I have made several, partly because kids like to leave them on the dock after an afternoon of sailing. For materials it depends on what's local. Here in the US Southwest, I find wood or aluminum hockey sticks for the tiller, and graphite or carbon fiber golf club shafts for the extension, all for a dollar or two at the local thrift store. Depending on your geography, you might have better luck with ski poles, fishing rods, or broom handles. The hockey sticks are often laminated wood and exactly one inch wide, and the golf clubs already have a nice rubber grip. I had no luck with DIY universals, so I get the cheap universal from Intensity, and the clamcleat, and use a two inch long piece of half-inch diameter aluminum tube epoxied to the end of the shaft. I use a small screw to hold the universal to the aluminum until I like it enough to make permanent. I like to have a couple tiller options because I need a short one when I sit on or near the back deck and my passenger is way up front. When I take out two kids, I use a short tiller with no extension, as one of us functions as a dedicated helmsman.
Speaking of thrift stores, you also might try aluminum crutches, or even the wooden ones. They might have the right kind of bend in them to get over the traveler cleat. And if you can find an aluminum walking cane, they often are adjustable, like the crutches are, so I may try that next time.
Please keep in mind that you don't want anything too strong, because you want it to break or flex if there's a mishap. I came up from a violent deathroll once and had a huge leg bruise from getting twisted up in the tiller extension because I tried to stay dry.
I would also like some opinions about this.
But I only want to make a low profile tiller because I always have a problem with my traveller block getting caught on it during tacks and gybes.
It would be much appreciated if you could suggest what materials I should use and how to fit the rudder insert onto these materials.
It would help to know what your objectives are (I want to learn about using laminates/composites or just want to make a tiller for hacking around etc), and your budget. No point in telling you to use carbon fiber if your budget is $30 and you don't know how to create a laminate
Wood - the hockey stick suggestion above is what many have used - IIRC, one of the width/height dimensions is a perfect match for the width of the rudder head (I believe 1") The wood used in hockey sticks is also very stiff which is what you want for a tiller.
If the width/height needs to be trimmed down, use a sander, don't carve. If it has to be built up for a tighter fit, use a thickened epoxy, (either blend your own or something like Marine-Tex)
Lacrosse sticks (aluminum and occasionally more exotic such as titanium and carbon fiber) is another potential source, usually free if you find someone with cast-offs
Hey all, I got a boat this week w/o the tiller... I have the rudder but am unsure as to how it really fits into the rudder "head/casting." Is it drilled in or locknuts or what the heck? Any pics anyone may have would help as I can't see from the photos of Laser online. K
The plastic end fits over a round shape, which I believe is 1" or just under. With some work (or a lathe) you could shape the end of the hockey stick to fit (and use some thickened epoxy to fill any gaps)