Tuesday 29 May 2012

Gear and Tool Reviews: Fun with Sharp Pointy Objects

    "and I found what I always wanted..."
                                   -David Cook

    Boats have lots of soft stuff that can be hard to fix, and often when the bimini canvas tears or the seams split or the stitching disintegrates it needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.  But it can be tough to find room on a small boat for a sewing machine and even tougher to find room to use it.  Our old friends at Lee Valley Tools  have the answer for quick and dirty on-the-water mending:  The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl

  Made in the USA, the Speedy Stitcher is a self-contained heavy sewing kit.  The polished wooden handle contains a curved #8 needle, a straight # 8 needle and a bobbin loaded with waxed synthetic thread.

   It is dead simple to use.  Unscrew the chuck, select the desired needle, install it and pull some thread around ...oh, hell, here's the instructions .

Our low-buck sunshade's stitching was stitched no longer, so it was a good candidate to demonstrate the Speedy Stitcher at work.

    Step 1-To start, push the loaded awl through the work.  pull through enough thread to span the offending mending, with an extra 3" or so.  KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!

Step 2. Pull the awl back through,keeping the free end of line on the other side of the work,  then punch it through again, remembering to KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!

...pulling it back slightly so there is a loop. Push  the free end from step 1 through the loop.
 ...like this...

Then pull the awl back through, and snug the loop down tight, creating a lock stitch.

Move the awl over slightly, and repeat the three steps.  Keep repeating until you run out of room.Keep remembering to KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!  Practice makes perfect, and even novice Speedy Stitchers like me can produce work that, while not real pretty, is at least sturdy.  And it IS Speedy- even including set-up time the mending job seen below took less than 10 minutes.  It would take at least three times that long to take it to the canvas shop up the river, although the result would be five times (or more) as pretty.

For those who learn visually, and want to try a more sophisticated stitch,  Sailrite has a great demonstration video:

  The Speedy Stitcher also comes in handy whipping the ends of lines.
  It's less than $15- you may not need it often, but when you need it you may really need it.  It's well built, durable, and does exactly what it is supposed to do.   The included instructions are clear and easy to follow.   I have had mine four four years and it has paid for itself numerous times over.


  1. think we need a video splainin this on

  2. Brian, since I just bought one, I was going to write up this tool for Small Boat Projects, but you beat me to it. And you did a better job than I would have done to boot.


    1. You're making me blush, bob. Feel free to borrow this review, if you want. Cool tool, ain't it?

    2. I also concur that the Speedy Stitcher tool is a very good thing to have on hand.
      I have had many opportunities to use it on sails, canvas and lines and I find it pretty easy to use.
      It takes a bit of forethought as to how it is intended to be used but your description provides the basics.
      I've used this cheap tool enough that I recently had to refill the bobbin of thread after making yet another tiller cover for our sail boat.
      Highly recommended, cheap and functional if you are not the I-phone call in the repair crew type of person.
      Caleb D.

  3. I've just started using this tool also - sewed about 7 feet of headsail leach with it last night (only 5 more feet to go!) in a couple of hours. It is a very useful, reasonably "quick" way to effect sewing repairs that are sturdy.

    You gave a very good write-up on how to use as well. Bravo!


  4. This is really useful!