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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The sails to my new old boat, of which I have two sets, and which I admit are in poor condition are missing the battens (well, I have 2 in one sail set (one of those is broken in half).

Do I need to buy battens specifically or can I make my own?

If I make my own, will any light, stiff material do as long as I insure that the edges are smoothed & rounded? For instance I was thinking light plexiglass verses wood.

Rich
 

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Rich-

I wouldn't use plexiglass. If the stuff cracks or snaps under the strains of use as a batten, it will quickly shred your sails.
 

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You can make your own battens. I did. I don't know as you'd want to use plexiglass. Plexiglass will break in Very Bad Ways under stress, with sharp, pointy edges, IIRC. You can buy batten material. (Don't know where.) A friend at our sail club gave me a big, long piece of it for one of our sails. A pencil, a small, portable vice, a hacksaw, a flat file and some rigging tape and Bob's your uncle :).

Hint: Better to err on the side of slightly too long than too short. You can always file it down to size. I was told you want the batten mildly difficult to get into the pocket, but not exceedingly so.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I found this when I googled battens material sail.

Article on battens

I had no idea this was such a complicated subject. I think that battens may be a case where as long as it fits good and is the right size I'll get 90-95% of the benefit. I don't think I'm going to worry too much about taper and whether or not it's soft or hard or whatever. I think a trip to Home Depot and Lowe's is in order.

Anything else? Any particular type of wood that is preferred?
 

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I just made some from white oak. I sailed with them last weekend and they seem to be fine. I just pretty much made them fit the pockets; roughly yardstick shaped. Sanded smooth, no finish. White oak puts up with some wetting/drying well. I would not use red oak. I would have considered ash as an alternative.
 

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I have not checked this out personally but was told that sail makers have batten stock, sheets of the stuff in stock.
 

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On a larger boat, fiberglass battens may make more sense, since the weight and stiffness of hardwood battens, compared to extruded fiberglass ones, may not be as appropriate. Many sailmakers will have batten stock for sale.
 

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I see we'll need the extra heavy duty batten stock then. :) If he had his boat type in his sig... it would make things so much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If I knew what my boat was I'd be happy to put it in the sig. Hmmm How about 16' daysailer since that is a nice generic description. Still don't know who made it or what the model is. :)

There, let's see if my new signature comes up. I thought it would immediately be applied to all my past posts, but alas, 'twas not so....
 

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Well done Rich... I'm in the Boston area, so if you want a hand, give me a shout. :)

One of my current projects is refurbing a 1973 O'Day Javelin 14' daysailer. :)
 

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Best batten material I have found is the "unbreakable" yardsticks. Wood yardsticks work too, but the unbreakable ones will not warp or absorb water. I have equipped more than one charter boats with missing battens this way :) But when the sail gets wet you can see the numbers...
 

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Batten material

If you want to use wood your best material is probably Ash or Sitka Spruce. Those two woods have low weight and excellent bending properties for the application. Although a previous poster mentioned White Oak I wouldn't use it simply because it is heavier than the two I mentioned above.
 

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Only works if you need battens a yard in length or shorter.
Best batten material I have found is the "unbreakable" yardsticks. Wood yardsticks work too, but the unbreakable ones will not warp or absorb water. I have equipped more than one charter boats with missing battens this way :) But when the sail gets wet you can see the numbers...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The yard sticks seem like a good idea too, I was concerned that their thickness might be too much.

I stopped in at Home Depot and Lowe's this afternoon and got a few ideas. They had wood panels, birch and oak, which seemed to be either the exact thickness of the sample batten I had or very close to it. Also, I looked at vinal gutters and drain spouts. They seem to have a good thickness, they're light and I don't think they would shatter like others have mentioned plexiglass will. I have a spare vinal gutter and I think I'll take some tin snips to it and see what I can fashion while the search goes on for a better material. I also looked at wood paneling there, the pure wood ones also seem like they might make a good source, especially if coated with shellack.

Rich
 

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While you are at Home Depot check out the window blind section. The venetian blind types are now made of plastic similar to a very thin boat board. They should have just the right stiffness for a small day sailor. Maybe you know a landlord or someone who is throwing out a set you could cut up and experiment with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
How about mahogany wood strips? I was at a wood supply store and they had all these scrap strips of mahogany that were perfectly sized. I got three armfuls of these leftover strips (most of it not suitable for battens) for free.
 

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A note on plastic materials. Acrylic is brittle and will shatter. Plexiglas (Polycarbonate) on the other hand is very flexible in the thinner sizes. I can take a 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 24" piece and darn near bend it in half before it breaks. More so than any wood will perform. And it doesn't warp. The best bet is still fiberglass batten stock. Google it and you will find it.
 

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This would be good advice if it was accurate, BUT IT ISN'T.

Plexiglas, Limacryl, R-Cast,Per-Clax, Perspex, Plazcryl, Acrylex, Acrylite, Acrylplast, Altuglas, Polycast, are all names for various forms of ACRYLIC.

Polycarbonate is something else entirely, and often referred to by the trade name of Lexan.

A note on plastic materials. Acrylic is brittle and will shatter. Plexiglas (Polycarbonate) on the other hand is very flexible in the thinner sizes. I can take a 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 24" piece and darn near bend it in half before it breaks. More so than any wood will perform. And it doesn't warp. The best bet is still fiberglass batten stock. Google it and you will find it.
 

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Mahogany it is then. Keep in mind though that Mahogany is neither Sitka Spruce or Ash which were recommended by previous posters. If Mahogany battens ever split you could end up with some sharp splinters that may catch your sail fabric (I guess the same could be said for the other wood species too, hence, fiberglass is preferred).
My advice would be to finish the Mahogany battens you make with varnish, lacquer, poly; your choice. This way they will slide into the slots in the sail without hurting the sail fabric.
Mahogany is of comparable weight to Spruce and Ash so why not?
Keep in mind that in really light air the battens may actually make the main sail sag along the leech (depending how baggy your sails are) so you may not need them in light air conditions.
 
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