Ahoy, shipmates! The Sail Doctor, your Small Craft Advisor man of the cloth, here to give you the lowdown on a new cool canvas tool.
At first, I thought Sailrite VP, Matt Grant’s creation, the SnapRite System for installing snap fasteners was maybe just one more ho hum improvement on a nautical mouse trap. But, turns out his idea is the cat’s meow!
For me, as a sailmaker/sailor, there’ve been bolts of projects that used snap fasteners: sail and boat covers, storage bags and pockets; anything where separate canvas pieces must be opened and closed…. or attached and detached from a hard surface. But, the installation of those studs, sockets and buttons was always one royal pain in the stern!
Heretofore, there’ve been three installation systems available: mallet and dies, crimper and dies or, alternatively, vise-grips and dies. Each system required pre-punched holes in the fabric, was difficult to align, iffy to crimp and slow as sailing a bale of hay to weather.
Sailrite’s snap tackle makes dandy use of a common pop rivet tool and has none of the fore mentioned problems.
How’s it Work?
The pop rivet tool is not used with the usual pop rivets, The fasteners’ components are riveted together with the stud part of the fastener; neatly smushed over by the compressing action of the rivet tool which incrementally grips and pulls a finishing nail-like mandrel. The mandrell is inserted through the fastener parts and also aligns the components.
And that, me hearties, is why the SnapRite button portion of the snap fasteners, unlike conventional buttons, has a hole in it, for the mandrel! The socket and stud components from other suppliers already have a hole through which the SnapRite mandrel will pass. The pointed mandrel is poked through the fabric. That action pre-punches a hole and facilitates alignment of button and stud. So, no scalloping or shortfall between consecutive snaps!
The Big Test
Time to check the new system out! I rounded up some dockside riffraff and, in a rather scattered experiment, without hardly a glance at the instructions (much as you might attempt yourself), proceeded to install a snap fastener.
In spite of us, things went well; thanks to the color coding on the dies. In fact, it was a snap! However, we did notice right off how essential it is to have the SnapRite holey buttons, and that thick or stiff fabric might require a little advance hole poking with a sharp awl.
Fid out your ears holes, matey! You can get the grand skinny on all this, and especially a coupla persuasive videos at: http://www.sailrite.com/Sailrite-SnapRite-System-Complete-Kit
I’ll just give ya the big number; however, you can figger on saving a lot if you already have a rivet tool, just wanna do canvas-to-canvas fastening, or only need a few fasteners. Anyway, for under a coupla Ben Franklins you can purchase all the dies needed, a rivet tool, a case, mucho mandrels and enough fasteners to put snaps all over your boat.
In the wake of all this snap happy enthusiasm is there any turbulence? Not really, as long as ya got the do-re-mi and Sailrite keeps making their holey buttons. A pro would consider whether the cost of the special buttons was sufficiently offset by the increased efficiency and quality of the operation.
I suggest a nice sail cover (See The Sailmaker’s Apprentice, pg. 424 for the recipe) or a tool pouch, like the one in the SnapRite video, for starter projects. Then, use Sailrite’s snap tackle an’ pop those fasteners right on in!
(Photos from Sailrite)