Who is making model sails and how? - RC Groups
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Mar 22, 2012, 12:46 PM

Who is making model sails and how?

I am back to having to make model sails in 1/24 scale and wonder what "you-all" are doing making sails for your models.
In the past I have bought "rip-stop" nylon. I would draw the finished shape and size on the cloth in ink and then add about three quarters of an inch all around to allow me to fold over the edges two times. Then I would spot glue those edges and sew them on a sewing machine. The next step was to mark in ink the positions of the to-be-installed groments, then "burn" those spots with a soldering iron making the holes just big enough for little brass gromets. Next I inserted the gromets and "flattened" them with the proper little tool.
So how do you youmg fellows do it now??? Thanks.
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Mar 24, 2012, 08:47 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar

Look in the Constellation, SC&H brig, or Royal George and "Search this Thread" fro Supplex - you find more than you're looking for.
Mar 24, 2012, 10:23 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Hi George, I thought you had a thread on this topic already, did it get eaten by the server monster?

Tyvek works great for me, I can give you details if my original answer has been lost
My apologies to George! I confused his request with one over on modelmayhem.

Some information on Tyvek sails here:

Last edited by Brooks; Mar 24, 2012 at 06:49 PM.
Apr 20, 2012, 01:29 PM

Where do you get tyvek sheets

I am working on the first of a series of 4 sailing ships for the grandchildren. Each hull will be about 3 feet long. The fore and main sails sails on the schooner will be about 1 foot by 2 feet, And on the brig about 0ne foot or a little more by 6 to 8 inches. So where can I get tyvek about one to two foot wide and x feet long? And what do you use to make the "hem" along the edges?
(Currently I am using thin nylon cloth and glueing the "hems" then burning the holes for 1/8th inch brass grommets.)
Apr 20, 2012, 05:51 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Sources of Tyvek:
a) left over Tyvek house wrap from a construction site (my favorite because you can usually find big chunks of white between the Dupont advertising writing),
b) envelopes from the Post Office (probably going to be colored on one side),
c)white envelopes from an office supply store. Some Kite stores used to sell Tyvek, I've heard.
Tyvek does not unravel, so needs no hemming. It's actually a felt of plastic fibers that are heat-fused together, I think.

I reinforce sail corners with 1 or 2 layers of clear tape (like tableing on a cloth sail, bigger piece of tape applied first, then a smaller piece of tape on top of that). Scotch "Crystal Clear" tape works fine, or use a clear packing tape for cardboard boxes.

Lay the sail on a cutting surface (aft side up, if a square sail), run a length of tape across the corner, then trim excess tape away from the sail. An old magazine works well for the cutting surface since you can just discard the cut-up pages when you're done. If you have worries about ink on the magazine staining the sail, put a piece of white typing paper on top of the magazine then lay on the sail. You want a discardable surface because of the excess tape left behind after trimming (unless you enjoy peeling off the zillion bits of tape from your cutting surface :-).

A 6" steel rule helps guide the X-acto knife blade for a neat trim line. If the rule is on the sail, it will prevent a wandering blade from cutting into the sail itself. With practice, I can find the edge of the sail with the knife, dragging across the magazine until flat of blade hits the edge of the Tyvek, lay down the rule (pivoting it against the blade until the rule lines up with the sail edge), then slice off the excess tape.

I usually then cut off a little bit of the triangle of tabled sail to get it out of the way of rigging thread. Cotton-wrapped polyester carpet thread has worked for my 1, 2, and 3' hull ships. Be sure to purchase the cotton-wrapped poly if you want knots to hold w/o a tiny drop of CA; CA is fine for cotton-wrapped too, if you wish. Pure poly thread is a pain to knot due to slippery-ness and stiffness. A large needle will poke a hole in the tabling for the rigging thread. Support the sail corner on styrofoam or foamcore board before trying to poke. Otherwise, the needle will drag the sail down into the underlying hole, creasing the corner. Stick the thread though the needle hole, then tie your loop with a small dowel in place. Tying the thread around a small removable dowel keeps the loop from collapsing and pinching the sail corner.

Marker pen ink will bleed on Tyvek, so pre-test any writing implements before letting your grandkids draw on the sails. The already colored Post Office Tyvek may be desired by the kids, using different colors or patterns to help them tell their boat from their sibling's boats.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by Brooks; Apr 20, 2012 at 06:12 PM.
Apr 20, 2012, 06:31 PM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
House wrap Tyvek will have a curve in it since it came off a big roll. Consider the curve as you lay out your sails. For square sails, you want the curve to be forward, assisting in making the sail into an airfoil when on the yard. For fore&aft sails, the curve should be vertically aligned; one tack will have a great airfoil pre-made, the other tack will need the wind to puff an airfoil into the sail.

I've never had any luck removing all the curve. Gentle bending over a curved edge of a counter top will remove some of the curve, which is helpful for f&a sails. But if you get too rambuctious with your removal, you'll put creases in the Tyvek, which can't be removed, at least I can't. Don't bend over a sharp edge, eg. a door, as this will put in a series of creases, making a corrugated sail.

Likewise, pencil lines can't be erased w/o damaging the felt. Draw lightly, both to keep from having to erase lines, and to avoid creasing the edge of the sail.
A larger sail can be made by taping together the edges of 2 pieces of Tyvek. Sailmakers tape is nice: it's thin, consisting mainly (entirely?) of stickem. Model sailboat vendor is where I got my roll of tape, can't remember the vendor's name, sorry. I used it to put draft into an iceboat sail, worked very well.
Last edited by Brooks; Apr 20, 2012 at 06:41 PM.
May 01, 2012, 09:20 AM
Thanks, this is all very helpful. I will be ab;e to get on with this in a month or three. Meanwhile I experimented with nylon kite material. In the past I sewed the "hem" around the edges but got lazy and instead glued the "hem" with duco cement and then punched holes in the "hem" and inserted small brass grommets. It is a little messy and the sma;; grommets are pretty frustrating with a lot of wastage.
May 01, 2012, 09:26 AM
SCALE Sailor
JerryTodd's Avatar
George, what's happened to your Prince? It came with Supplex for the sails didn't it?

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