Pre Stitching Standalone Chunks

Rudder – Raw Build

I am building the rudder before I begin the hull. No particular strategy here except it feels easier to do as much benchwork as I can before the boat starts taking up space.

One reason I am enjoying this boat so much more than my last is that it’s taking more thought and tool work (I’m not about to say craftsmanship). For instance, creating the taper of the rudder reads as if it’s easy but when I get into it I have to think a little bit about how to actually do it. If you do a lot of woodworking, you’ll likely be much quicker on the draw.

At this point, my rudder skins have 3 coats of epoxy on the inside faces and are sanded smooth. In the kit, I have my rough cut spacer pieces and templates for how all but the 5″ vertical will be cut. There is also a template for the taper of the bottom spacer piece.

The easiest cut was the 5″ vertical spacer. The trick here was to work off the tiller slot location. Find that by aligning and clamping the template for the very ‘top’ spacer block onto the rudder skin (or the spacer itself if you’ve already cut it based on the template). Then place your tiller template where the slot will be. This was not obvious to me until I looked at the plans but from the plan drawing you can see that the 5″ spacer is then placed so as to ‘pinch’ the tiller in the slot at the point of that little notch in the tiller. And since the outside edge of the 5″ spacer is lined up with the edge of the rudder skin, a little space is created in the tiller slot so that the tiller can pivot up and down a few degrees.

Templates from the kit are used to cut the remaining spacer blocks.

I found that my trailing edge vertical spacer was short by a 1/4″ or so.

My fix is to take an offcut from the bottom spacer (don’t need much) and glue it onto this spacer to make it longer. Then use the template to cut for a fit. That worked fine.

Now all my blocking fits and I’m ready to do my tapers.


The bottom horizontal piece uses the taper template. Cut the lines with a bandsaw then use a small plane and sandpaper to finish it up.

The long, vertical, trailing edge piece was clamped to the edge of a bench and worked down with a rasp. Then finished off with the sander. I used the taper template to trace the taper on the two ends of the block, then a straight edge to draw lines along the length of the block on both the front and back. That way, clamped on the bench, I could see the lines I was working to from any angle.

The fin looking piece was the toughest. This is the curved piece of block at the top of the trailing edge that requires a compound taper. I went through two pieces before I got it right on the third. As demonstrated in the manual I used an angle grinder on the first two and it was just too much tool. On the third I went back to my rasp and simply kept flipping the piece over and over, taking off and shaping each time until I got there.

The rudder is fine, but I wish my fin taper was a little better. After the glueup you can tell it’s not…right. The picture below isn’t a great representation because it’s hard to get the right perspective with a camera shot. You’re looking edge-on at the fin blocking piece. Notice how the right side of the block seems almost straight, where the left side definitely tapers in. The right skin is the one glued to the fin block first. The second skin (on left) was glued on a day or so later.

I didn’t taper my fin my feel. I drew lines and then cut to the lines. So the fin should have had a pretty good symmetrical taper. But it glued up AS IF the skin was fixed flat to the bench (I glued one skin at a time) and the fin block was then clamped to conform to the flat skin. But this is not what I did. As you can see from one of the pictures above, when I glued the blocking to the first skin, the entire unit was blocked up off the benchtop. The thin skin should have conformed to the shape of the fin block, not vice versa as it appears.

In the end, this piece won’t be in the water and so won’t affect performance. But I do wish it looked a little better, though I’ll be the only one who ever notices. I wish I could give some advice to future builders but I don’t know how it happened. I will update this post if I am ever so enlightened.

All cleaned up. I went with Brent’s recommendation of using a Shinto rasp rather than a belt sander and found that to be a great way to go. Less mess and more control.

Will address adding the foot and finishing the piece in another post.

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