Fastener Selection: Choosing the Right Fastener Type

SKU: X-HT-300029



Here at Sailrite®, we carry a large selection of fasteners so you can find just the right one for your application. We know, though, that when you’re not sure what you need this large selection can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’re going to break down the fastener choices by type so you can decide which style is right for you and your project.

Let’s take a closer look at the five main types of fasteners we offer. And for even more help choosing the right one for your next project, reference our Fastener Selection Guide in the "More Helpful How-Tos" section of this page.

Snap fasteners are the most common type fastener and probably the first image that comes to mind when you think about fasteners.

Covers, dodgers, tarps, and tabs of fabric or webbing for forestay hanks for sails under 100 square feet. These fasteners are highly resistant to corrosion.

Button, socket, eyelet and stud. Screw studs, machine screws and windshield clips are also available for cloth-to-surface applications, which eliminate the need for an eyelet. These components are also available for cloth-to-cloth-to-surface applications. And for applications securing multiple layers of fabric, a gypsy stud is available. You can read more about gypsy studs in our guide, “What Is a Gypsy Stud?” (#300037XHT).

Low profile with a smooth domed top.

Good. The overall shear strength is excellent, but snap fasteners are easily released when pulled from an angle. Stainless steel snaps possess slightly better strength.

The button rivets to the socket to create the top half of the snap and the eyelet rivets to the stud for the complementing side. A special tool is required to install snaps. The choices are:

  • Snap Fastener Installation Tool (#25204) with a 1/8” hole cutter (#121386).
  • Sailrite® Snap Fastener Deluxe Installation Tool (#100949) with a 1/8” hole cutter (#121386).
  • Pres-N-Snap Tool (#109011).
  • SnapRite® System (#104500).
  • W-1 Hand Press (#121274) with snap fastener die set (#120742)

    Components are available in nickel-plated brass and stainless steel finishes. We also offer components with a matte black oxide finish for a sleek look. Buttons are also available with colored caps to blend into canvas. Components can be purchased individually or in complete sets.

    Pull-The-DOT Fasteners, also known as “one-way” fasteners, look like a traditional snap fastener at first glance, but they are actually a specialty version of the classic snap. These uniquely designed snaps have a built-in locking mechanism that can withstand extreme pressure on three sides without unlocking. The buttons have a small dot that indicates which side will open, hence the name “Pull-The-DOT.”

    These fasteners are well suited for applications where the strain on the snap is not shear, like on the front panel of a dodger. Pull-The-DOT fasteners are also great for enclosure curtains, trailering covers, storage box covers, and straps that wrap around things and fasten.

    Pull-The-DOT button, socket and stud. Regular snap fastener eyelets can be used. Screw studs are also available for cloth-to-surface applications.

    Low profile, just like a snap fastener, with a smooth, domed top.

    Better with a strong, positive hold.

    Pull-The-DOT fasteners are slightly more difficult to install than traditional snap fasteners because the components need to be correctly aligned. The stud can be installed regularly. The dot on the button should align with the protrusion on the socket, both of which should face the direction that is to be easily released. These fasteners also require special tools for installation. You can choose from:

  • Snap Fastener Installation Tool (#25204) with a 1/8” hole cutter (#121386).
  • Sailrite® Snap Fastener Deluxe Installation Tool (#100949) with a 1/8” hole cutter (#121386).
  • Pres-N-Snap Tool (#109011) with additional die (#586325).
  • SnapRite® System (#104500).
  • Components are available in nickel-plated brass and are sold individually.

    Lift-The-DOT Fasteners, like Pull-The-DOT fasteners, are “one way” fasteners that lock on three sides and can only be released when you lift the edge with the dot and trademark.

    Often used to secure boat covers and dodgers. These fasteners resist corrosion and do quite well in marine environments.

    Socket, backplate, stud and washer. Studs are available in a few different varieties. For cloth-to-cloth applications an Eyelet-Type base stud with a rivet on the bottom and a 2 Prong Stud are available, each requiring a unique washer. For cloth-to-surface applications, screw studs are available, which do not require a washer. There is also a double-height machine screw stud for cloth-to-surface applications.

    Medium. These fasteners do stick up above your application and are tall enough to stub a toe.

    Better with strong, fantastic shear strength.

    Installation of Lift-The-DOT Fasteners is a bit more manual than installing other fasteners. Holes can be cut with a razor blade and then the prongs can be folded over with the Prong Bending Tool for Common Sense and Lift-the-DOT Fasteners (#120445) or a screwdriver. Special hole cutters and other tools make installation much easier. These tools are:

  • Lift-The-DOT Hand Punch (#100972) cuts holes for 2-Prong Studs.
  • Lift-The-DOT Hole Cutter (#110012) cuts the center hole and slits for Lift-The-DOT Sockets.
  • Lift-The-DOT Deluxe Hand Punch (#100695) cuts the center hole and slits for the socket in one squeeze.
  • Pres-N-Snap Tool (#109011) with additional die set (#106397) installs the Eyelet-Type Base Stud only.
  • Components are sold in nickel-plated brass individually or in complete sets. Height options for thicker assemblies are also available.

    These cleverly engineered fasteners are self-locking and feature a socket that grips the stud from all directions and doesn’t release until the head of the button is pulled.

    Ideal for marine, leather and automotive applications where security and performance are important, such as custom car convertible tops, tonneau covers, solar shade panels, dodgers, enclosure curtains and trailered boat covers.

    For cloth-to-cloth applications, these fasteners consist of an upper head with washer and lower stud with washer. For cloth-to-surface applications, there is still an upper head with washer in addition to screw studs, machine screw studs or oval (two hole) plate studs.

    Medium, but still low enough to not stub your toe on and be attractive.

    Best due to their very positive connectivity and can be released by their spring loaded cap.

    Very easy to install, all Pull It Up components either screw or bolt together. You will need the Locking Key (#121357) or Locking Tool (#121358) and the following hole cutter would be helpful as well:

  • #2 Hole Cutter (#121387) to cut holes for the button.
  • Nickel-plated brass or stainless steel components are sold individually or in complete sets. We also have components in a variety of finishes depending on your desired look.

    Twist-Lock fasteners, also known as Common Sense fasteners, are a quick and secure way to fasten both cloth-to-cloth and cloth-to-surface applications. As the name suggests Twist-Lock fasteners feature a stud that twists and locks securely in place over an eyelet and washer.

    Often used to hold covers and enclosures in place, especially mainsail covers and dodgers, and on luggage and leather goods. These are designed specifically for wet environments.

    Eyelet, washer and stud. Studs are available with a barrel, single screw, two screw or buttons, or pronged base. Barrel studs require a backplate for installation and pronged studs require a clinch plate. You can learn more about the various stud options in our “Common Sense / Twist-Lock Fastener Discussion of Studs Video” (#20033XHT).

    Very high profile stud. It’s easy to grab and locate but stands high off the application.

    Best. Twist-Lock fasteners won’t come undone without the manual twist of the stud.

    Installation of most parts can be done without special tools, but there are a few that make the job easier. Different stud designs also require different methods of installation. Here are a few of the tool options you can use:

  • You can use the Snap Fastener Installation Tool (#25204), SnapRite® Twist Lock Die Kit (#104619), Sailrite® Snap Fastener Deluxe Installation Tool (#100949) or Pres-N-Snap Tool (#109011) with the Turn Lock Die Set (#104993) to install buttons.
  • To install studs for cloth-to-surface applications, use the Single Screw Common Sense Driver Tool (#100135) or Twist-Lock Driver Installation Tool (#120751) with the 5/8" screw stud.
  • To cut holes in fabric for installation, you can use the 1/8" hole cutter (#121386) or Stayput Spin Cut 1/8" (#104482).
  • To cut a hole for Common Sense eyelets, use Common Sense Eyelet Hole Cutter (#108001) or Common Sense Deluxe Lever Hand Punch Tool (#100696) in combination with the Prong Bending Tool for Common Sense and Lift-the-DOT Fasteners (#120445).
  • The Tylaska Dual Cavity Snap Fastener Installation Die (#103543) can be used with a rivet punch (#100949) to install these fasteners.
  • If you're using a manual hole cutter, such as the 1/8" hole cutter (#121386) or the Lift-The-DOT Hand Punch (#100972), you'll want to use a durable cutting block and a high-quality mallet. We recommend using the Rubber Cutting Block (#378100) and the Barry King Mallet Hammer Style 3# (#68563). If you're cutting small holes up to 3/8" or using the Sailrite SnapRite System, we also recommend using the Sailrite Cutting Block & Die Holder (#121597). This handheld cutting block is also incredibly useful in conjunction with awl, Common Sense, spin cutters and other Lift-the-DOT hole cutters.

    Twist-Lock fasteners are available in nickel-plated brass and stainless steel. Nickel-plated brass components are sold individually and in complete sets, but stainless steel products are only sold in kits.

    We hope this makes finding the right fastener for your project a little easier. If you still have questions, chat in or give us a call.