How to Make a Homemade Roller Furling

by Shellie Braeuner

Sailing is a simple act. Sails catch the prevailing wind off the water and move the boat. A skilled pilot can steer the boat by moving the sails. The speed is determined not just by the wind but by the number and position of sails that catch that wind. A roller furler allows a single pilot to open and furl small lightweight sails on a sailboat. It doesn't work well for a mainsail because this sail is too stiff to wrap around the roller.

Drill a hole through both of the PVC end caps big enough to accommodate the cord.

Measure the distance from the top of the mast to the front of the craft. Add a foot to the measurement so there is enough cord to knot at either end. Cut a piece of cord to fit.

Tie a snap clip to one end of the cord. Slip a washer then an end cap onto the cord.

Measure the width of the jib. Cut the PVC pipe 4 inches longer than the width of the jib.

Measure 4 inches from one end of the pipe. Just drill through one wall of the pipe, not all the way through. Drill a hole wide enough to accommodate the bungee cord.

Thread the bungee cord through the hole at the 4-inch mark. Push the cord until it emerges from the end of the pipe. Tie a knot in the end of the cord that emerges from the pipe. The knot must be large enough to prevent the cord from being pulled out of the hole. Pull the bungee cord from the hole so it is stopped by the knot.

Thread the cord through the pipe. Press the cap already on the cord onto the top of the pipe. The bungee cord should be 4 inches from the bottom.

Thread the cord through the second cap and press the end cap onto the bottom of the pipe. Follow with the washer and tie the second snap clip to the bottom.

Tape the length of the jib to the PVC pipe. For security, tie the upper and lower grommets to the snap clips at the top and bottom of the roller.

Roll the jib tightly around the roller.

Tie a rope to the loose grommet and wrap around the bottom of the mast. Tie a second rope to the end of the bungee cord.

Clip the top of the roller to the top of the mast. Clip the bottom, with the bungee cord to the front of the boat.


  • check When you pull the rope attached to the grommet, the jib will unfurl and the rope with the bungee cord will wrap around the bottom of the roller. When you drop the rope, the roller will furl the jib back around the roller.


  • close Always double-check your knots to prevent lines from becoming tangled or falling.

Items you will need

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera sail boat image by Kelly Miller from