How to Install Snaps on Boat Canvas

by Will Charpentier
Canvas snaps onto almost all boats at one time or another.

Canvas snaps onto almost all boats at one time or another.

Canvas care and repair, long a part of the professional seafarer's stock-in-trade, comes in handy for all boaters. Canvas boat covers, light covers and bimini tops -- whether made of cotton canvas or one of the newer synthetics -- are often held in place by snaps made up of four parts: the "dome" that goes on the outside and the female part that forms its back; and a base, held in place by a back with a prominent post. The prudent boat owner will learn how to install a snap in a boat's canvas to prepare for the day when that skill is needed.

1.

Cut a hole in the canvas with an awl at the exact location where the snap is needed. Overlap the edges of the two pieces of canvas into their finished position and push the awl through both at the same time if two pieces of canvas are being snapped together. Use the existing hole(s) if a snap -- or snaps -- occupied the location previously.

2.

Mount the "dome" by pushing its post through the hole in the canvas. Set the dome's female part -- the bowl-shaped part of the snap -- over the dome's hollow post, so that its flat back is against the canvas. Ensure the dome is on the side of the canvas that will be seen when the project is complete.

3.

Hold the two parts of the snap together while you move the canvas to the die included in the snap fastener kit. Keeping the snap and canvas together, place the canvas and snap on the die so that the dome nestles in the die's concave face.

4.

Set the punch -- included in the kit -- squarely in the center of the dome's post that rises through the female part. Strike the end of the punch smartly with a ball peen hammer, riveting the male and female dome parts together, firmly. The canvas should compress slightly between the two parts.

5.

Prepare the subordinate canvas -- if you are snapping two pieces of canvas together, the piece with the dome is the superior canvas, since it will rest atop the piece of canvas to which it joins -- by pushing the post up through the hole in the canvas. Move the canvas and post to the die, so that the flat back of the post rests on the surface of the die. Place the base, the part that snaps into the female part of the dome, over the post so that its flat rim rests on the canvas.

6.

Center the punch on the end of the post and strike the punch smartly, deforming the post downward and, as with the dome, riveting the male and female parts together. As with the dome, the canvas should compress slightly between the two parts.

Items you will need

  • Awl
  • Snap fastener kit
  • Ball peen hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves

Tip

  • If your canvas snaps directly to the boat rather than another piece of canvas, only the "dome" part of the snap is required: the base, without its post, will be mounted directly on the boat.

Warning

  • Wear safety glasses; whenever metal strikes metal, bits are dislodged and fly around. Wear gloves as well; should you miss the end of the punch and strike a finger instead, gloves will lessen the hammer's impact.

References

  • The American Merchant Seaman's Manual; W. Hayler

About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

Photo Credits

  • suisse,lac de zürich image by rachid amrous-spleen from Fotolia.com