and then I had to shape the blades. That's a another job which seems to take forever.
Onto the third week and I'm not feeling anywhere near as confident as I was when I first started. I’m still behind and Jake seems to have found his fifth gear, which he doesn’t use that often. So I decide to tell Jake that I’m miles behind and I haven't got a chance to catch him up. I'm hoping that he'll take it a bit easier and slow down. To be honest I think might have worked for a day or two but then he realised that I was a lot closer to finishing than what I'd said.
Around comes Friday of the third week . Ash tips glued on the ends of the blades, looms rounded, handles... Oh yes, the handles... I'd made a massive balls-up on the handles by not leaving enough excess. I knew exactly what I'd done but I decided to carry on regardless, hoping that no one would notice just so that I might still get declared the winner.
But no. John walked in and the first thing he noticed was how tidy the room was. The second thing was, of course, the handles. And, as it turned out, I had made two oars the same length. This would prove to be a problem as each oar is made a different length depending on what rowing position it is made for.
I was really annoyed with myself - so annoyed in fact that I’m now making another set. Soon I will have two complete sets – twice as many oars as Jake.
So I definitely win when it comes to quantity.