Skeg Work

While waiting for more epoxy to arrive, I set my sights on the skegs.  It’s funny how some steps in this build seem to weigh more heavily on my mind than others.  The skegs have always been a bit bothersome to me.

Let me count the ways:

  1. The bottom skeg curve needs to match the boat hull (on each side…they are different)
  2. The top skeg curve needs to match the opposite skeg (for equal resistance and proper stance)
  3. The skegs need to be glued on exactly parallel to each other (or my boat will be doing the snow plow through the water)
  4. The skegs need to be glued on 90 degrees off the hull (or my boat will want to roll off center)

No Pressure…  

 But, I had no epoxy…so the only thing to do was move forward with the skegs.  DSC00036I started by clamping a pattern piece (1 x 10 x 8 pine) against the jig.  This seemed like an effective ‘ham n egger’ way to trace the proper bottom curve of the skeg.DSC00039I then began to fine tune this pattern piece to fit the hull.  I notice right away, that both sides of the hull are a little different…so one pattern did not fit both sides.  I chose to build the starboard skeg first, then reshaped the pattern a bit to fit the port side.DSC00041 I then traced this pattern onto a red oak plank (8″ x 1,1/2″ x 8′).DSC00040After some work (correction, after a fair amount of work) the bottom curve snuggled closely to the hull.  I chose not to cut the top curve until I had the hull curve correct.  This left me with plenty of wood to work with for proper height of the skeg.

This is one of those things that you look at several times before deciding it is good enough.  Then, you look at it some more and continue working on it.  After several iterations of this loop, you finally decide you’re done.DSC00046After transposing the offsets from the plans to the skeg plank, I used my jig saw to cut the shapely side of the skeg.  This piece was entirely too big for me to handle on my band saw, so the jig saw was commandeered into service.DSC00047 Well, as you know, a jig saw will not cut a 90 degree angle from the board face.  Instead it gets pushed around a bit, especially when cutting 6/4 hardwood.  I turned to the Shinto rasp to file the cut surface flat and smooth out the wows.  DSC00048DSC00049 I then ran a 1/4″ rounder bit on all edges.  The front edge will be epoxied and faired after installation to the hull.  I did create a much more gradual ramp than shown in the plans for easier trailer loading.DSC00050DSC00035 DSC00040I’m very satisfied with the results.  I can now breath a sigh of relief and wait for the epoxy to arrive.


5 thoughts on “Skeg Work

  1. Brent –

    I like the way you tackled this stage of the build. I don’t think you will have a problem with the Red Oak skegs if they are well encapsulated and shod with UHMW or stainless/brass to protect the bottoms from rock gouging etc. Maybe thinned varnish soaked and then epoxy encapsulated? See Maurer’s comments below

    Check out this video about water absorption and Red Oak:

    Here’s a Facebook comment from Ed Maurer that bears reading:
    “Brilliant demonstration! Red oak has been effectively used for over a century in small craft, such as sailing canoes, because of its flexibility. Properly treated red oak works great for “dry-sailed” boats that don’t live in the water. (If memory serves, Rushton used it.)

    Proper treatment includes applying several applications of varnish, for example, to it which, as so aptly demonstrated, is pulled through the wood, thus creating a better seal than a mere surface seal that white oak would have. This “through and through” seal means damaged wood would still be sealed because of the presence of the varnish created by the capillary action that causes it to impregnate — I’ll stress this: IMPREGNATE — the wood instead of just adding a protective layer.

    Would I use red oak on a boat that lives in the water? Probably not. Have I for dry-sailed boats? Yes, and have for years with ZERO failures.”


    • Simeon,
      Thanks for that informative comment. I did not realize that red oak was so porous. After watching the youtube video, it gave me pause. Do I rebuild in white oak or just take very thorough precautions to seal the wood.
      I’ve decided to epoxy the red oak extra careful and run two strips of fiberglass down each skeg so I can keep an eye on the wear surface. I’ll place 4 coats of graphite epoxy over the 2 base coats of clear epoxy. This way I can tell when I am getting close to wearing through.
      I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.

  2. Looking nice, Brent. If you are going to put a slot gasket on, just remember to keep the skeg away from the slot enough to make your life easier at that point. I made sure I had room for the fillet, then the width of the adhesive tape, and then room for the gasket to flex. For me, that worked out to 1 3/4″ from the skeg to the inside of the centerboard slot. — Dave

  3. Dave, Thanks for the comment. At this point, I’m not planning on using a gasket. I want everything to fall out as quick as it enters, hence I’ve decided not to use a gasket. Also, we have mandatory boat inspections in Idaho…those guys might want to shine their flashlight up into the CB slot, so I’m leaving it open for inspections.


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