Cheeks, Arms, Mortise and Tenons

This part of the construction has been the most challenging. Many weeks ago I shaped the rudder foil (fine sanding and glassing still remain to be done). Weeks before that the rudder cheeks were cut from cherry and set aside. Now it must all come together … and work!

A model was made in SketchUp:

The hardware I selected rabbeted the rudder gudgeons and employed cherry wedges to align a 5/16″ rod through stem gudgeons.


This allowed for precise location of rabbets needed in cheeks which were routed with a clamped fence.
router/fence set up.


Stop block to left.


Finished routed fit.
Single cheek and gudgeons.

Before cheeks and inner spacer (1″ douglas fir) were glued, brass sheaves for control lines were located, and pilot holes for these lines were bored. One hole went astray and required plugging.

Rudder head clamp up. Rod positioned for square alignment.
For the tiller arm  a 5 degree “advance” was given to the arm instead of making it perpendicular to the rudder. Made of white oak, it is some hard stuff to cut, rasp, plane and file. This was really my first use of the spokeshave which proved a fun tool for sculpting the underside of the arm.
Rudder mortise and arm tenon.
Arm fitted after much filing.
A mortise in the tiller arm accommodates a wedge of cherry. This is an amazingly tight combination. The wedge has a hole for securing with line and I exaggerated the head for easier removal.
Wedge and sheave holes.
Tiller arm sweep.

One of the wonderful aspects of this build has been the ability to individualize it as one’s own. Sculpting these pieces has been especially rewarding. A challenge accepted with some clean up still needed.

Next? I’m thinking mast steps and breasthooks.

2 thoughts on “Cheeks, Arms, Mortise and Tenons

  1. Hi Eddie,
    The boat looks fantastic. Really great craftsmanship. Keep up the good work!
    I'm building a Sooty Tern as well, out here in Wisconsin. I'm at about the same stage as you are, the boat is right side up, painted, but I've not got the rub rails on yet. I'm varnishing the spars and rudder down in the basement until it gets warm enough to get working out in the garage again. How will you be fastening the gudgeons to the stern stem? I can't seem to source bolts long enough to do the job. I hope I can get some tips from you as I go along, you seem like you've got nice solutions to the problems I'll be facing this spring. Steve R.

  2. Hey Steve,
    Thanks. I'd like to see some pics if you have any. For the rudder gear I've gudgeons with a continuous rod. Stem gudgeons required some scribed wedges. I'll post solution soon. There is a post showing a sketch on here. Hope to see some pics from you. Great boat we're building!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s