Sails can be made of many material.
- The classical material is a tigtly woven cloth impregnated with a resin to give it better resistance to stretch in the bias.
- The modern racing sails are made of laminate material. Such laminate is essentially a sandwich of film (Polyester or other material) and fibers oriented in various directions in order to provide the necessary strength and stretch resistance. The laminates are often covered with a thin woven cloth to provide durability against abrasion.
- Other material such as Vinyl film with fiber reinforcement such as material for making tarpolin (Polytarp) can be used for experimenting on sails before commiting to a more expensive material.
- For model racing boats the Clear Polyester film (Mylar) used for packing flower bunches is a usefull cheap material. Alternatively some water resistant paper type material can be used for experimenting.
Sail panels assembly is the most delicate part of sail making as any slippage between panels or unevenness of tension during the stiching will be visible on the finished sail. In order to ease this phase it is recommended to glue the panels together with double sided sticky tape before stitching them.
Plotting panels by hand is the most common way of using the output of Sailcut CAD for making sails. To do that requires very little investment. You essentially need a flat plotting surface with a straight edge, a square angle piece and a tape measure. Use metric tape as all dimensions provided by Sailcut CAD are in millimeters.
The hand plotting surface and tools used for making sails are described below.
- The flat surface can be made of hard board, chip board, plywood or compressed wood panels assembled such that the length available is sufficient to lay the largest panel on it. The best is to use panels with a white hard face on which you will work. Alternatively you can use bare panels and paint them white.
- The straight edge on the long side of the panels is provided by a metal corner profile or a flat strip screwed in the panel. This strip of metal should be thick enough (3mm) such that it offers a firm basis for the T piece or square angle piece to slide on. Check that the edge or the metal profile is straight as this will be your baseline for all plotting operations. Along this straight edge it is usefull to fixe a tape measure (metric) with double sided sticky tape. The origin (zero point) should be on the left end of the panel. The measurement along this long edge is the X coordinate.
- The square angle piece or T piece can be cut in 5mm plywood or Plexiglass. The long side of the square angle shall be wider than the cloth and the base edge about half of the long side.The two sides shall be cut at exactly at 90 degrees. The short edge will slide on the strip edge discribed above. A tape measure along the long edge of the square angle give the Y coordinate and its zero is at the profile fixed on long edge of the panel.