Preview: Building Wooden Boat Steering Wheels at Brooklin Boatyard

February 18, 2012

Eric Blake

The steering wheels that come from most boats at the Brooklin Boat Yard are some of the coolest I’ve seen up close. My boss Steve’s boat Vortex has one of the first of this kind built. Having sailed Vortex and been at her wheel for a trip back from Newport, I can attest to how comfortable they are to steer with. On a long offshore passage there isn’t much to look at, why not have something unique to ponder over.

Wooden Boat Steering Wheel

The jig is made to the inside diameter of the rim. The spokes are laid up on a separate jig made to a tighter radius, and are cut out and tapered before being placed on the big jig. The spokes are glued back-to-back with their inboard ends trimmed to fit the center hub, which is out being cast at the foundry now, and will be machined and engraved upon its return t the yard. Occasionally, hubs will be sent out yet again to be powder coated. Quite a process eh?

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