Instructables
Picture of Make a Sun Shade from an Old Sail
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I made this sun shade from an old used sail that I picked up free at a local sail shop last year. I designed it so it could easily be put up or taken down as needed. 
 
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Step 1: Pick a Location

Picture of Pick a Location
The Morning Deck, as we call it, is great in the morning. It is a perfect spot to sit and drink a hot cup of coffee on a cool morning and watch the kids play on the driveway and the swingset.  After noon however, this beautiful spot is beaten within inches of life by the sun, making it unbearable to sit and enjoy for very long. I had seen sunsails for sale in various catalogs and found some online, but none of them really looked fantastic and the best looking were more expensive than I was willing entertain.  My wife had seen a blog where someone made a tote bag out of an old sail that she had picked up for cheap (or free, i can't remember) at her local sailing shop. If they could get an old sail for cheap then why couldn't I? The seed was planted.

Step 2: Get a Sail

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A coworker of mine knew of a good sail shop in town so I gave them a call. I asked if they had any old sails they would be willing to part with and how much they would cost. They asked me what size I was looking for and threw out a couple terms I did not recognize. I told them I was looking for a sail whose long side was 12 feet or so. I'm not sure exactly how big the sail I got was, but it was free and the perfect size for my space. I included a diagram I got from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parts_of_a_sail.svg so you can have some terms on hand for a better communication experience than I had. They were super nice once we were talking about the same thing. I was hoping for a sail with some color or numbers printed on it but no luck, maybe next year.
Waetherman4 months ago

I just did the same thing, using an old sail I bought off eBay as a shade. This instructable gave me a little more confidence that it wasn't a crazy idea, so thanks!

I would add a few comments on the process; first, make sure you're working with a triangular sail - ones that are curved along the leech make it much more difficult to attach.

Second, if you want to make an irregular shape (in my case an irregular quadrangle) cut along the reinforcement seams of the sail, and make sure when you buy the saill has lots of reinforcement seams, since this gives more options for cuts.

If you're working with an irregular shape, it's handy to have a grommet tool, so you can make your own attachment points. The typical $10 grommet kit from a craft store seems to work fine, though I do wish I could find some beefier ones.

Finally, to secure against it luffing in the wind, anchor securely at all corners and use a ratcheting tie down. I used a 1" web strap ratchet typically used to tie down cargo/motorcycles in trucks. They came in a set of 4 for about $20. These give a nice, taut attachment that looks really good too.

foobear3 years ago
really cool!
Are there any concerns about damaging the structure of the house from strong winds?
hiimdavin (author)  plasticbiker3 years ago
It can withstand quite a bit of wind but I take it down if there is any serious weather coming our way. I think the lines would break before any damage could come to the house.
caitlinsdad3 years ago
Nice. I would have stuck a big timber into the side house to make a yardarm or whatever they call that mast part sticking out of the front of a pirate ship. But then you would have to shape the rest of the house like a big ark.