How to Make a Small Boat Mast From PVC Pipeby Finn McCuhilUpdated October 25, 2017
Items you will need
One length of schedule-80 PVC two-inch pipe
Two-inch PVC pipe cap
Pulley with eye-mount
Eyebolt, washer and nut
A mast is the largest spar on any sailing rig. It receives the bulk of the stress under a press of sail and is a critical element of your boat’s propulsion system. Light aluminum or steel alloy masts have largely replaced wood on production sailboats. Fabricating custom masts out of metal is largely impractical for the hobbyist builder. Building wooden masts require expert technique and materials that can intimidate an amateur builder. While not ideal, PVC can be used to make masts for small rigs.
Cut a 3/4-inch slot on opposite sides of the pipe at the top of the mast with a hacksaw. The slots should be at least four inches long.
Drill a hole in the center of the two-inch PVC cap.
Push the eyebolt through the hole in the center of the PVC cap. The eye end of the bolt should be inside the cap. Place a washer over the end of the bolt. Secure the bolt with a nut.
Attach the eye-mount on the pulley to the eyebolt.
Push the cap firmly onto the top end of the mast. Line the pulley up with the slots. Your main sheet will fit through these slots to raise and lower the sail.
Thread your main sheet through the pulley and knot the free end before stepping your mast for the first time.
For small craft in light winds, 1 1/4 Schedule 40 PVC can be used if one-inch steel conduit is placed inside the PVC pipe to within six-inches of the top.
Rope gaskets or hoops cut from larger diameter PVC pipe can be used to attach your sail to the mast.
PVC masts should only be used with boats of 12-feet or less and only in light winds. Always carry a paddle or oars as a backup means of propulsion.
Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.