The next step is making the inside and outside stems. It took me a little while to twig how this goes together, it not explicit in the book. The inside stem provides a point for the cedar strips that will form the hull to attach to. The outside stem will go on top once the stripping is done and finish it off.

My inside stems are white ceder, the outside stems are ash. I chose ceder for the inside as I’m going to need to shape them to provide a beveled edge for the strips to attach to. Ceder will be easier to work than Ash. The inside and outside stems are steam bent together so they’ll fit together perfectly later on.

Because it’s a big bend both the ash and ceder need to be steamed before bending, this is the only part of the project that needs steam. I’ve never done this before and was quite apprehensive about ruining the nice (and expensive!) ash I got. The book warns that you only have 45 seconds to complete the job before the wood cools down too much. A test when setting up showed me that the ash would quickly snap and not bend if too cool.

First step steamed and bent around the frame

In the end though it went very well. It was very satisfying to feel the wood willingly bend to shape around my mould, and 45 seconds was plenty to time to get the shape right.

Steaming was done in my high tech wood steaming apparatus. This consists of on old kettle with the thermostat taken out, a bit of drain pipe, and some rags. The book says to add the wood when the pipe gets hot. However I found that the pipe softens under the heat and collapses, so better to add the wood at the start to keep it all together. After around 15 minutes the kettle was almost boiled dry, so I took the wood out and it was ready.

My high tech wood steamer

I don’t have enough clamps to make stems for both ends at the same time (they have to sit on the mould for a day or so to dry). I have a feeling I’m going to need to buy many more clamps before this project is finished.

My stems are laminates of three pieces of wood each. The next step will be to mix up some epoxy to fix the laminates together.