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High-tech tools for high-tech marine covers

July 5, 2018

Tim James, co-owner of digiShapes™ LLC in Kent, Wash., is a software developer with an interest in marine canvas. His company takes 3-D measurements of entire boats, which are then converted into automatic boat covers. Its SwiftShield™ system consists of a hydraulic mechanism and a tight-fitting fabric cover that is lifted up and over the …

Recommended fabric cleaning products

July 1, 2018

Fabricators play an important role in teaching customers to keep their boats in shape. It’s pretty simple. People buy boats because they want to have fun. The reality, however, is that work—the opposite of fun—is required to keep any watercraft in tip-top condition. Therein lies the rub. “A lot of boaters don’t want to do …

Better job costing for better profits

Working with numbers may not be your cup of tea, but it’s critical to the success of your business. It’s a fairly safe bet that not many fabricators started their operations because they wanted to work on spreadsheets. But like it or not, when you hang out a shingle, only part of your work will …

Coping with material failures and client confusion

Material meltdowns, client confusion and the wrath of Mother Nature create challenges for fabricators that require savvy skills and teeth-gritting determination. Nearly every marine fabricator has stories about projects that went awry and failed to meet demands in one way or another. It might be thread that doesn’t hold up, a mooring cover tearing loose …

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Liz Diaz creates marine interiors and homeless shelters

May 1, 2018

Liz Diaz designs inspired boat interiors—and is applying that expertise to bring shelter to the homeless. Having a really good life is not financially driven. It’s inspiration driven,” says Liz Diaz, MFC, owner of North Beach Marine Canvas in San Francisco, Calif. “Working on and around the water is a singularly lovely employment. I am …

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Diversifying beyond marine

There’s value in diversifying beyond boats for marine fabricators, like steadier work and income flow, but the move may not be smooth sailing for every business; careful evaluation is critical to avoid sinking. Business owners are often given conflicting advice. On the one hand, they are cautioned about the dangers of “putting all your eggs …

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Makerspaces offer work-based learning for students

April 10, 2018

The CCC Maker Initiative, administered by Sierra College (www.sierracollege.edu) in Rocklin, California, is offering internships and work-based learning experiences for students through 24 California Community College makerspaces, where students gain technical, entrepreneurial and work-ready skills sought by employers. California Community Colleges participating in the CCC Maker (cccmaker.com) initiative to build makerspace communities are preparing students …

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On the horizon for marine tension shades

March 13, 2018

Canvas shops around the country have seen an increase in demand for tension shades versus fixed-frame structures such as biminis. Boat owners like sun protection with less obstructive framing and the modern look of shade sails. Fabricators who have been installing tension shades are already looking at where the market is heading and where the …

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Fasteners for marine tension shades

March 7, 2018

As more boat owners are having tension shades installed over decks for sun protection, marine fabricators have come up with various ways of attaching the fabric to poles. “The most common fastener is SnapFast® for hardtops,” says Tony Shaw, owner of Affordable Canvas LLC in Venice, Fla. “Sometimes we use keder track or webbing to …

Zipper tricks and techniques

March 1, 2018

Advanced tips and techniques for choosing and working with zippers in your projects. Providing an excellent end product is paramount to marine fabricators, and zippers play a vital role in the long-term functionality of everything from covers to cushions. But zippers can be tricky. Choosing the right one can be confusing, and working with zippers …