Picture of Patch a Wetsuit
Here's how to patch a wetsuit.

A friend gave me this nice orange survival suit.
A coastguard station near her house threw it out because a mouse gnawed a hole in it.
They wrote "Condemned" on it which makes it extra stylish.

Here's the hole in the ankle of the suit.

I guess I'm supposed to buy eggs.
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Step 1: Clean the Wound

Picture of Clean the Wound
Pick which side the patch will go on.

Cut that top surface away with the cloth layer (if any) away so it tapers down to the hole.

Here I'm using the scissors on the "instructables" leatherman ewilhelm laser-etched for me.

Wetsuits are made of neoprene rubber foam. The little bubbles in the rubber foam make it a good insulator. The bubbles are not connected to each other so it doesn't soak up water.
Old-style wetsuit material like this has thin knitted nylon cloth laminated on both sides.
It's a lot more durable than the newer suits with cloth on one or neither side.
It's also heavier, less elastic, and less warm because the outside cloth stays wet when you
get out of the water, and then your body heat has to evaporate this water.
Modern suits are a compromise between durability, elasticity, and warmth.

Most of the world's wetsuit material comes from a single factory in Thailand.

Step 2: Wound is Properly Cleaned Up

Picture of Wound is Properly Cleaned Up
You'll have plenty of surface area to make the patch stick.
The tapering means you won't get stress concentrations for rips to start.

Isn't it great being a nerd?
jbazan12 years ago
Good show gentlemen! This is will save me money if I find a used one in Seattle.

Ssmo722 years ago
I've done repairs like this on neoprene waders as well, using duck canvas coated in weldwood contact cement though because it's what I had. Haven't had any leaks yet!
useraaaaa2 years ago
wow Aquaskipper
qballcat5 years ago
i dive but when im in cold water i use a drysuit...will this work on it?
Yeah it should work as long as you allow the glue to set thoroughly and perhaps under a bit of pressure to get the air bubbles out. how many mm is it? I patched up my old 5mm neoprene suit like this but if its a membrane suit you may have to ask a diving shop or something.
ok thanks, ill ask the dove shop.
Why does it say "egg" on your finger?
jkyas8 years ago
For many repairs, you can avoid stitching by gluing a piece of nylon knit over the entire patch. For small stuff, no patch is required; just glue the neoprene together. Nice job (though the suit model looks a bit dorky.)
I have made many repairs to my neoprene waders, but nothing involving making a patch, just using wader repair goop. If I ever tear my waders a new one, this will come in handy. Underwater barbed wire is my favorite way to create a rip to practice repairing. I would also recommend scuffing up the neoprene rubber and cleaning it before applying the glue. My repairs have been consistently better after I have done this.
oldswimr8 years ago
That suit is an 'immersion suit', or what was once called a 'survival suit'. Judging by the foot, it was made by Imperial. It's Coast Guard approved as a personal flotation device. The reason it was thrown away is because a repair is considered a modification, and the suit loses it's CG approval once repaired or modified. What is usually done in this case, is that the suit is destroyed, as in cut up so no one will try to repair it, and use it as a lifesaving device. I spent 20 years in the CG, and 15 of that was as a helicopter rescue swimmer. I pulled more than one lifeless body from the water that was clothed in one of these suits that was damaged, modified, the wrong size, or worn incorrectly. The best thing to use that suit for is the scrap neoprene that can be had from cutting off the legs, removing the flat foot part and cutting it open to form one large sheet. You don't want to trust your life or anyone else's to a repaired/modified suit. oldswimr
Bigdawg8 years ago
Gee, Tim. That's all well and good, but I doubt many of us have survival suits laying about that need patching. Perhaps you could do something that we can all benefit from, like say, how to make a Knex gun?! /tongue-in-cheekiness Actually, I've been wanting to tell you that people like you are the reason I'm still reading Instructables and I appreciate your constructive input; even if I don't have a wetsuit or survival suit.
I agree with Bigdawg, this is the type of instructable I come back here for. Seeing a whole lot of K'NEX guns is obnoxious, even though they are each different, due to the various colors you can make them....(more tongue-in-cheekiness) Great instructable! Keep it up!
I'm going to go ahead and third the motion. TimAnderson, you've taught us how to sharpen knives (which was especially necessary after I made that turtle-related instructable), fix battery packs, make a quick hammock, and so much more. And now, you've given us a way to stay warm when we're in hostile environments sharpening our blades to fell trees to clear a place for a hammock!? Anyway. Keep up the Instructables. They are wonderful!
trebuchet038 years ago
Being a nerd is great :)