Rule #5. Measure twice, cut once. You’d think I know this already! But it happened.
Once I start building the hull, my garage is going to get very small, so I decided to go ahead and build the rudder early while I still had a little bit of space. Iain Oughtred shows two rudder styles on his plans – A fixed blade rudder and a “lifting” rudder that allows the rudder blade to swing up when encountering thin water. The lifting rudder is a little more trouble to make but I knew from experience that this is what I needed.
I liked the style of the fixed blade rudder, but in my mind the lifting rudder didn’t have the classic look I was after. Another gripe was that in both rudders, the rudder trunk was low, with the tiller running through the transom. Having a hole cut in the transom seemed like a good way for green water to enter the boat; I preferred a tiller that came over the top of the transom.
So I designed a lifting rudder that mimicked the style of the fixed blade rudder Iain had drawn, but extended the rudder trunk so that the tiller would come over the transom rather than through it. I have a nice tiller on Wee Lass; the new rudder would allow me to use this tiller if I chose.
Patterns were made of the rudder trunk and blade to verify proof of concept (see Rule #4), then cherry was used for the rudder trunk and some left-over mahogany was used for the blade. The rudder trunk consists of two sides and a filler piece. Like the inner stem, blanks of cherry were glued together to make oversize pieces for the sides. These were then clamped to the pattern piece and the router used to cut to final shape. Likewise for the filler piece and the blade. The rudder trunk and blade received two coats of varnish. Additional coats will come later, but the trunk will have to be inlet to receive the rudder hardware – that will come later after the hull is planked and turned right side up.
It was only after I assembled the rudder that I realized the rudder blade had been milled 1/4″ too thin. The gap between the blade and the trunk was much more than I wanted. Hence, Rule #5. It was quicker and easier to make a new blade than a new trunk, so the rudder now has both trunk and blade made from cherry. In the meantime, I’ve got a nice new mahogany blade which will likely be cut up and used for small fittings.