Abstract We present a method for constructing blades of hydroelectric turbines and ship propellers based on design parameters that possess a clear hydraulic meaning. The design process corresponds to the classical construction of a blade using the medial surface of the blade and profile curves attached to it. The main new contribution of the paper consists in realizing this construction using B-spline techniques. In particular, it is shown how to obtain blade boundary surfaces (which describe the pressure and the suction side of the blade) which are joined with C1-smoothness along the leading edge. Moreover, special attention is paid to the construction of propeller blades with a well-defined tangent plane at the tip, which is a singular point of the blade boundary surfaces. In order to guarantee these smoothness properties, we generate and analyze singularly parameterized medial surfaces. We contribute novel shape modeling techniques that are based on singular parameterizations and demonstrate their potential for applications in industry. Finally, it is shown how to represent the blades as B-spline surfaces with a relatively small number of control points.