Small boats often require a variety of sails, covers, ditty bags, straps, and other fabric accessories that have grommets—metal rings that protect holes in the material and whatever cordage runs through them. Plain metal grommets were introduced around 1830 to replace sewn eyelets, and in 1883 William Wilcox developed a new type, the spur grommet, which quickly became the standard for maritime use.Spur grommets can be put under loads that would tear out plain grommets and can be set in sailcloth, canvas, leather, webbing, and many other materials. They have two parts: the grommet itself, which has the barrel that is inserted through the material, and the washer. Spur grommets are made of thicker metal than plain ones, and the barrel is longer to accommodate thicker material. The washers have small triangular teeth that puncture the material when the grommets are installed, and the grommet perimeter has a rolled rim that captures the washer spur tips as they are bent outward.

Photographs by the authors

Spur grommets are made of thicker metal than plain grommets and have rolled rims. The spurs of the washer, right, curl into the hollow of the rime of the grommet, left.

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