Sailmakers Palm, How to Make One.




In building a sailboat, you'll want a sail. I like to make stuff myself so I figured I'd make my own. One of the most helpful tools to do so is called a Sailmakers, or sailors, palm. It's really just a bit of leather and steel to help working the needle through all the layers sails need. This instructable is only about how to make the palm, not a sail. I made this out of stuff I had lying around, so if you don't have any of the things you need on hand it'd be better just to buy one, they're cheap; around $15 online.

Step 1: Stuff You Need

For this project you will need:

- a peice of leather, I got this square from a crafts store
- exacto knife, or just a really sharp knife
- scissors
- ruler
- pencil
- a nickel
- sewing awl and waxed thread
- drill and small drill bit

Step 2: Cut Out the Peices

First cut a strip a little wider then your palm. Then cut a hole for your thumb. Once you have the hole cut, cut a slit in the top of the strip. Fold one peice on top of the other, if the hole is no longer big enough adjust it with the knife. Fit the leather over your hand and alter it until you find a shape that's comfortable, but keep in mind you'll have to leave enough space just below the thumb for the nickel. You'll need a round peice of leather just larger than the nickel and also if the leather isn't long enough to go around you hand you'll need another thin, short strip to make up for it.

Step 3: Prepare the Nickel

Drill holes around the nickel just inside the edge. In the center drill partial holes, making sure not to go too deep. Using a centerpunch will help here, and you'll need to file down all the rough burrs and edges (if you don't have a file just rub it on concrete until it's smooth). The drill bit should be just larger than the needle on the sewing awl.

Step 4: Peice It All Together

First sew together the two peices around the thumb hole, make sure that one peice is larger than the other so you can sew the bottom to it.
Then sew on the connecting strap to the bottom, adjust where it meets the top until it's a snug fit then sew that end on as well.

Sew through the holes around the nickel to attach it to the leather palm. Then take the round peice and sew it on around the nickel. Once that's all in place carefully cut a hole around the inside of the nickel, just enough to expose the dimples.

Step 5: You're Done, Make Something.

First of all, the correct way to hold a needle while using this palm is to grasp the needle with the thumb and forefinger. Seat the end of the needle into the dimples and use your middle finger to keep it in place.
The first thing I made with this was a bag, learning from the book, Sailmaker's Apprentice

2 People Made This Project!


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9 Discussions


11 months ago on Step 5

Great ible. I made mine the same way except I domed the nickel using a ball pein hammer, large socket and the rounded end of the vise handle.


1 year ago

Thank you for this instructable--I appreciate it!


5 years ago on Step 5

Awesome. Thanks for this. For some reason I thought i might have to waste money on buying one.


6 years ago on Step 5

Nice Instructable and nice Ditty Bag. I just got the Sailmaker's Apprentice, just to make the ditty bag, haha. I almost bought a sailor's palm to use to make it, but I think after seeing this I will make my own palm.
Thank you.


6 years ago on Introduction

In the photo, the palm appears to be rather tight. A snug fit on the thumb is needed but it should not cut off any blood supply. The part of the palm that goes around the hand should not be tight.


11 years ago on Introduction

I've used these many a time while splicing and finishing lines when I was stationed on boats in the Coast Guard. Nice instructable.


11 years ago on Introduction

good needle holding technique, sometimes, w/ a bigger needle, i like to have my ring finger on the needle too, to help hold it into the palm, but the needle your using isn't rely long enough for that.


11 years ago on Introduction

Doing leatherwork, I can appreciate using one of these. Nice instructable.


11 years ago on Step 5

Okay, I'm pretty sure I'll never need one of these, but I give you credit for a simple and clean Instructable. Nicely done. Aren't those stitching awls the greatest? I've used mine a few times on nylon strapping (like seat belt material) to make sheaths for various knives and such.