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attaching grommets to sail feet/luff/head


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Hi there:


I've seen grommets represented on the feet, luff and head of sails (mainsails) through which the lashing runs. Can anyone describe/post photos of a technique for attaching these to the sail? The instructions that came with my Mamoli America kit are extremely vague but reference riveting the grommets on....there are some extremely small grommets that come with the kit for this purpose, but I have no idea how to rivet them, nor how really to attach them to the sails....my instinct is to simply fasten them on from the display side only, but I think that ultimately this would look bad.....


Any and all suggestions would be most welcome! Thanks a lot!


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There's a couple of ways of attaching grommets:  a grommet press ($60 - $300) or a pair of grommet pliers ($5) (minimum size 3/32").   Or you can make your own 'press' that uses a hammer, but these usually don't work too well and the $5 pliers are a better option.  What ever you use, these grommets will be too bulky and heavy.


Here's a couple of suggestions for grommets:


Option One: 

Make some very small brass rings from brass wire or saw off ultra thin slices from a brass tube. To stiffen the sail fabric and to keep it from fraying / snagging / twisting, sparingly apply a small dab of CA glue to the location for the grommet.  When the CA glue is dry, drill a hole in the center of the glue spot, just large enough to fit the brass ring.  Then glue the brass ring into the center of the hole in the sail with minimal amount of glue.   


Option Two:

Punch some 'circles' out of gold or brass color paper, not too thick.  (Look for a small hole punches at Michaels.)  Glue one circle to each side of the sail, take your time to get these perfectly matched up.  Here's a trick to getting the two sides perfectly matched:  Poke a hole smack dab in the center of each circle with a pin.  When the first side is dry, put a pin thru the pinhole in the glued on circle and then add the second circle.  Test the alignment, if it looks good, add glue to the second circle and press to sail cloth.  Leave the pin in for a few minutes, until the glue has started to set.  

When the glue is dry, flatten the sail and hold it taught on a piece of soft scrap wood.  Slowly 'drill out' / 'file out' the center of the gold circle.  When done drilling out, touch up the inside of the circle with some gold or brass color paint.

Experiment with glue;  If you have fabric specific glue, that's best.  Elmers, slightly diluted should also work well.  Use CA glue sparingly.  Be sure to press the two circles together snug and flat.


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I have used a formed grommet anvil placed on the bottom with a grommet half in it and a die on the top with the other half of the grommet, all placed on an anvil or hard surface and then whacked with a hammer. You will soon learn how hard to wack the thing, those grommet tools come in different sizes for different size grommets, one size does not fit all. Even if you have a press, if it is a good one, it will require anvils and dies for each size grommet you use. There are some snaps and grommets used mainly for decoration that can be set using a hard surface and a small hammer, that is probably what you have, if you have extra or can obtain extras, practice, not as easy as it looks or sounds to get nice looking and a well set grommet without some practice.

jud :pirate41:

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Thank you all for your comments - very sage advice!! I'll have to give it some consideration - fortunately I do have an excess of fabric so I can try a couple of things to see what works/handles best - I'm definitely not going to spend 300$ for a grommet press!! I think that's a definite.....as for the rest, seems like there's latitude for experimentation. Thanks again and bye for now


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  • 4 years later...

Hi Jim

Welcome to MSW.  It would be very nice if you would post a quick something about yourself on the new member forum here at MSW.

You wrote " Do you (who are you asking) know the name of this (which) racing yacht......?  There is no photo or other identifying item attached to tell us who you are asking or what yacht you are looking at.  Keep in mind this subject is over 4 years old, so might not get noticed as quickly as current posts.

If you are addressing someone specifically and a specific yacht, try a PM to whichever member you wish to contact.

Again, welcome aboard!!


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On 11/13/2020 at 8:39 AM, jim18 said:

 Do you know the name of this racing yacht sail with a relic of an historic hand made grommet (which century) ?

Hard to say without seeing the shape of the whole sail, but just guessing based on what's shown, it's a headsail clew. This handwork would have been common probably from at least the Seventeenth Century on to the present where it is commonly seen on natural fabric sails still made, but rarely, since synthetic sailcloth is far superior to cotton, flax, and the like. Given the strength properties of modern synthetic sailcloth and machine stitching, modern sails are reinforced with patches of sailcloth and woven tape, sometimes with sheet metal plates enclosed, and employ patent grommets that grip the cloth. Grommets are becoming less popular modernly, being replaced by corner rings fastened to the sail with woven tape.


How to Reinstall a Sail's Corner Ring - YouTube
Modern version of a handworked clew:
JOHN DeMONT: Lunenburg County sailmaker keeps tradition alive | Canada |  News | SaltWire
Modern riveted metal plate mainsail headboard:
Semi Full Batten Mainsail - Sailmakers - OEM style mainsail
Edited by Bob Cleek
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