Rowing oars propel boats and come in three basic blade shapes, including the macon blade, the cleaver blade and the square blade. Rowing oars have a fixed fulcrum to facilitate the push and pull of a rower's motions.
Rowing oars consist of a long shaft handle with a flat end section. This flat end section is known as the blade.
Macon blade oars lack speed, and novice rowers often use them for training. They are symmetrical and are shaped like ellipses. These oars have a squared-off blade with a ridgeline that runs down the blade's center. Macon blade oars are also called "tulips," "shovels" and "spoons."
Cleaver blade oars, also known as hatchet oars, are the most common oars. The cleaver oar is rectangular in shape and looks like a meat cleaver. Cleaver blades are asymmetrical and are offset to maximize the surface of the blade that contacts the water during rowing. This shape minimizes shaft drag and increases rowing speed. Due to the asymmetrical nature of its blade, rowers can use the cleaver oar only on one side of the boat.
Square blade oars, also known as standard oars or coffin oars, were developed before macon blade oars. These early oars have long, thin shapes that contribute to increased drag in the water. They are mostly obsolete in rowing and were replaced by the shorter and wider macon and cleaver oars.