How do I Make a Bimini Top for a 12-Foot Boat?

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A homemade Bimini top for a 12-foot boat will cover most of the open boat. Bimini tops are held up by a frame. They are open on all sides, constructed from a heavy-duty canvas. Since they are open on all sides, they are primarily designed to be used as a sun and rain shelter and not a major weather shelter. If you are a boating aficionado who desires shade for those hot days out on the water, then making yourself a homemade Bimini top will provide shade protection and basic rain protection for your small boat.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 -- 5 foot long pieces of 1 inch diameter PVC pipe
  • 2 -- 4 foot long pieces of 1 inch diameter PVC pipe
  • 4 -- 1 inch diameter 90 degree PVC pipe curves
  • 2 -- 3 inch long by ½ inch diameter carriage bolts with threaded ends
  • 2 - ½ inch diameter wing nuts
  • 4 foot by 6 foot piece of canvas duck cloth
  • Upholstery needle
  • Upholstery thread
  • 4 C clamps
  • Drill
  • ½ inch diameter drill bit

Assembling the Frame

  • Create a U shape by taking 2 of the 5 foot long 1 inch diameter PVC pipe pieces and connecting them to 1 of the 4 foot long pieces of 1 inch diameter PVC pipes with 2 of the 1 inch diameter 90 degree PVC pipe curves. This is the first of your U shapes needed for the frame to hold up the canvas top.

  • Create a second U shape by taking 2 of the 5 foot long 1 inch diameter PVC pipe pieces and connecting them to 1 of the 4 foot long pieces of 1 inch diameter PVC pipes with 2 of the 1 inch diameter 90 degree PVC pipe curves. This is the second of your U shapes needed for the frame to hold up the canvas top.

  • Stand the two U shape frames up where the bottom of the U is in the air and the 2 legs are pointing toward the ground.

  • Place the legs from one of the U shaped frames across the legs of the other U shaped frames. Then insert the ½ inch diameter drill bit into the drill. Drill a ½ inch hole through the two points where the legs are crossed.

  • Insert a ½ inch diameter carriage bolt through each of the holes that you bored in the previous step. Then tighten a ½ inch diameter wing nut down on each of the carriage bolts. This secures the frame together and prepares the frame for placement of the canvas top.

Placing the Canvas Top

  • Stand the frame where the frame's 4 legs are holding the 4 foot long 1 inch diameter PVC pipe pieces in the air and parallel to the ground.

  • Wrap one end of the 4 foot wide by 6 foot long canvas around one of the 4 foot long 1 inch diameter PVC pipe pieces. Then use the upholstery needle and upholstery thread to sew the edge of the end of the canvas that you just wrapped around the pole to the main piece of the canvas.

  • Wrap the other end of the 4 foot wide by 6 foot long canvas around the other 4 foot long 1 inch diameter PVC pipe pieces. Then use the upholstery needle and upholstery thread to sew the edge of the end of the canvas that you just wrapped around the pole to the main piece of the canvas. This secures the canvas to the frame to create the top.

  • Open the frame fully to stretch the canvas top as far open as possible.

  • Attach the 4 legs of the frame to the sides of the boat using the 4 C clamps. Tighten down the C clamps, making sure that the legs are fully secured to the boat's sides.

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