How to Make a Beach Umbrella




About: I'm a Navy reservist and a Phlebotomist, that likes to read, sew, and play video games. I play the accordion and LARP on the weekends.

If you're going to the beach, you're going to need a way to escape from the cruel sun!  Here are directions that can help you build your own shade-supplying beach umbrella!

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Step 1: Tools and Supplies

For this project you're going to need:
-A bamboo pole (7+ ft.)
-9 Wooden dowels (mine are 4 ft. long)
-A Hacksaw
-A PVC coupling that can slide on the bambboo comfortably
-A Power drill
-Some strong, thin wire
-A long bolt or screw (around 4-5 inches)
-12 Eye hooks
-A screw for the umbrella top
      -A washer that fits the top screw
-Sturdy cloth (at least 5 or 6 yards)
-A sewing machine with thread
-A needle for hand sewing

Step 2: Cut Your Poles

First you'll need the right length of poles.  Now, you can use any length you prefer, but wanting adequate shade I went for a:
7 ft. pole, with
4 ft. spokes

Cut the top (the thick end) of the bamboo just above a joint, so you have a solid end, and cut the bottom end at a sharp angle.  This will be your umbrellas main mast.
Then take 3 of your 9 dowels and cut them in half for a total of
6 4ft. spokes, and
6 2ft. spokes

Step 3: Drilling and Filling

Drill the ends of the 2ft. lengths and screw in an eye hook for each end.  These will be the pieces that hold up the main spokes of the umbrella!  Also drill a hole into the center of the bamboos flat end.  This will be for the stabilizing top screw.

Then, drill 12 small holes in a circle on the top of the PVC coupling, and two larger holes on the front and back of the center.  This will be the umbrellas slider, so keep that long bolt with it for now.

Step 4: Slicing and Sewing

Cut your cloth into six triangles, with angles of 50, 65, and 65 degrees.  This will make a circle of 300 degrees when they're all sewn together, which will give your umbrella a nice conical shape.

Since I had 4ft. spokes and no protractor, I did some quick math to find that the remaining side was about 3.4ft. (or 41 inches).  When cutting, be sure to leave plenty of cloth for an ample seam allowance - you're going to need it.

Sew the long edges together so all the seams are on the same side, then flip the cloth over and repeat.  What we're doing here is making sheaths for the umbrella spokes, without leaving the possibility for excess fraying.

A couple inches from the top, stop the sheath by turning the stitch at a 90degree angle.  You want to leave enough room for the cloth to act as its own hinge.  There should be a hole in the top-center of the umbrella, but if there isn't, don't worry- you'll be using a screw there later anyway.

Step 5: Assembling the Umbrella

Screw in the top screw with a washer to securely attach the cloth to the main pole.  Then, slide the 4ft. dowels into the sheaths that you've sewn into the sail.

At 2ft. from the top, cut or punch small holes between the spokes and the seam, just large enough for your wire to pass through.  I used a leather punch, but you can use any tool of your choice.  Be careful not to cut the seam open.

Step 6: Assembling and Attaching the Slider

Take your PVC coupling and thread your wire through the small holes to connect the short dowels, and twist it in the inside for stability. 

Slide the coupling and dowels onto the main shaft of the umbrella, and connect the associated free ends of the dowels to the fabric holes on the main spokes by twisting them in loops of wire.  You may want someone to help you by holding the umbrella open, but it's possible (though stuffier) to do it alone.

Once all the dowels are firmly connected, your umbrella should be operational! Just a few more steps to go.

Step 7: Finishing (drill) Touches

Open the umbrella to its max, and use a pencil to mark where the bolt-holes on the slider are.  Then, slide the slider down, and drill two more holes in the main shaft using the same size as the bolt-hole.  Now you can lock the umbrella in place with your handy bolt!

Trim the outside edge of the umbrella if needed, and sew the spoke sheathes closed.  We don't want those little guys falling out! 

You can add a border if you want another color or cleaner appearance, but I left it like it is for a more tropical, rugged look.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Umbrella!

You're all finished!  Go outside and frolic in the summer sun!

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10 Discussions


2 years ago

Read developmental as seven


2 years ago

One more clarification

Are there development panels or six. My understanding is 50° * 2, 65°*4. = 360°. (300, you mentioned, I suppose is a typographical error)

You had mentioned about the remaining piece. I am confused here.


2 years ago

Can the dowels be made of any wood?
Is a bamboo of 2 or 3" diameter suitable. If yes, will it be hollow at the top or have flesh where top washer and screw is screwed?

Need your help pl


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

The canvas was acting really stiff earlier, but has since stretched out nicely and the umbrella can open up. I plan on drilling another hole higher up, which will open the umbrella more and make it tighter. So it was just an issue of fabric choice on that. :)


Reply 3 years ago

I was wondering why you weren't opening up the umbrella, but now I understand. I love this instructable. I throw away more umbrellas each year but I save the material. Now I can make my own. And this instructable looks way more durable than the ones I have to throw away. Thank you!


7 years ago on Introduction

The project looks really nice, will try it over the weekend.



8 years ago on Introduction

What kind of cloth did you use? And what kind of cloth would you suggest? Also did you spray it with any kind of protection?Thanks for the info..