Applyng Luff tape to sails


I have started making my own sails with light weight mylar.
I am having difficulty applying the folded luff tape to form a pocket for the luff wires on the jib and mainsail.
It is difficult to keep the seam straight / smooth and also not get wrinkles in the sail material were it attaches to the luff material.

I am using 36 micron for the jib and 48 micron for the main
6 mm double sided tape for joining and attaching luff tape.
The luff tape is 17mm wide very light nylon tape.

Can any one give me any ideas or help.


Gerringong Australia

I use sticky back dacron for mine, cut to 1cm strips out of large sheets. The upside is that it sticks to the mylar a helluva lot better. The downside is that it is heavier (at least the stuff I buy is). This is not really an issue on the luff (actually it may add some stability) but it does increase the total weight of the sail.

I can do the job alone - but it is easier with two people. You really want the stuff to go on without any tension, as you can easily end up with puckers in the luff and distort the sail shape. You want to leave that to your cunningham tension.

IMHO, you do not need a non-adhesive luff-pocket material, in turn attached to the luff with adhesive tape. I lay my luff line (either spectra or wire depending on the size of the sail) inside before I fold the luff pocket over. It sticks to the adhesive, but once the job is done, can be pulled free up and down.

I follow the same approach for mains and jibs.

Not sure if this makes sense, but hope it helps.

Thanks Muzza,

I am keen to use the light nylon luff tape.
Sails I have bought have the same luff tape and it has been applied without pucker.
When I look closely it appears that the professionals don’t use double sided tape but it may be a glue of some type?
Anyone have any idea how they do it?


wazza, are you using proper “seamstick” sailmakers tape or just an office type double sided tape?
It will make the difference between a perfect job and a nightmare of puckers and frustration.
Once I have your answer I may be able to help.
Cheers. :zbeer:

hi Ian,

I am using a 1/4 tape I bought from GBYM in the USA from which I also purchased the sail material.
It has no identifing marks on it.




you have to make a sharp fold in the luff tape before you try to stick it on the sail.
Take a piece of luff tape and fold it between your fingers.
Then you have to rub it along a sharp edge of a table or something like that to make a sharp fold.

Doing it this way i can stick lufftapes of 6 mm wide on a micro magic jib without creases or puckers.



The GBMY 6mm tape is the right stuff to use. That’s the stuff I use to join my panels.


Do you use the double sided tape to apply the luff tape?
If so do you apply it to the sail first or to the nylon luff tape before attaching the nylon tape to the sail.

I have had no problems using the tape to join the sail panels, just putting the luff tape on.



No - as I said in my original post, I use sticky back dacron to form my luff pockets. I use double sided tape to join my sail panels.

Warren, as Murray says you do have the correct stuff for the job.
Now it just comes down to practice to get the right result.
I would pin or tape down the sail with a tight straight luff, (remember to raise the rear part of the main to allow the extra cloth some room)
Next apply the adheasive down the length of the sail.
Attach the luff tape (which has been previously cut to the correct width) to the side with the adheasive trying to not stretch it too tight.
Turn the sail over and do it all over again.
This being the tricky bit as the luff tape wants to fold over and gets grabbed by the adheasive without you having the correct tension on it. :scared:
The good thing with this type of sailmakers tape is that you can pull it apart and redo it a few times without damage.
Have you considered an alternative method of attaching the mainsail to your groovy mast?
Instead of a full length luff cord up the main how about luff slides made using small lengths ( 10mm/ half inch) of plastic tube stuck every 150mm/ six inchs up the luff.
The advantges are less friction, sail goes to a right angle without an S bend, much easier to make and fit, less weight.
A similar arrangment can be used on the jib luff with the forestay running through the plastic tubes.
Best of luck mate, post some pictures of your success. :zbeer:

I wish I had time to do justice to the posts. Mine are on the fly - a true jafa. Ian speaks wisely - with the time allowed a leisurely Wellingtonian.

Thanks for your help guys I will let you know how I get on.