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Hardware & Tools

2015_May-Gypsy-Stud-3

Most people are familiar with regular snaps; buttons, sockets and studs, but we get a lot of questions surrounding the gypsy stud. As sort of a hybrid of snaps, it can be less intuitive to figure out how to use this snap, but once you do, we think you’ll find it very handy around your boat.

A standard snap set up features a button riveted to a socket, which snaps into either a screw stud or a stud riveted to fabric with an eyelet. A gypsy stud is often called a “double stud” because it is used to attach two or more fabrics to a single stud.

The gypsy stud is the connector portion with a stud on the top and a rivet on the bottom that can be attached to a socket. So, a button and socket assembly can snap into the top of the gypsy stud, and it’s socket bottom can, in turn, snap on to another stud.

Here’s a diagram that shows how gypsy studs fit in to an application.

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These studs are great for spots on enclosures where side curtains join each other and need to share a stud or where the side curtain meets the dodger. They can also be used for adding bug screens to your enclosure curtains without drilling more snaps into your boat, for making an overlapping table skirt, or for adding a removable door panel to a boat cover.

Gypsy studs can be installed with a regular snap fastener installation tool, but you have to be very careful when installing it that you don’t damage the rivet portion of the stud. Easier options for installation are to use the SnapRite® System or the Pres-N-Snap tool. To use the SnapRite System you will have to buy the proprietary SnapRite® Gypsy Studs which have a hole through the center, but then the installation can be done with the basic SnapRite Dies. For installation with the Pres-N-Snap tool, you will need to have the Pres-N-Step Stud to Gypsy Dye.

You can find all of these snap components and installation tools at Sailrite.com.

Do you have a great application for gypsy studs? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments.

2015_May_Track-2

Brian installing Flex-a-Rail Awning Track to the radar arch of our powerboat

Awning track is a great way to attach fabric to a hard surface on your boat. It can be used for adding enclosure curtains to hardtop biminis, attaching the front of dodgers or for hanging awnings. Many of these applications require the awning track to be able to bend and curve. Today, we’re going to show you how to bend awning track for your application and how to install it.

For our powerboat, we needed to add awning track to the aft side of the radar arch to attach the enclosure’s aft curtain. We decided to use awning track as opposed to snaps, because the track gives a smooth, finished look and is watertight.

We used Flex-a-Rail awning track for this application. Since this awning track is already created to take a slight bend, it makes it easier to create a sharper curve with it as well. As you’ll see in the video, we used a heat gun to make the awning track extra flexible so we can bend it into our desired shape. Be sure you’re ready to act quickly when the awning track is heated, because it will harden again as it cools.

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Heating the Flex-a-Rail to create a bend

For the full list of materials and the full tutorial video, visit Sailrite.com.

Have you used awning track on your boat? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

Installing snaps, fasteners and grommets can be a tedious task. Which is why it can be disheartening when one of your fasteners fails and rips out. Today in this second part of our canvas repair series, we’re going to discuss how to replace failed grommets and snaps. If you missed the first post in our canvas repair series, check it out to learn about patching rips and tears.

Repairing Ripped Out Snaps

Often, when a snap rips out of the canvas it’s installed in, it wasn’t set securely enough to begin with. When setting snaps make sure that they don’t spin in the canvas. If you think your snaps might be in danger of ripping out, a good preventative measure is to tighten them, by re-crimping the rivet. This is especially easy with the Pres-N-Snap Tool. If your snap tears out completely, sew a small patch of canvas over both the inside and outside of the cover over the tear. Then re-install the snap.

Fixing Grommet Troubles

If you have a rip caused by a grommet that pulled out you can repair the fabric and replace the grommet to fix it up. If your fabric is starting to rip around a grommet that’s failing, you should cut out the grommet and the fabric and repair the whole area. Installing a new grommet in ripping fabric will be a waste of a grommet. To repair where the grommet was, you’ll need to recreate the thickness of fabric and sew in an appropriate patch. A good hold for a grommet should be at least 3 layers of fabric. Then you can install a new grommet.


Find new snap fasteners and grommets and everything else you need to repair your canvas at www.sailrite.com. Be sure to check back next week for the third and final installment of our canvas repair series! Have you had snap and grommet troubles before? How did you fix them? Share your stories in the comments.

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_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 and the Pres-n-Snap Tool

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

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

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

So many projects, from boat covers to pillows and everything in between, use zippers. When it comes time to select a zipper for those projects, however, all of the options and variations of zippers can be overwhelming. We answer a lot of questions about the different types, sizes and styles of zippers, so to help shed some light on the subject, we’re going to compare and contrast the options so you know exactly how to select the perfect zipper for your next project.

Zipper Size

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Let’s start off with zipper sizes. Zippers are sized with a number designation (e.g. #5, #10). These numbers are based on the width of the zipper teeth in millimeters when the zipper is closed. So a #5 zipper’s teeth measure around 5 mm across, a #10’s teeth measure around 10 mm and so on. This makes selecting a size easy, because the bigger the size, the larger the zipper teeth will be. Sailrite stocks zippers in sizes #4.5 for home décor projects like cushions and pillows, #5 for medium-sized projects like larger cushions and bags, and #10 zippers for large projects like sail packs, boat enclosures and tents.

Coil vs. Vislon

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One way to narrow down your zipper selection is by the type of tooth on the zipper. There are two main types: coil and Vislon. Vislon is the most common marine zipper, and it features teeth made from Delrin plastic that are molded onto the zipper tape. This construction makes them strong and practically weatherproof. Vislon zippers come in sizes #5 and #10.

Coil zippers feature plastic teeth that, as the name implies, look coiled. The teeth are sewn on to the side tape with polyester thread. Coil zipper teeth are stronger and more flexible than Vislon zippers, making coil a great choice for curved applications like a smile window on an enclosure. However, because the teeth are sewn on, they don’t last as long in the sun as Vislon zippers do. Coil zippers are available in #4.5, #5, and #10 sizes.

Continuous vs. Finished

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Continuous and finished are terms that refer to the length and style of the zipper as a whole. Finished zippers are sometimes also called ‘jacket zippers’ because they are most commonly used on coats and jackets. Finished zippers feature a starter box and pin at one end of the zipper tape and stops at the other end. These zippers also come with sliders included. Finished zippers are used for applications where you want the sides of the zipper to separate completely like on a coat, a genoa sleeve, or the side panels of a cockpit enclosure.

A continuous zipper is a little different. These zippers do not have a beginning or an end point (no starter box or zipper stops). Continuous zippers are usually sewn into a project at both ends like on a bag, tent or cushion. These zippers do not come with sliders, so you will have to purchase one separately and add it to the zipper chain. If one or both ends of your continuous zipper isn’t sewn shut, you can add zipper stops to the chain to keep the slider from falling off the end of the chain.

Locking vs. Non-Locking

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The terms ‘locking’ and ‘non-locking’ refer to the zipper sliders. Locking zipper sliders have a small lock mechanism in them that keeps the slider in place unless the slider’s tab is pulled. This prevents the slider from moving on its own if the tape is forced apart or if the center of the slider is pushed.

Non-locking sliders, on the other hand, allow the zipper to separate by pulling on any part of the zipper slider or even by pulling the zipper teeth apart. This is useful for an application where you would want to be able to quickly separate the zipper, like on a genoa sleeve.

Locking and non-locking zippers are available for both coil and Vislon zipper teeth. When selecting a slider, be sure you choose a slider that is compatible for your zipper chain in both size and type. For example, a #5 Vislon zipper will need a #5 Vislon Slider, and so on. Then you can select the slider material (plastic or metal) and locking or non-locking.

Ready to shop for your zippers? Browse our large selection of YKK® zippers at www.sailrite.com. Need a waterproof zipper? YKK® AquaGuard® Water Repellent Zippers are coil zippers with a polyurethane coating to keep water out.

Do you have any more questions about zippers? Share your questions and concerns in the comments. Your question might be answered in another blog post!

Have you ever thought of using awning track on your boat? This tough track is used to attach fabric to a hard surface and can be used to secure covers, awnings, enclosure panels and even the front of dodgers. Awning track creates a snug and secure attachment, with a sleeker look than snaps. Several of these common uses require the awning track to have a bit of a bend, and some awning tracks will accommodate that better than others. Let’s take a look at the most bendable awning track, some tricks of the trade and how to make awning track work for your boat.

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PVC awning track end (left) and with slits cut in flange (right)

The traditional and most common type of awning track features a groove for the awning rope to feed into with a flange for securing to the hard surface. This type of track is available in aluminum or PVC. The traditional style of awning track has very little give, since it was not designed to bend. You can secure it around a gradual curve by cutting slits in the flange. Using a hacksaw carefully saw slits in the flange of the awning track. If you want to bend the track away from the flange, slits are fine. To bend the track towards the flange, cut in a V-shape.

For a more versatile curving awning track, try Flex-a-Rail. This track was made specifically to bend and can curve in any direction. It will even turn a corner with a radius as small as 10 inches. If the Flex-a-Rail seems stiff at first and you need it to curve more, boil a pot of water and hold the track in the steam coming off the water. You can also use a hairdryer or other hot air blower to heat Flex-a-Rail and traditional PVC track to increase the curve. The heat will loosen up the plastic and give you more flexibility. However, once the track cools, it will harden in the shape you’ve bent it in. So be sure you have it shaped just right!

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Flex-a-Rail Track

Since the Flex-a-Rail doesn’t have a flange, it is secured to hard surfaces with special screws that install in the groove of the track but sit under the rope. To install, bend the track in place where you want it, and drill a pilot hole through the track and into the installation surface. Then use a square-headed screwdriver to drive the screws into the surface.

You can find both of these types of awning track, awning rope, and great marine fabrics at www.sailrite.com.

Do you use awning track on your boat? Are you thinking of using it? Share your experiences and opinions with us in the comments!

Hook and loop, commonly referred to as Velcro®, is a ubiquitous fastener for a wide variety of applications. But did you know that hook and loop is a relatively recent invention? Or that it can be used underwater? These are just a few of the interesting things we’ll explore in this post that takes a deeper look at hook and loop.

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How Hook & Loop Works

Hook and loop fasteners are made up of two components; the first has tiny hooks and the second has even smaller, fuzzy loops. When the parts are pressed together, the hooks catch in the loops and the pieces are temporarily bound together. They can be separated by pulling them apart. As the hooks are pulled from the loop they make a distinctive ripping sound. Most hook and loop can be opened and closed around 8,000 times before it begins to lose holding strength.

A Bit of Hook & Loop History

Hook and loop was conceived in 1941 by a Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, who was inspired by the burrs that stuck to him and his dog after going on a walk through the woods. De Mestral looked at the burrs under a microscope and discovered that they have tiny hooks that fasten to anything with a loop, like clothing and hair. He saw a possibility for two materials with similar features to have a practical use and began working to make his idea a reality.

The process of creating Velcro took de Mestral ten years to perfect. The first design was made of cotton, but it wore out too quickly. That’s when de Mestral turned to a new synthetic material; nylon. Nylon turned out to be the perfect material, especially for the hooks. De Mestral named his new creation Velcro, a combination of the French words “velours” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook). He applied for a patent in 1951 and it was granted in 1955.

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Hook & Loop Today

While the word “Velcro” is commonly used today to refer to any hook and loop style fastener, it is actually a trademarked name for the Velcro Company, which was started by de Mestral in the 1950’s.

Hook and loop today is still most commonly made from nylon, but polyester versions are also available. Polyester offers better UV resistance than nylon when used in outdoor or marine applications. It also holds better underwater. Even on polyester hook and loop, however, the hook is always made of nylon. In a polyester product, the nylon hook is set on a polyester base.

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Pros and Cons of Hook and Loop

Hook and loop is a great fastener for a variety of applications from holding cushions in place, to kids shoes, to keeping objects in place on NASA spaceships. Velcro has great strength, and is low maintenance. But perhaps one of its greatest advantages is the ease of use. Hook and loop are locked together with just a press of the fabric. It is so easy to use it can be operated by a runner mid-stride or by a small child.

Hook and loop fasteners do  have a few drawbacks, though. While Velcro has great bonding strength, the hooks can often catch lint, dirt or other stray particles that can compromise its performance. The hooks can also grab onto other surfaces besides the loops and sometimes create damage to those other materials. Lastly, the noise hook and loop makes when tearing apart is often considered to be a drawback.

How have you used hook and loop? Have you ever used it for a unique project or in an ingenious way? Share your ideas in the comments.

See our great selection of marine hook & loop at www.sailrite.com.

2014_January-Pole

Last week we shared our first power boat project, the How to Make a Power Boat Cover Video, and today we’re going to highlight a piece of that project that you can use if you’re building a new cover or just need extra tension in your existing one—adjustable support poles.

Adjustable support poles are great for keeping your cover taut and preventing water from pooling. Since these poles are adjustable, they can be transferred from cover to cover and boat to boat as needed and always provide a perfect fit.

These poles are installed using one of three different end fitting options: a snap fastener, a stud that fits in a grommet, and a rubber end cap. If you already have a cover for your power boat, it might already have a snap or grommet installed for a pole. If it doesn’t, you can use the rubber end to prop the cover up without any extra work or install your own grommet or snap. And, of course, if you’re making your own cover you can choose between the three!

In this video, we’ll demonstrate how to sew a reinforcing patch in the cover, and how to add a snap and a grommet. As an added bonus, we’ll also show you how to shorten an adjustable support pole if a shorter length is needed.

 

These versatile, adjustable support poles are available at www.sailrite.com.

2013_November-piping

It can be difficult to ship or transport long pieces of tubing. Don’t bother with hauling giant tubes around; you can connect smaller pieces together with splines instead. Joining tubing with splines makes the tubing stronger at the joint and is a simple process. We’re going to show you two different methods for securing the spline tubing.

To connect lengths of tubing with splines, you’ll need a few materials and tools. First, you’ll want to cut some small lengths of pipe, about 6-7 inches, with a diameter slightly smaller than that your main tube. For example, for a 1” main tube you can use 7/8” spline tubes. You’ll also need rivets or adhesive, masking tape, a rivet tool, and a drill.

The first method for joining tubing with splines is to rivet the spline in place. Rivets are recommended for applications that will require a lot of strength, like a dodger or a bimini. We also recommend that you match the material of the rivets with the material of the tubing. For example, when using stainless steel tubing, it’s a good idea to use stainless steel rivets as well for the strongest hold.

Our second method of installing splines in tubing is to use adhesive. We use an extra strong 3M Adhesive Fast Cure 5200. If using adhesive, you should allow the tubing to sit overnight to cure before further installation. Adhesive is a good choice for applications where a protruding rivet is undesirable, like curtain rods or when the tubing must slide past a joint.

Take a look at this video to see step-by-step how each method is done.

 

Find tubing for your next project along with fittings for building dodgers, biminis, awnings and more at www.sailrite.com.

Have you ever used splines to join lengths of tubing? Share your experience and tips in the comments!

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