Wooden Boat

Association of Queensland

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Making the “Bill Roland-World Famous Spar and Oar Sander”


Many years ago, Bill Roland demonstrated at a “show-and-tell” a spar-sander he made from a trailer wobble-roller. Whilst the detail faded, the concept remained in the memory and, faced with some oars that needed serious sanding, I set about to make one. So here is Bill’s original idea modified and updated.


Materials needed. 1 wobble-roller from boat shop ($12) All the rest from Bunnings or similar  ½ “x 7” bolt (with long thread) -1 of; 50 x 50 M12 square washers – 2 of; ½” nuts to suit bolt -2 of. 100mm of ½” internal diam. tube: 75 x 533 x 80 grit sanding belts – several.

To make: Cut the head off the bolt and place on the threaded end of the bolt in the following order: 1 x nut; 1 square washer; wobble-roller; the other square washer and the other nut. The square washers lock into the face of the wobble-roller, centering the bolt.  Tighten the lot and tack weld the nut on or you could use a locknut or Locktite. You should have about 50mm of thread sticking out – the drill chuck goes over this. The shaft of the bolt on the other end is covered with the tubing to form a handle.

To use: The oars /spars are shaped as close as practical with a spokeshave. To sand - Turn the sanding belt inside out and place over the spar. The wobble-roller drives the sanding belt via electric or battery drill. Keep the belt moving up and down the spar by changing the angle slightly. You’ll soon get the hang of it.  Rotate the spar through the 4 quarters. Finish with fine grit by hand, rubbing down the grain.
This is a real labour-saving device that makes a spar or oar perfectly round eliminating quickly all the lumps and bumps. Brilliant idea, Bill!
( P.S If it’s not “world-famous” yet – it soon will be!)

The “Bill Roland world-famous spar and oar sander” in use.

From our archives

  • Members Coastal Cruising 2016; article submitted by Ian Kirk

    Ian Kirk recounts a coastal cruising passage with two WBAQ members by sail from Moreton Bay to the southern GBR & return June 2016 source The Log, WBAQ August, 2016 WBAQ members Ivan Scott, Bruce Morris and Ian Kirk departed from Macleay Island on Ivan’s 10 metre Crowther catamaran ‘Dakini’ for a cruise north on Monday 20th. June. Initially the trip was entitled ‘Three men in a Boat’ but that somehow in the rampant camaraderie of three mates sailing up the coast morphed into ‘the Cruise of The C...