Thursday 1 April 2021

Rudder | Making & Fitting Cheek Pieces

The next project was to finish making the rudder, which had so far proved troublesome. I hoped fitting the cheek pieces would be more straightforward.

First I cleaned up the rudder blade with the sander. Here it is on the bench.

That's looking a lot better.

Next I turned my attention to chamfering the edges of the cheek pieces. The rudder becomes a pretty massive structure when the cheek pieces are in place, and would look ungainly without an all round chamfer to the cheeks.

In the build manual the builder glues the cheek pieces in place and chamfers them afterwards with a router, but I could not see how it would be possible to achieve this on the bottom edge of each cheek piece where it would not be possible to deploy a bearing or pin guided cutter of any kind.

So I decided to chamfer the cheek pieces before fitting them, and I would do so on the router table.

But when I assembled the table I found that the aperture in the table top was too small for the 45 degree chamfer cutter which was required. Undeterred I enlarged the aperture with an abrasive cylinder, as here.

I then found that the aperture in the fence was also too small for the cutter, so I abandoned that approach.

I sometimes wish that this router would simply stop working altogether so I would have to buy a modern fit-for-purpose model with a 1/2 " shaft, but it has been going strong for well over forty years now. If I am ever foolish enough to do this sort of thing again I will have to replace it.

I then decided to fasten a guide of some kind to the cheek pieces so that I could use the router free hand with the bearing guided cutter.

I ended up making a spacer to join the two cheek pieces together, allowing each side to be chamfered all round in one pass.

Here is the ply cheek and MDF scrap 'sandwich' being finished in the vice.

Here it is being drilled for temporary screws to hold it together.

And here it is after being clamped to a saw horse and having one edge chamfered by the router.

This is the cutter.

It only just fits through the base of the 1/4" shaft router. I really will have to get one which is big enough for boatbuilding activities.

Next I cleaned up the sandwich on the bench, as here.

Finally I took the sandwich apart and admired the two chamfered cheek pieces, side by side. Like this.

They turned out pretty nice!

At some point in the previous weeks I had noticed that the top of the rudder had a very small curve, from the bottom of the tiller slot upwards. It was very slight and would probably not even be noticeable, but in the end I couldn't live with it and resolved the problem by cutting through one side of the slot. Like this.

The curve will be eradicated when the cheeks are glued up.

Next was a test installation to make sure everything fitted together properly, as here.

I used three temporary screws on each each cheek, to prevent them sliding around when glued up and clamped. You can see the ply washers used to prevent the screws damaging the cheeks. 

Finally the rudder and cheek pieces were glued and joined permanently together, like this.

This rudder really is a lot of work, and it is still far from finished!

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