Introduction: Create Your Own Sailboat Belaying Pins

After struggling to find good smaller diameter belaying pins online (ideally I wanted chromed bronze or stainless steel), I decided to make them myself. My pins are not quite as traditional as they could be, they have wooden handles and stainless pins, but they are functional and look quite nice.

The advantage of stainless for the actual pin is that the pin diameter is smaller and thus a smaller pin rack can be used, or more pins put in the rack. These pins are about 10” long when complete. You can adjust this at will, by changing the length of the stainless rod.

Step 1:

Get your parts together. You will need:

#8 hardwood file handles (one for each pin you want to make)

7/16" stainless steel rod. 8" for each pin to create 10" belaying pins.

You will also need the following tools:

A handsaw

A hacksaw

Rubber mallet

Tape measure


Teak Oil

Step 2: Prepare the Handles

Cut the metal collar off of your file handle (this should leave 4” of wood handle left, if it doesn’t you may need to compensate for length when you cut your stainless rod). If your handle lacks the metal collar skip this step. The idea is that the overall length ends up at 10”. Sand the edges of your cut smooth.

Step 3: Make Sure That the Holes in Your Tool Handles Are 7/16ths

Make sure that the hole in your cut file handles is 7/16 in diameter (mine were). If they are not drill them out to 7/16, and 2” deep. Mine were already 2” deep as well, so with any luck you will not have to do anything with the holes. If they are deeper, just make the stainless rod that much longer when you cut it. Lightly test fit the handle (don’t push it on very far or it will never come back off). 

Step 4: Cut Your Stainless Rod to Length.

Cut your stainless rod to length. In my case each piece was 8” long. I probably could have added an inch for an 11 inch finished pin and been fine. Sand the rough edges of your cut smooth.

Step 5: Gluing the Handles

Dip the 8 inch pieces of stainless rod in epoxy or waterproof glue and hammer the rod into one of your prepared handles. To avoid getting glue or epoxy on the wood handles, I hammered on the wooden handle with the rod on the garage floor, wiped off the excess epoxy, and allowed it to set.

Step 6: Sand and Fininish

Lightly sand the wooden handle clean removing any glue or epoxy at the base of the handle with find sandpaper (220 grit or similar). Then submerge the pins handle side down in teak oil overnight. Try not to get too much oil on the stainless part of your pins, but if they have a 16th or an 8th of an inch of metal submerged they will still look fine. Once they have soaked in the oil, pull them out, wipe them off, and let them dry.

You now have a set of strong, functional belaying pins. The next set of instructions will cover the pin rack.

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