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Hi YT;


A cleat in this context is a metal or wood object which is used to make fast (belay) a rope from the running rigging, so that whatever is at the other end of the rope will not move.


They come in all sorts of sizes.  Think of something like the top of a longhorn steer's skull with the horns poking out to each side, both in a straight line. 


The rope is passed under the horns, and over the middle, around and around in a figure-of-eight pattern.


They were fixed to the ships' sides, to the masts, or to the shrouds (this latter type are called shroud cleats)


A cleat is also the name for a small timber batten, used to hold something in place.


All the best,


Mark P


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Hi Grandpa,


I guess that very much depends on the scale and period you are building.

wooden cleats can be done in various ways: miling a strip of wood into the outer profile you need, and sawing off cleats in the width you need.

or just forming them one by one froma strip that has the correct width and thickness.


metal cleats, I never did one, but I guess that there are also various ways....


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Hey Grandpa,


This is the best way I know of to make cleats from scratch..

Syren Ship Model Company    ( There are several sizes.  This is one example. )





OK, so not scratch..  But at that price, your time is worth a lot more.


As amateur mentioned, using the example from Syren, you could shape some stock to that profile, then slice of a piece and shape it accordingly.


Metal?  Paint them accordingly and call them metal..😂


Edited by Gregory
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Use a hard dense wood, cut a pattern, define the lines with files, finish with sandpaper up to 400 grit, apply tung oil. I made all the cleats I needed in my previous boat quite easily. Link to that page





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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
3 hours ago, vaddoc said:

Actually, it is nearing the time I will need cleats so I sat down today and did a bit of CAD. Maybe this template will help others. The printer settings can be used to scale up or down. The vertical lines are for through bolts/tree nails.


Thank you very much, I saved a copy.

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  • 2 years later...

Actually the same techniques can be applied to wood, metal, and plastics. I prefer metal or acrylic glass for small parts over wood, as I then don't have to worry about the wood-grain. If you need to have the parts look like wood, it is quite easy to simulate this with paint.


I have, for instance, milled the cleat-shape from a suitable rectangular brass profile and then sliced off individual cleats. If you let a spigot protruding from the foot of the cleat, you have something to hold it in a pin-vice for further shaping operations and, of course, for mounting it later on. The same technique works for acrylic-glass, which is easier to shape, but more brittle than brass.


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