There are several different methods of
building a stem.
They can be made in one piece, either sawn from a crook or steam bent.
Others are built up, either by laminating or the traditional method of
several pieces together.
All of them are susceptible to end-grain rot.
Rot at the top, where it pokes up above the deck is relatively minor
Rot at the bottom end is more serious.
The fore peak is an area where ventilation is poor at the best of times
often made worse by being enclosed with lockers, such as the chain
corrosion can affect all forms, especially where the stem meets the
The type of stem which is built from bolted sections is particularly
to fastening corrosion which, can lead to the seams opening.
On older boats iron bolts have been used, these may have worked rather
during their lifetime unfortunately, their life time is fairly
Initially as the joint ‘works’ and increases in size, water
penetrates along the bolts causing them to rust, the rust expands
hole until it widens some more, then more expanding rust refills the
until there isn’t enough sound metal left.
This type of construction can also suffer from opening joints as a
the wood being allowed to shrink too often when it dries out.
Having cut out
the damage I now took
another template of the gap and scarfs using stiff card.
Then having planed the replacement
timber to the width of
the original I used the two templates to mark out the new shape.
This I cut out over sized.
Any subsequent adjustments to
size and shape were going
to have to be made to the new piece due to the lack of space between
From there on it was a case of
holding the new piece to
the gap marking trimming and trying again until the scarfs fitted.
Once I was happy with the new
piece I propped it in place
and took a template of the inside surface to cut the replacement knee
The knee was made from the
same width timber as the stem
When I was satisfied with the
fit, both pieces were
propped and wedged in place and the holes for the through bolts
Bolted together with the new
silicon bronze bolts and
having checked and fared all the joints I then released the hood ends
marked the rabbet line, making sure that it coincided with the existing
With the new piece out
again, I fared the line with
a bendy batten.
Then, I chiseled out the
rabbet, constantly checking that
the angles were correct to take the plank ends.
Either end of the rabbet was
left rough for final faring
to the old when bolted in place.
When I was eventually happy
with the fit I cut the outer
shape using the original template.
The final faring was done when
it was all bolted in
Due to the lack of space the stopwaters
outside the rabbet line.
Finally, everything was soaked
in creosote, the scarfs
and stopwaters were bedded with a bedding compound and the whole bolted
The hood ends were screwed
back in place using screws one
size larger than original nail holes.
I also replaced all the other
hood end fastenings with
The final caulking
was left until I had
replaced the damaged planks when I re-caulked the whole hull.
I am perfectly aware that the majority of Wooden Boat aficionados are sensible folk. However, I need to point out that I am an amateur wooden boat enthusiast simply writing in order to try to help other amateur wooden boat enthusiasts. And while I take every care to ensure that the information in DIY Wood Boat.com is correct, anyone acting on the information on this website does so at their own risk.