inner stem

The kit for the Little Auk 11 came with a very narrow piece of MDF for the inner stem. Is this to be used as a template for making an inner and exterior stem? That's my assumption since the inner stem gets beveled to accept the strips, and there wouldn't be much left of the MDF piece.

Could someone add some detail to this process? Yes, I have both of Nick's books but this smaller boat seems to require some modifications to the standard.



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RE: inner stem

Hi Blair, 

i can appreciate the confusion.  while i have not built the little auk, i have built a number of strip build kayaks and the point you bring up did have me confused the first time.

so yes,  the little pieces of MDF are typically the template for the inner stems.....the template...and not the actual inner stems.

in the picture below, from my recent petrel build, you see the templates on the right side of the screen and in this case, i am making some cedar inner stems from some excess cedar strip which is what you see on the left.  at this time the cedar strip inner stem was sized to the template but they have not been cut back yet to match the template.

in the next picture, you can see the strongback and forms together and i am just testing the fit of everything...and you can see in front of the bow form, the place where the inner stem piece will fit in.

and now in this picture, you can see the inner stem, which has been carved to the template shape and beveled, is now being test fit in place.

after all this test fitting, the inner stem is temporarily taped in place and isolated with tape (so it does not stick to the inner form) and the stripping begins and you can now see the strip being stapled and glued to the inner stem.

i hope these pictures help clarify how you approach it.

the only other comment i would make is that you can make the inner stem out of solid wood of various species (spruce, cypress, cedar, etc) or lay it up like i did with some scrap.  whatever it is is going to be out of sight.  so i just laminated some cedar becuase i happened to have some extra strips and didn't want to do any more shopping.  it is also light and very easy to work with.  

i hope this helped.


RE: inner stem

Excellent post by my friend hspira above.  The only thing that I would add is that it is worthwhile to watch one of Nick's videos where he shapes the inner stem.  He uses a pretty neat trick that makes it much easier to hold the blank while shaping.  If you look at hspira's un-shaped stem blank above, you can see that it is pretty small, so it may be a bit hard to hold while shaping.  Once you have traced the stem ouline onto the hardwood, do not cut the whole thing out, only cut the line in areas where the stem will be shaped.  This will be the front, bottom and maybe top of the bow stem and back, bottom and maybe top of the stern stem.  The uncut side of the stem will give you enough room to clamp it to your work table while trimming.  Once you have the other three sides shaped, you can use a saw to cut the line on the fourth side.

Pictures below are from my Mystery build.  In that kit, the stem templates are not precut but the outline is CNC cut into the bow/sterm forms.  I highlighted the line with red margic marker.  2nd and 3rd pictures are the hardwood stems in place.


RE: inner stem

   Thank you both for the detailed replies. Regarding Nick's video, that is exactly what prompted my question. I hadn't seen anything describing that process in the books. Now I need to look ahead for a video on the outer stem. I have built several canoes from Bear Mountain Boats and so I'm confident in my ability to steam and bend some laminates. On the canoes though, the stem got mortised into the bilge. I'll start studying this part next. I recognize the importance of understanding what's coming long before you get there.



RE: inner stem

   Looking for some help first time builder. Petrel kit. Received the inner stem pattern pieces, as shown in pix above, but the is no notch as shown in the second set of pix on the end form where the stern end of the stem is to mount, unless I'm supposed to cut. Any help appreciated 


RE: inner stem

Hi David, 

i read your question, but it's not clear to me what you are asking.  can you post a picture of the area of concern and describe it a bit more.  i am sure with a picture we can figure it out.  i have built the petrel....just can't understand your question.


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