can anyone explain the relativeness 'bluntness' of the stems on this design, or, for that matter, the purpose of any outside stem that's going to be fiberglassed over?
Ok, well here is an attempted explanation, comparatively speaking.
This first pic is the stem of a royalite Nova Craft Prospector.
You can see that it is quite thick a victim of the trade of of having royalite.
This next pic is a Nova Craft Prospector in fiberglass
This next picture is the exact same model and make, but in tough stuff.
A bit thinner, but not much
An here is the raven
I always keep the stripper around 1/2 inch for one reason...so I can mount the 3/8 inch brass stem band on them.
Your wood/canvas is probably the same width, perhaps even more, as they often use a 1/2 inch brass stem band on w/c canoes.
As far as stems vs no stems, it's a personal choice of aesthetics. i like the look, and I like brass stem bands. I also like the way it caps all the strips. But each to their own, I have built stemless as well, but I also used a kayak paddle once.