One Ocean Kayaks Home
Rudder Construction Intro.
  • Mounting a rudder on a 'rudderless' kayak
  • Overview of do-it-yourself composite parts
  • Materials

The majority of kayak manufacturers and designers do not shape their kayak sterns to fit a rudder. The ones that do, often mount the rudder on the kayak from the outset. How do you then install a rudder on a kayak that has no provisions for it? One tempting option is to get a mass produced rudder kit but you will discover that those come with mounting brackets which are all but useless in most cases. The only practical answer is to form your own composite bracket directly on your kayak to achieve the perfect custom fit and strong grip. If you then go into the trouble of making a custom bracket, why not build a stronger and nicer rudder while you are at it with no or minimal additional expense.

The typical case of the 'round peg rammed into a square hole' solution. This bracket is pretty much what comes with all kits. I made it from marine grade stainless steel for the Cape Ann and the Double but the sterns were modified during construction to fit this particular shape. If you do not have the option to modify the kayak stern, building something more workable is the only approach.

A possible mounting solution for a kayak with flat stern using the 'square bracket'. The bracket can be either stainless steel or composite material. This option is a possibility while you are building the kayak or are willing to rip into an existing (wooden) kayak stern and create this "mounting block".

Option number two - the one most rudder builders have to resort to. Most suitable for plastic or composite kayaks or when you don't feel like chopping the kayak stern.

Here is the almost completed rudder assembly in the last stage of fine tuning. This composite rudder hinge is shaped to conform to my aesthetic whim. You can give it any shape you like. The important feature is that it was molded directly over the kayak stern, providing it with the EXACT imprint of the kayak curvature. The carbon construction is also very stiff and in combination with near 100% surface contact and snug fit, it assures secure grip on the stern. Only four small wood screws hold it in place. Since the bracket is molded, you can adopt it to any kayak, canoe or whatever craft can use a rudder of this type.

Builders of the Carbon Rudder will find the entire lay-up, mounting and adjustment procedure covered step by step in the On-line Rudder Manual.

  Examples of rudder brackets that kayak builders have made

1) Wrap around molded bracket on a Storm similar to the one above. 2) Composite "square bracket" similar to the stainless type above. 3) Composite molded bracket on a Pygmy Coho.

4) Another version of composite "C" bracket. 5) Wrap-around bracket made for Baidarka double. 6) Wrap-around bracket made for a CLC stern.

Close up of the composite bracket/ hinge. If you have a plastic kayak, the fastening of the bracket can be done with 'carry -through' bolts sealed with a few dabs of marine sealant under the bracket as well as under and around the bolts. If you have a composite or wood kayak, you can also bond the bracket directly to the stern with epoxy or other strong adhesive (no drilling).


The 'blade retraction bracket' is the last piece of the rudder assembly that you need to make (the manual shows how). The function of this piece is to hold the rudder locked during transport or when you don't use it. Since the rudder blade is immobilized, the footbraces will be locked also (on push) to offer good bracing support. As is the case with the square rudder bracket, most commercial kits provide only an "L-shaped" piece of hardware that will not readily (or securely) mount on rounded decks and in fact almost any kayak. Some "rudder kits designs" completely dispense with this bracket so on retraction, the rudder blade assumes a "pointed dog tail" look on the kayak - not very cool looking not to mention unhelpful in windy conditions.


Rough list of materials to build the Carbon Rudder:

Note: The Rudder Mechanism Kit does NOT supply composite materials or composite prefinished parts. See kit contents

  • 1 quart (1liter) of epoxy (total volume of resin and hardener) See epoxy test
  • 1-2 yards (1,5 meters) of 5.7oz. 2x2 twill carbon cloth 50" wide (assumes no fiberglass is used. If you have some fiberglass, 1 yard is enough)
  • varnish or polyurethane See varnishing
  • plywood scraps or some flat sheets of Formica or equivalent (0,5m2 or 1x4ft board)
  • self adhesive shelf plastic (clear and smooth) or equivalent
  • a few epoxy brushes, couple sheets of wet/dry sandpaper (60dry,180w, 360w grit)
  • jigsaw, orbital sander, finish sander - optional. Everything can be done with hand tools
  • drill set

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If you notice any problems with the site (i.e. error links, missing images) please, let me know. Thanks

Vaclav Stejskal
10 Colonial Court apt. 73
Stoneham, MA. 02180
Tel:  781-481-9261


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Last page update: 11 January 2020

Click for close-up view Yakima foot braces