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Making Small Scale Sails or Large Scale Sails or Any Sails Pt. 1

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Chief Don the submarine guy here!


 Subs I use to make a living, however my passion is the age of sail.  Here is a method to make sails for the new folks, for the builders of small stuff, or if you wanna add something special to your sails such as a color logo or symbol (Part 2).


Plastic builders, scratch builders or wood kit builders the sails are often not to scale, horribly made, or are plastic.


I build my own PCB circuits to make my Lighthouses in the bottle flash, the cannons on my ships go boom, and such. One of the materials I use to transfer the circuit layout to copper clad board is called Press N Peel.  You can get this on E-bay for right around $12.  Trust me that will last you a long time.


You will need a laser printer or copier and a PC program such as PAINT. You will need sail cloth (Duh!), Blue tape, a Wood burner or soldering iron with a transfer nib.  You can use a clothing iron in a pinch.  You are also going to need a flat board.


You can use a PC program to make your sail panel lines, reef lines and what ever else you need. You could also hand draw your sail and then scan it to your computer.


When you have your design as you like you will print it on the blue Press N Peel. BE SURE you print on the dull side.


Laser printers use toner, toner is little more than powered plastic. As the powder goes over the paper a laser melts the plastic and fuses it to the paper in the shape of the letters and pictures we type in. (Lot more to it than that but you get the drift.)


Note the border around the image. This is used to place and align the image over the sail cloth. Also when you trim the Image leave and side about 1/2 inch longer than the rest.


Use Blue Painter's Tape (This is a must use. Other tapes have adhesives that melt under heat and will make your life not so much fun.) and stretch and tape the sail cloth to the wood. Don't go nuts just a little stretch.


Now place the image dull side down over the sail cloth. Again with the blue tape, tape along the border printed on the image.  If the image moves while you transfer it will be a big smear.


Okay now this is the art vs science part. I use a wood burning too that has this transfer button. You can get the anywhere for about $30. They come with many nibs that might come in handy.  I sign all my work with a wood burning tip on the wooden base.


If you do not have one a regular iron will work as long as you do not use any of the steam settings.  


I regulate the temperature to a high medium. The top of the Press N Peel is plastic film. If you melt that you will also spoil your work and get the blue all over your tool, and or iron. (Explain that to your Hunny Bunny.)  You can see where I have had a few of those problems.  That is why I cover the work with a plain sheet of paper.  If I have the tool too hot the paper will brown fast. I know to come down on the juice some.


Now go over the image back and forth, up and down, side ways, this way that way every way for about 3 minutes.  Let it cool about 30 seconds.  Remove the cover paper.  Remove one of the pieces of tape over the Press N Peel you left the extra 1/2 inch.  Gently lift.  Look to see in the image has transferred all the lines and detail. f not place the image back down re-tape and go over it some more with the heat and pressure.


When you are done remove the tape trim to shape. You can add bolt ropes, cringles reef lines ans anything else you need.


If anyone is interested let me know and I will do Pt 2. How to add color images to your sails for pennys.


Enjoy shipmates!!














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Based on the photos with the cloth and thumb and the next photo, I am guessing the sample in your photo is less than 100 thread count material.  Have you tried it with finer cloth such as 600 or higher TC or other materials such as Silkspan? 



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