How to Make Convertible Boat Tops

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Part of the fun of boating is “catching the rays.” But when the sun becomes too hot, having a boat top that you can raise will help you enjoy the water longer.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal tubing and connectors for frame
  • PVC pipe
  • Pencil/paper
  • Heavy-duty marine canvas with snap fasteners
  • Electric drill or screwdriver

How to Make Convertible Boat Tops

  • Decide whether you are going to use a straight or curved frame.

  • Once you have determined which type of frame you will use, measure the area you intend to shade. Record your measurements.

  • Purchase the amount of metal tubing and marine canvas you will need, based on your measurements. Purchase any hinging and fastening hardware.

  • Build your frame. Attach pieces of metal tubing together using connectors (much as you would when attaching garden hose extenders). Simply fit the ends of the connectors to ends of the tubing.

  • Stretch the canvas onto the frame and snap into place.

  • Attach the frame, with canvas attached, to either the former rod holders or holders that you have fashioned out of ordinary PVC pipe and screwed onto the boat.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you buy pre-bent metal tubing (yes, it’s available), you will save yourself considerable time and effort. You can, however, purchase straight tubing and bend it yourself, or arrange to have it bent to your specifications.
  • Consider “sacrificing” a couple of rod holders (if they hold rods in an upright position) to hold your frame. This will keep you from having to build additional frame holders. Simply measure the diameter of the holder so you will know which size of metal tubing to buy.
  • You can build frame supports out of ordinary PVC pipe. Simply measure the metal tubing and the pipe so that the frame will fit snugly into the supports. Attach the PVC pipe to a base and secure the base to the boat.
  • Even though you want it to look nice, don’t worry about making your boat top too fancy. The whole idea behind a boat top is comfort and convenience.
  • Use proper hand and eye protection when using power tools and/or when bending metal.
  • If you choose to bend your own metal, be sure you have a firm support for the metal being bent and that your footing is secure. Metal can break, causing you to lose your balance.

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