First try at making a paneled sail... - Page 2 - RC Groups
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Mar 20, 2017, 07:14 AM
I describe the step by step process I followed in making my mainsail at:
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Mar 20, 2017, 08:02 AM
Registered User
Sail blocks... Is swedes block still the go to block. a fixed 5* or are there better boards out there

Ive been using a version of the claudio gadget and have been pretty happy but I'm thinking about trying a sail block. have seen the ones on Brighton's boat works but those blocks are a fixed in their bevel angle. I have seen a few sites that show two separate sail blocks with butted up against each other to vary the bevel angle... but with no instruction on how to. it looks like like maybe they use a couple small wedges or spacers to prop the sides up to get the angle. is it really that simple?

Also, any idea on the best naca shape?
Mar 21, 2017, 03:36 AM
Registered User
I have been making sails for my IOM, RM & DF95 for the past year using Ben Morris's method http://www.stirling.saradioyachting....sailmaking.htm. It takes a while to get your head around the system & there is no doubt practice makes perfect. Helps if you have a firm view of the sail shape you are trying to achieve. very pleased with the results so far
Mar 21, 2017, 01:19 PM

Building boards

Could someone explain to me the advantage of a building board compared to my method of cutting "camber moulds" for each sail panel seam.

The "camber mould" is a cross section of the sail at the given panel seam. Its lower edge is the chord and the upper edge the shape of the sail at the given panel.

To define the shape of a "camber mould", I choose its:

- NACA curve,

- chord length,

- maximum draft position

- maximum camber percentage.

I cut a rectangle whose length is the chord length and whose height is the maximum camber percentage.

To cut the shape of the curved upper edge, I mark off 10 - 20 points along the bottom edge (chord). I then calculate the height of the curve at each of the points and mark it on the rectangle. A curved line is drawn connecting the points. It is the curve of the sail. After cutting along the line, I have a physical representation of the cross section shape of the sail. This is what I call a camber mould.

Next, I set up the camber moulds at the seam points along the height of the sail. I then create the sail form by gluing cardboard panels from one camber mould to another. It's then a simple matter of cutting the sail cloth so that the panels overlap by 6 mm. which is the width of my double-sided adhesive tape. The edges are straight. They follow the camber moulds which are straight.

This approach also allows me to easily build twist into the sail at the same time. The details are at:

One disadvantage of this appraoch is that I have to go through the entire process of creating camber moulds for every different sail I fabricate, whereas a building block is reusable. But then again, I only fabricate two sails a year.

Please let me know your critiques of this method.

Incidentally, the major reason that I haven't explored the building board approach is that I work from my Paris apartment. I can't use the woodworking tools there to create a building board. With my approach, I manage with pieces of cardboard, an Xacto knife and a glue gun.
Mar 21, 2017, 01:57 PM
Registered User
Hey lisaby

Your situation is UNIQUE due to your SHOP CONSTRAINTS (working from Paris apartment - limited shop work area or acces and limited tools)

But ... even with the noted limitations ...
Your CURRENT PROCESS & Tools are more than adequate ... there is "NO RIGHT WAY" to make sails ... like everything "There is ALWAYS MORE THAN ONE WAY".

Your full sail mold / build frame does SIMILAR to what a build block does - only difference I can see is ... that your process has INDIVIDUAL BUILD BLOCKS (by each unique frame) for each station / elevation (top/bottom) of sail.

As noted above ...
You have UNIQUE issues n limitations - as well as - only needing to build a few sails per year

Guess I would ask ...
Do you RACE or Build for others ??
Build just for fun n learning ... vs ... flat planet sails ???

Seems to me - in my opinion ....
Your process is JUST ANOTHER WAY to make sails from MANY DIFFERENT METHODS ... if you are getting a sail that works for you - THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS
Mar 21, 2017, 04:57 PM
Thanks slo.ca6 for your encouraging reply.

I sail with a hetergeneous club. No class. No competition.

The biggest boats are IOM's. My goal in sail making is to get my RG65 Pirate to go as fast as them.

In my case, I estimate that sails represent only about 20% of the competitve situation. The other 80% has to do with my sailing skills. I'm an 80 year old beginner. I'm dismayed by how much my learning abilities have diminshed with time. Nevertheless, I'll keep plugging away.
Mar 21, 2017, 06:29 PM
Registered User
Hi lisaby

Glad to offer the encouragement ...

Age aside - which I am also IMPRESSED 80 yr builder as you described ... I am also impressed with your desire to get into sail making this deeply. NOTE: I have enjoyed viewing the photos from you club website - very impressive wide range of fun n serious folks building ... ALL HAVING FUN

I have always wanted to build Mylar sails ... and ... sadly (unknowingly) missed LEARNING FROM Swede Johnson classes offered to his local club memebers - including making your own sail block using his methods described in publication (see earlier forum posting above)

I was working in CA and living out of hotel for extended periods of time (much like yourself - so I fully understand) ... but ... wasn't till after these classes came to my attention - BUT SADLY THIS WAS LAST CLASS Swede Johnson taught ... and beginning of Swede's health decline.

But ... as a side note ...
I was sailing a lot FOR FUN with other local clubs (much like yourself) ... I got so intreagued with scratch built schooners that became all the rage ... so I built a John Alden Malabar VIII schooner (50" long) - built in my hotel room (with exception of fiber glass layer for leak seal covering as well as lead ballast - those were done at club members home garage and KINDNESS TO HELP FELLOW BUILDER) ... hotel staff weren't happy with balsa wood dust from sanding hull

What a GREAT EXPERIENCE scratch building a schooner !! ... there was a fun passing comment to those watching n interested in scratch building a schooner
... that saying was play on words "Schooner or later you will build a schooner"
NOTE: including building sails from scratch and all fittings etc ... so - I have some experience building sails

Use this link to forum post #57
Which has video of schooner in Irvine CA

NOTE: when viewing the video above ... and they get to third person interviewed Malabar VIII - the hull without deck - showing inside planking n frames - is my schooner still under construction (I am wearing shite print shirt n glasses standing behind interview - while others talk about my hull used to illustrate construction techniques)

Due to circumstances - I have wrk n family obligations ... so my sailing days are on hold and all boats in garage storage ... some day will return ... hopefully sooner rather than later ... but I try to stay informed - and when possibly - try to help others like yourself.
Last edited by slo.ca6; Mar 21, 2017 at 06:56 PM.
Mar 21, 2017, 08:21 PM
Registered User
Lisaby. Since you are space constrained. The Claudio tool may the thing for you. I have had success with it. But i think a sail block will provide more consistent results.
Mar 22, 2017, 07:22 AM

Alternatives sources to Swede Johnson on building sail boards.


I think that the one of the best texts on building a sail board is Larry Robinson's two volume spiral bound book "Making Model Yacht Sails". Chapter 3 of vol. 1 is entitled ""Shaping Sail Blocks Precisely". The first two appendices of vol. 2 are entitled "Laying out a headboard" and " The hinged headboard attachment". I've attached vol. 2. The 45 page Vol. 1 is almost impossible to find. If there were a strong demand for it, I could scan it.

In addition, I think that almost everyone is familiar with Ben Morris' "Building Board" article at:


Since the sail board approach is beyond my capacity to fabricate sails in an apartment, I haven't read them in great detail.
Mar 22, 2017, 07:35 AM

Claudio Tool

I know of the Claudio tool. It seems as effective as a sailboard and easier to build and use.

Again, I don't have the capacity to build one in my apartment.

I also realise that using a sail board or the Claudio tool seems to require a certain ability of abstraction. Fabricating panel by panel, one has to be certain (or have faith) that the whole sail will be right.

In my approach, I see the entire sail in the mould I've built. If necessary, I can modify it/start again before cutting cloth. No abstraction needed. It may be better adapted to dumb sail makers like me who are unable to abstract.
Mar 22, 2017, 11:31 AM
Registered User

Appreciate your pointing out Larry Robinson book on sail making noted above - will have to look into that.

As for the Claodio Tool use and"Faith" of the sail shape outcome vs your full sail frame/mold approach ... considering your UNIQUE conditions n work area n tools ... It would seem that your approach is best option - mainly because you get an idea of final sail shape PRIOR to sail assembly (allowing for tweaks n changes). Like you - I too don't have an ability of ABSTRACT VISION to see final sail shape using the other approaches.

All the best and success with you projects ... and ... ESPECIALLY THE FUN OF SAILING !!
Last edited by slo.ca6; Mar 22, 2017 at 11:36 AM.
Mar 22, 2017, 09:23 PM

Malabar VII

I have an acqaintance who built, not a model, but a 1:1 replica of Malabar IV which he considers the best of the Malabar's.

He created his own boatyard to build it.

Now, over 70 years old, he prefers sailing a 22' sloop.

His Malabar IV is for sale, somewhere in the south of France, with no takers.

The 2008 financial crisis really depressed the claassic boat market. I know of a 1930's Six Metre that sold for$7500. Before the crisis, it would have sold for $25 - 30k.

Financially, we're much safer with RG65's
Mar 22, 2017, 10:19 PM
Registered User

That is awesome to know of 1:1 Malabar construction ... having only seen scale schooners. Terrible to hear such de-valuation of these fine classic FULL SIZE yachts GOING SO CHEAPLY ... but ... someone's loss is another person's gain. At least the yachts will be cared for n maintained (not abandoned).

Never saw the specific difference of Malabar IV ... vs ... Malabar VIII / X (which are similar). I do know - that Malabar X in superior to Malabar VIII when built as scale schooners of same size (50" deck now to stern)

Hope you got to view the video clip in my prior forum posting link above ?? Great folks and very helpful n friendly - sadly ... since that video ... several of the folks have pasted away and I have no idea what happened to their personally hand scratch built schooners (even the TV interviewer passed away - at a young age).
Mar 23, 2017, 03:03 PM
Yes, I enjoyed the clip about the schooner.

In France, we have someone who builds and sells a beautiful cuter, called a Youpi.

Mar 23, 2017, 10:20 PM
Registered User
Hello lisaby

Glad you enjoyed the video of the schooners - that was done by a professional PUBLIC BROADCASTING series ... the interviewer (yellow jacket) had a TV series on various California places and events of interest and sightseeing.

I enjoyed the Youpi yacht and their website - especially videos are so peaceful n graceful (a little sensitive to strong wind) ... wish I could read French ... would be interested in reading the construction related text on their website. Especially interested in their deck planking process and related details

Hope you are doing well ...
please keep in contact n forum postings

Ray S.
Irvine CA