Making a Rudder Template


A Zeeland scow like the 'Nieuwe Zorg' has a suspended rudder. In other words, it is suspended from the hull using steel pins on the stern post (image 9). For a rudder like this, thick strong and broad planks are used because the rudder is subjected to considerable force during steering. To determine the correct shape and size of the rudder the boat builder first of all makes a template of the rudder.


The rudder of a scow is constructed from a number of strong planks. The basis consists of three planks: a forward section, aft section and a bottom section. Various additional reinforcements are then attached to these. On the top there is a curved rudder ‘klik’ – an ornate coping on the top of the rudder, to which the tiller is secured which rests on two chocks on either side of the rudder. At the bottom there is reinforcing piece and a filler piece in the centre of the triangle. The planks are connected using steel pins. To make a rudder a template is made first. The rudder template is built from three long pieces of plywood and two shorter pieces. Proceed as follows:

  • Saw out three wide and long pieces of plywood and place these on a flat base (image 2). Put the bottom section down first. Placed on top of this, at 90 degrees, is then the back – the aft section. The longest strip of plywood is then placed on the front, overlapping the aft section (image 3).

  • The forward section runs parallel with the inclined angle of the stern post, and on the top a straight line runs from the top of the post across the rudder. The bottom section protrudes around 10 centimetres below the bilge but rises slightly towards the back in line with the bilge.

  • Once the triangle has the required shape the parts are screwed together using a few screws (image 4) so that the template can be fitted to ‘in-situ’ on the stern post.

  • If required, the back of the bottom section can be fitted with a wear guard (image 6). The purpose of this is to protect the rudder against wear, for example when the boat is sailing through sand and mud in shallow water. Screw this wear guard onto the plywood triangle so you can see what it looks like.

  • The rudder ‘klik’, which protrudes - with a nice curve – slightly forward of the highest point of the stern post. Also fix this piece onto the plywood triangle so you can see what it looks like (image 1).

  • Now fix two assistance laths to the bottom and the top of the stern post. Lift the plywood template into position and screw it onto the two assistance laths at the height at which the rudder is to be fitted, leaving sufficient space for the rudder fittings between the stern post and the template (image 7).

  • From a short distance away you can now see whether the shape, the size and the lines are as required. If necessary make a few adjustments to the plywood strips until you are happy with the result (image 8).

  • Now mark the following dimensions onto the template:
    • Waterline
    • Vertical
    • Chocks
    • Position of rudder fittings
    • Propeller window
    • Hook position

These dimensions can be clearly marked when the template is suspended from the boat and will assist when assembling the rudder. Attention: do not use any steel pins at the location of the rudder fittings.

  • Unscrew the template. It is now ready for the dimensions to be transferred to the planks that you want to use for making the rudder.
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Tools Required

  • Folding rule
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Small screws
  • Cordless drill

Materials Required

  • Sheets of plywood