Sailmaker

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Practical or MechanicalSkill Level 1Skill Level 2

A sailmaker makes and repairs sails for sailboats, kites, hang gliders, wind art, architectural sails, or other structures using sails. A sailmaker typically works on shore in a sail loft. The sail loft has other sailmakers. Large ocean-going sailing ships often had sailmakers in the crew. The sailmaker Decline maintained and repaired sails. This required knowledge of the sailmaker's craft and the tools of the sailmakers loft on shore.

Today, one of a sailmaker's important jobs is to teach people how to set and trim their sails to get the most out of them. Sometimes a sailmaker will accompany the client out on the water and adjust the sails. The modern sailmaker uses computer-aided design and manufacturing tools. Computer graphics allow the sailmaker to produce a "lines drawing" of the sail. Once the design is complete, the sailmaker can now use a low-power laser to cut the material to the exact shape.

ANZSCO ID: 393113

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • enjoy practical and manual work

  • good hand-eye coordination

  • good concentration

  • knowledge and understanding of mathematics.

Duties and Tasks

Sailmakers may perform the following tasks: Running Repairs

  • consult with customers to establish design specifications

  • produce patterns according to the specifications of technical drawings and designs

  • select, measure and mark out material

  • cut material to shape with shears or power cutters

  • set up and maintain industrial sewing machines

  • sew pieces of fabric together by hand or using light or industrial sewing machines

  • hem articles, inserting rope if required, and attach eyelets, grommets, zippers, buckles, straps and other fasteners

  • attach ropes to products using hand tools

  • treat material for water and rot proofing

  • operate high frequency and hot air welding equipment if handling PVC material

  • make and repair sails for yachts from canvas and synthetic materials. Mending a Sail

Tools and technologies

  • Fid, used to stretch grommets before inserting reinforcement

  • Sail palm, an oversized thimble used to drive needles through heavy canvas

  • Beeswax, used on thread

  • Benchook, to provide a "third hand" to hold sailcloth taut

  • Seam rubber, to press folds in to fabric

  • Sailmaker's needles

  • Sewing machine.


Did You Know?

Sailmakers lay out, cut, assemble and repair sails that are today predominately made from high tech textiles, such as carbon fibre, Zylon and Vectran, and by a lamination process where woven cloth is sandwiched between two films of Mylar and then baked under pressure. There is a very small market for older synthetic fabrics such as Dacron and natural ones such as canvas.

Not only have sailmaking fabrics changed, so too have many of the processes e.g. in some lofts sailmakers model sails using computer aided design (CAD) which feeds directly to laser cutters which cut the sail panels from rolls of sail cloth, replacing the traditional hand-held scissor method.

Once the panels are sewn together, the sailmakers complete the sail by attaching elements such as the leech and foot lines, protective patches in the areas where the sail will scrape against hardware (stanchions, spreaders), steel rings and straps at the tack and clew, cleats, batten pockets (if required) and sail numbers.


(Source: Starting Out)

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