Hole cutters are the tools used for punching holes through fabric to make way for grommets and fasteners to be installed. Over the course of several big canvas projects your hole cutters can see a lot of use. If you start to notice that they aren’t cutting as well as they used to you can sharpen up your hole cutter. We’re going to show you how and give you some helpful tips for using your hole cutter.

How to Sharpen a Hole Cutter

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Hole cutter with a Dremel tool

If you take a close look at the cutting end of your tool, you’ll notice that the metal is slightly beveled. This bevel is what helps make the tool sharp. If the tool needs sharpening, the bevel might look worn down or be hard to spot at all. Sharpening your tool is basically just recreating that bevel.

To bring back the bevel, you’ll want to use a Dremel tool with an Aluminum Oxide Grinding Bit (we like the cone shaped ones). Run the tool around the outside of the hole cutter’s cutting end to sharpen. This can also be done by taking the hole cutter to a grinder.

Hole Cutting Tips

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  • • To keep your cutter sharp, use a proper cutting block whenever cutting holes. Hitting into softer materials, like pine, will cause your cutter to dull quicker.
  • • When cutting, place your block on a concrete surface. This will eliminate the bouncing you would get on a table and give you a better direction of force, making your cut smoother and easier.
  • • For the best cut in one blow, use a mallet instead of a hammer. Mallets send the best amount of force to your cutter. You can use a hammer, but you will need to hit the cutter several times.

Find the perfect hole cutter for installing fasteners, grommets, and eyelets and all the right accessories at www.sailrite.com.

Have you sharpened your hole cutter before? Did this method work for you? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

2014_October-romanshadeSince we released our popular How to Make Roman Shades video, we’ve been working on finding new ways to make the process of making these beautiful shades even easier. Making your own Roman shades gives your windows a stylish, custom look and is much more affordable than purchasing pre-made shades at the store. We’ve recently added a few pieces of new hardware that help streamline Roman shade construction. Today we’re sharing a new video that shows you how to build a Roman shade using our new Iron-On Roman Rib Tape.

Iron-On Roman Rib Tape gives you an easy way to attach the dowels to your Roman shade, without sewing or gluing. The tape irons right to the back of your shade and features a small pocket in the center that holds the dowels. It works great, especially with our new lightweight, plastic Roman Shade Ribs, which are plastic dowel rods made just for this purpose.

We opted to use a heavy lining this time so the shades will block out more light. Softline’s Suite Blackout Drapery Fabric can be used on its own or as a blackout lining and worked really well for us in this application. We recommend pairing this heavy liner with a lightweight decorator fabric, so the folds will train easier.

In this video, you will learn how to measure your window, pattern the fabric, sew the lining, add ribs, string the shade, build the headrail and install the shade on your window.

 

Materials List:

Find all the materials needed to make your own custom Roman shades at www.sailrite.com.

These instructions are intended for personal use. If making shades to sell or gift, they must comply with the latest safety regulations. To make your shades safety compliant, the lift rings must be no farther apart than 4 inches. To accomplish this, the stack height should be 6 inches. This will result in less visible fabric when the shade is fully open, but will prevent the formation of a hazardous loop.

Warning: Cords can be hazardous, even fatal, to young children. Keep cords out of reach of children. Keep cribs, playpens, and other furniture away from cords. Do not tie cords together or allow cords to twist or loop together.

Have you used these new Roman shade products yet? What do you think of them? Share your projects, experience and advice in the comments!

2014_October_Boat_Show_3

Brian gives a tool demonstration

Another great year at the Annapolis Boat Show has drawn to a close, the booth has been packed away and the Sailrite crew is back in Indiana. It was a banner year for us at the boat show, and the guys had a great time meeting and chatting with all of you! Not even rain on Saturday could keep you away. I asked the boat show team to share their impressions of this years show.

Every year we are surprised and overwhelmed by the creativity and passion that you, our customers, have for DIY. This year we were especially touched at how many customers went out of their way to come and thank us for the machines, customer service and especially the how-to videos.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of visitors who said they loved and used the videos that Sailrite provided to make things for the boat and even their homes using our products,” Eric said. “We also took many requests for future video projects.”

Brian agreed, “It was great how many customers went out of their way just to stop in to thank and compliment the Sailrite team. Everything from the videos to the customer service to how the orders are packed.”

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Matt & customers sport Sailrite hats

Jim, Sailrite’s founder, was pleasantly surprised to see many familiar faces at the boat show, even after having been in retirement for several years.

“It has been four or five years since I last attended the Annapolis Show. […] I was amazed how many customers from 25 years ago or more still come to the show. I really appreciate their stopping by to say hello,” he said.

Everyone has his or her own favorite part of the boat show experience. Eric loves demonstrating the Ultrafeed Sewing Machines, Jim loved working with his sons (Matt and Eric) and the exhilarating, fast pace of the show, and Brian loves sharing the DIY lifestyle with new customers.

“It is also always fun to meet new customers who have never heard of us, and who have never even considered the DIY lifestyle. It is fun to see their eyes light up when we show them how easy a sewing machine is to operate and they realized that they, too can do their own work,” Brian said.

As always, many customers walked away with new Ultrafeed Sewing Machines eager to start sewing their own projects.

“A big welcome to the new Ultrafeed owners who joined the Sailrite family during the show specials,” Matt said.

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Eric & Jim in the Sailrite booth

Matt summed up the weekend best saying, “Great show, great customers, and good times!” We’ll be back at the show next year and it’s never too early to start planning your trip! In the meantime, we’ll keep offering our great products, advice and videos, right here on the blog and at www.sailrite.com.

What is your favorite part of the Annapolis Boat Show? Do you have a great idea for a Sailrite video? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

2014_October-annapolis

When it starts to feel like fall, you know it’s boat show season! Every October we pack up our van and head out to Annapolis, Maryland to attend the United States Sailboat Show. We always look forward to meeting you, our customers, at the show and demonstrating our favorite tools.

We have a great crew that will be at the show this year, demonstrating the Ultrafeed Sewing Machines and accessories as well as answering your questions. We’ll also have demonstrations of our favorite tools like the Sailrite Edge Hotknife, the SnapRite System, and the Pres-N-Snap tool, and a wide variety of notions, how-to DVDs and more.

Before you come to the show, take a minute to meet our talented team! I asked the boat show guys some questions about boat shows, their favorites products, projects and more.

2014 Annapolis Boat Show Crew

Matt G., Sailrite Vice-President

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What’s your favorite part of the boat show each year? Meeting existing and new customers. I also love demonstrating our sewing machines and tools, which are great fun!

How long have you been a sailor? I started racing scows in 1989 with my wife and business partner, Hallie. This year I took a break to spend more time with my family. Prior to racing I sailed everything from Sabots to small sloops for fun.

What sewing project have you completed that you are the most proud of? I have sewn tons of items over the years. I think my favorite was sewing a sail from one of our kits. To me sailmaking is true craftsmanship. I am a perfectionist and I labored at the corners to hand stitch leather chafe patches around rings and at attachment hardware. The sense of accomplishment from sewing and then using a sail is hard to express in words.

What’s one fun fact about you? I love to invent and always have at least three new ideas in some stage of completion. Most of my ideas never go anywhere but I can count at least a dozen that have become valuable assets to the Sailrite Brand.

Eric, Videographer

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What’s your favorite part of the boat show each year?  I like talking to our many customers and showing off the power and performance of our Ultrafeed sewing machines. However, my favorite part of the show is enjoying the fine food in the evenings in the beautiful city of Annapolis.

How long have you been a sailor? Since my parents lived on a sailboat shortly after I was born I would have to say since 1968.

What’s your favorite product from Sailrite? Why? The Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine (I have the LS-1 Plus). I use mine at home regularly to make new cushions, curtains, awnings, chairs, sun shades, and even fix clothing, I love it!

What’s one fun fact about you? I have 6 kids. Three of them were born in the Dominican Republic and one was adopted from Ethiopia, so my time at home is full of excitement and I am never bored!

Brian, Customer Service Manager

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What’s your favorite part of the boat show each year? Getting to see all of the newest trends, specifically in the use of hardware and fabrics for canvas and cushions.

What kind of boat(s) do you sail? I sail a 1987 Seaward 22, which acts as my family’s weekend cottage. We also spend quite a bit of time on the water in our 1977 Marquis runabout.

What sewing project have you completed that you are the most proud of? This changes every season.  Two years ago it was my complete bimini, dodger, and enclosure.  I would have to say this season it is my new interior cushions made with Covington Outdoor fabric.  The project of mine that seems to get the most attention is our pair of sandbar floats (A large one for the kids, and a small one for the dog).  Most people, especially those with dogs have these torn up, crummy looking foam floats that really belong in a dumpster.  Ours were rescued, one from the dumpster, and one from the lake and are covered in Phifertex Plus, constructed as a box cushion.  The kids and dog try their hardest to destroy them every chance they get, but they still look brand new.

What’s one fun fact about you? I rarely miss a single weekend at the lake.  If we are not there on schedule, my wife and I start getting several messages inquiring as to if everything is ok with my family. I also refuse to wear long pants during the boating season.  Given the fact that my season begins in April, I have had some chilly Indiana mornings to contend with.

Jim, Sailrite Founder

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What’s your favorite part of the boat show each year? I wander the show looking for new products and ideas. […] Those of us at Sailrite feel that an important part of our business is learning about and making available to our customers all the latest and best ideas that make sailing more fun. Of course, boat shows are also a great way to renew old friendships with customers and exhibitors. Please stop by and say hello!

What kind of boat(s) do you sail? I look forward to next summer sailing the restored Islander 37 that has been the subject of many recent Sailrite videos. In the meantime, I have sailed an MC Scow on Lake Maxinkukee for the last five years or so. Prior to that there was a Highlander, a Flying Scot, a Rebel, a C Scow, an S2 7.9 and a Lindenberg 22. Of course there have always been Windward Sabots (I own 3), a Hobie 16 and a Laser that can be used by the grandkids as needed.

What sewing project have you completed that you are the most proud of? I am most proud of my sails. It is always nice to win, but when you do it with sails that you have made yourself it is even better.

What’s one fun fact about you? I love to sail. But, as I get older I find sitting in front of a computer programming is almost as satisfying. Much of my time this past summer has been devoted to a new version of the Box Cushion Fabrication App, which should be done within a month or so.

Visit Us at the Show

You can meet all of these great guys and see the tools and products Sailrite has to offer at the Annapolis Boat Show. We’ll be in our usual spot, Tent H: Booth 24-27. They can’t wait to see you!

The United States Sailboat Show starts today (Thursday) with a VIP Preview Day, and opens to everyone tomorrow, Friday, October 10, 2014 from 10 am- 6:30 pm. The show runs through Monday, October 13. To learn more about the show and purchase tickets at the Annapolis Boat Shows Website.

For those of your attending, what are you most excited for at the show this year? Can’t attend? Leave us a virtual message in the comments, we love hearing from you!

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The finished PWC seats

After all those high speed, sun soaked times out on the water this season, do your jet ski seats need a refresh? If your seats look brittle and cracked you can reupholster them following our latest how-to tutorial. We’ll show you two different methods of seat re-upholstery as we recover the seats on a 3 person PWC.

On our personal watercraft, the back seat had vinyl molded to the foam. Instead of trying to remove the foam we just added a new layer of vinyl on top of the old. On the front seat, the vinyl was not molded to the foam, so we removed the old vinyl and completely replaced it. The construction methods for both seats were also a little different. To create a tight fit on the contours of the back seat, we sewed multiple fabric panels together to mimic the shape of the seat. For the front seat, we let the fabric contour more loosely over the seat. Since PWC seat styles can vary greatly, you can take the principles from these two methods and apply them to your seat recovery project.

We chose to use Allsport 4-Way Stretch Vinyl for this project. This material is perfect for personal watercraft seats because it’s stretchable, pliable, durable and easy to clean. The 360-degree, 4-way stretch of this vinyl makes it easy to pattern and upholster with as well. Even though the fabric is easy to stretch, it’s still a good idea to have at least one other person to help you pull the vinyl snugly while stapling it in place.

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Brian lends a helping hand as Matt G. staples the vinyl in place

When upholstering with vinyl, it’s a good idea to use staples with a 1/2” crown. The crown of the staple is the flat part that you see when it’s installed. The 1/2” crown is thicker than traditional staples. Vinyl has a tendency to want to rip through staples so these higher crown staples will hold the vinyl better without ripping.

In this video you will learn how to pattern and sew panels for a contoured seat, pull and staple the vinyl, replace corner patches, and recover a handle bar.

 

Materials List:

You can find all the materials needed to recover your personal watercraft seats at www.sailrite.com.

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Rear seat stitching

Have you ever re-upholstered a PWC seat? Share your tips and advice with us in the comments!

Teresa Carey is making quite a name for herself in the sailing world. She writes a sailing blog, made a documentary film about a sailing adventure, teaches on-board sail training, and speaks about sailing around the country (she even gave a TEDx talk). I recently had the pleasure of talking with her about her new film and the importance of self-reliance on a sailboat.

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Teresa & Ben

Teresa started sailing when she was just eight-years-old, on her family’s Ranger23 on Lake Michigan. But before she even set out on the water, she was already enchanted with sailing from bedtime stories her dad would tell.

“My dad would tuck us into bed and tell us stories of sailing or teach us a new term. So I had sailing adventures in my bed,” she reminisced.

By the time she was 18, Teresa started sailing professionally, first as a camp counselor and later with Outward Bound and in the tourism industry. After sailing solo for a time and then in convoy with her now husband, Ben, Teresa was looking for a new adventure and new waters to sail.

“Ben and I had both sailed the entire eastern seaboard, and I’ve sailed the Pacific coast and the Caribbean, and we both agreed that the further north you go, the better it gets,” she said. “So we decided, let’s go north.”

So the pair pulled out a map and took a look at what was north of the Eastern United States and decided on Newfoundland, Canada as their destination. They asked a friend if they could borrow his charts for their planning and among them, they found a photo of his boat with an iceberg, Teresa said. She and Ben wondered if they too would see icebergs on their journey.

“Then it became a mission,” Teresa said.

They decided to film their trip to see an iceberg as a series of short web videos, but when word of their plan got around, they soon received an offer to work on an even bigger project. A film producer out of Florida, Derek Rowe, had heard about Teresa and Ben’s project and called them to ask if they would be willing to make a feature length film with him. Ben and Teresa agreed, leading them to create their documentary, One Simple Question, which will premiere at the BLUE Ocean Film Fest this November in St. Petersberg, Florida.

“In the end it was ten times more work than we expected and four times more money,” Teresa said.

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s/v Elizabeth with an iceberg

But all their hard work paid off and the film was named a finalist in the emerging filmmaker category and received honorable mention in another category.

“It was an honor to even be selected for the festival, so then to be a finalist and even honorable mention is really quite an honor,” Teresa said.

Teresa and Ben are also currently in talks with a public television station to create a TV edit of their film.

One Simple Question is not only about seeing an iceberg, but it also deals with the trials of living aboard a sailboat and the importance of self-reliance. In a scene discussing self-reliance you’ll even see the Ultrafeed Sewing Machine make a cameo appearance.

“One of the characters says something like, ‘there’s no substitute for self-reliance,’ and it shows a series of scenes including the sewing machine,” Teresa explained. “It’s set up in the salon and the scene ends with the new dodger being installed.”

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s/v Elizabeth with her heart-window dodger

The new dodger is actually a dodger that Teresa sewed herself for their Bristol Channel Cutter 28, Elizabeth. You might recognize it by the heart shaped windows that Teresa customized herself. Her photo of the project the grand prize in our photo contest this year.

Elizabeth is Ben’s sailboat and knowing that Teresa already knew how to sew, he did a little bribing to get her to sew him a new dodger.

“He told me, ‘I’ll buy you a Sailrite sewing machine if you sew me a dodger,’” She said. “So I said, ‘Okay!’ But, of course, we didn’t stop there and made new cushions too. Now he’s learning to sew as well.”

She wanted to put her own stamp on the dodger kit, so she added the heart shaped windows by cutting out a cardboard heart and tracing it on to the glass. This was her first dodger project and Teresa said that the Sailrite videos helped her a lot in construction.

Her next project is going to be another dodger for her new sailboat that she’s ready to start “just as soon as it’s too cold to sail anymore,” she said.

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Teresa patterning her dodger

“The great thing about sewing—like carpentry—is if you want to redecorate or you need something, you can make it. Any time I need something I can stitch it together,” Teresa said. She even sewed herself shelves once.

Teresa does all her sewing on a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine, and she’s been impressed with how well it’s held up over time.

“Mine is a few years old now. I use it in spurts and I take care of it—I oil it and everything—and it still worlds like it’s brand new,” she said. “I really like it.”

Like Teresa, most sailors are DIYers and tackle projects on their own, she said. Her advice for DIY sailors is to make sure you find reliable advice for projects that you undertake so you keep everything up to safety standards on your boat.

“Your boat needs to be a safety vessel,” she said. “We looked at 50 different boats and we’d look in lockers and see things that are standard in home repair but not on a boat and that can be unsafe. You need to go to the experts and find out the highest level of safety.”

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Sewing the dodger on her Ultrafeed LSZ-1

Teresa believes that self-reliance is key to all sailors.

“I think self-reliance doesn’t mean having all the skills, it’s about having the resourcefulness and the tools to learn how to do it,” she said.

In fact, her love of sailing is tied to the idea of self-reliance and pushing your own limits.

“I love discovering something new about my own abilities and potential,” Teresa said. “Sailing is always an adventure.”

______________________________________________________________________________

Teresa and Ben are wrapping up their season of on-board sail training in Maine and are planning to spend the winter on land working on their multimedia marketing business until the spring when they will head back to the water to deliver boats.

To learn more about One Simple Question, and to watch the trailer visit simplequestionmovie.com. Follow Teresa at her blog: Sailing Simplicity & The Pursuit of Happiness. If you’re interested in sail training with Teresa and Ben, visit morsealpha.com.

2014_September-Snap-Tools

Our top 3 professional fastener installation tools

If you’re working on a project that involves installing a lot of snap fasteners, you might want to invest in a high quality snap fastener installation tool. Professional grade installation tools make installing snaps so quick and easy that you’ll be glad you made the purchase. There are many different snap fastener tools on the market so choosing which one is right for you can sometimes be challenging. Today we’re going to break down the different strengths of three popular snap installation tools; the SnapRite® System, the Pres-n-Snap Tool, and the DOT® Snapmaster Hand Press.

The SnapRite System

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The SnapRite System Complete Kit

The SnapRite System was created by Sailrite owner Matt Grant and it uses a unique set of 4 dies that work with a standard rivet gun to set button, socket, stud and eyelet snap fastener components in one step. This system also installs Pull-the-Dot components and gypsy studs without requiring special dies, but it can be expanded with the purchase of 2 additional dies to install studs to hard surfaces and twist lock fasteners.

The SnapRite is a lightweight and portable tool (all the dies will fit in one small pouch!). It’s great for installing snaps on covers because the dies work as a positioning tool to help you place snaps on your canvas exactly where you need them, so you get a super snug cover. The SnapRite also has no throat restriction on the tool, so you can place snaps anywhere on fabric, even in the middle of a large boat cover.

Drawbacks to the SnapRite System are that it requires the use of SnapRite Mandrels for setting snaps and must also be used with special SnapRite buttons and gypsy studs that have a hole in the center to accommodate the mandrel.

Great SnapRite Features:

  • • Sets in one step without pre-punching a hole
  • • Conveniently portable
  • • Allows for perfect positioning without tool restrictions
  • • Works with any standard rivet tool
  • • Installs DOT snap fasteners, Pull-The-Dot, gypsy studs and more

The Pres-N-Snap Tool

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Pres-N-Snap Installation Tool with included dies

The Pres-N-Snap Tool is a professional grade tool that allows you to set snaps with just a one-handed squeeze. This tool uses dies that work in pairs to install snaps in one step. The dies snap into the Pres-N-Snap so they won’t get lost during installation and include gaskets that keep the snap components securely in place. The tool itself comes with six dies to install standard snap fasteners (buttons, sockets, studs and eyelets) and #1 plain grommets. It is the only snap fastener installation tool that also install grommets and that can be mounted on a tool bench (with the addition of the Bench Mount).

To further expand usefulness of this tool, additional dies can be purchased to install Pull-the-Dot sockets, gypsy studs, and spur and plain grommets.

The drawbacks to this tool are that adding extra dies can get expensive and that the throat of the tool restricts where you can install snaps on the fabric.

Great Pres-N-Snap Features:

  • • One-handed installation
  • • Punches holes and installs snaps in one step
  • • Conveniently portable
  • • Can be bench mounted
  • • Installs DOT snap fasteners, Pull-The-Dot, gypsy studs, and grommets

DOT® Snapmaster Hand Press

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DOT Snapmaster Hand Press

This tool is great for the professional who installs a lot of snaps and fasteners. The Snapmaster Hand Press is a lightweight and portable, professional grade tool that installs all the most common marine fasteners on the market. It has a comfortable grip and an adjustable lower die. This tools also offers the flexibility of interchangeable upper and lower die seats, so there’s no wrong way to install the dies.

The Snapmaster uses dies that pair together to install standard snap fasteners (buttons, sockets, studs and eyelets) as well as Pull-The-Dot, Common Sense, and Lift-The-Dot fastener components. Installing Common Sense eyelets and Lift-The-Dot sockets requires using a pair of cutting punches and then a pair of setting dies.

All of the dies are sold separately from this tool, which is really its biggest drawback. While the Snapmaster does a great job setting snaps, the cost of the tool and all of the individual dies can really add up. Like the Pres-N-Snap, you are also somewhat restricted by the tool’s throat.

Great Snapmaster Hand Press Features:

  • • Aluminum/Steel Construction
  • • Heavy-duty toggle link mechanism
  • • Adjustable lower die and dual bushing system
  • • Extended throat depth
  • • Punches and dies interchangeable in upper and lower die seats
  • • Installs DOT snap fasteners, Pull-The-Dot, Common Sense, and Lift-The-Dot fasteners

To see a comparison chart that further breaks down the features and installation capabilities of each of these tools view our Snap Fastener Tool and Components Guide.

All of these professional snap fastener installation tools are available at www.sailrite.com.

Which of these fasteners is your go-to tool? Why do you love it? Share your opinions with us in the comments!

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