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Thread: 24.2 square feet......

  1. #1
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    Default 24.2 square feet......

    .....of buttery 6 oz. oil-tanned goodness. My wife wants me to make her a handbag that is a bit bigger than the others I've made her. This ought to do it. If you ever need great leather at a good price, I highly recommend "The Leather Guy" in Minnesota. Big selection and really nice stuff.

    DSCF0355.jpg

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Nice! In the early 70's I used to grab wonderful leather in the tannery section of Lowell, MA. Nowadays it's yuppieville apartments & obviously no stinky tanneries left.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    If a guy was to purchase a hide of leather for general use on his sailboat and rowing boat with oar leathers being at the top of the list of projects.... what should he get? Weight, tanning process, etc.....

    Jeff

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Latigo is the most common for most boat stuff. It is a tough, smooth cowhide, often a burgundy or almost black color and generally quite heavy duty (10 oz.-12 oz.or so). The main reason it is good for boat leathers is that it has been stuffed pretty well with oils and waxes during the tanning and finishing processes so it stands up better in a wet environment than most leather will. It's fairly unusual to see a whole hide of latigo. Usually it will be offered in various cut pieces or strips as it's pretty expensive and there isn't an awful lot that one would really do with a huge hunk of it.

    This isn't latigo, just an oil tanned cowhide I bought, but it is about 10 oz. weight. Latigo will be a similar thickness or a bit more and have similar flexibility, but with enough body to hold its shape pretty well. This piece was soaked in water and then molded over a wooden form.

    edge.jpg
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 06-20-2018 at 05:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Todd, I have some leather bits for making a knife sheath - can I color it / darken it with a dunk in (say) coffee or tea or other brewed vegetable based liquid ?




    Rick

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Nice work Todd

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    I don't know. I have darkened wool tweed by dunking it in tea and it worked OK, but I haven't tried it with leather. Based on how much I have seen alcohol based leather dyes, which seemed pretty dark when applied, lighten up as they dried, I kind of wonder if any change might be so subtle as to not make a difference. It's worth a try on scrap though. Then there is always the question of color fastness to consider. Basically, "If this thing gets damp or a bit wet is the color going to leech out and bleed all over anything close to it?" I end up using some sort of clear sealer coat on most smooth leather items, even if I liked the finish and surface texture better without it, just as a safety factor.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Todd, I have only done leather molding for knife sheaths which don't require anything near the level of shaping that you were able to perform without any wrinkles. Would you explain how you did that or know of a source of the knowledge. I have gotten some very good buys of latigo on ebay from saddle makers or others. It may be called called scrap but some pieces are high quality and large enough for doing a purse like yours.
    Tom L

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Beautiful job Todd. I should have done a web search before bothering you with an amateur leather question. I'll have to try a project like that.
    Tom L

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Sure. The molds are pretty simple - a wooden "bump" shaped like what you want to make is attached to a baseboard. I varnish mine to keep them from soaking up water, but that may not be absolutely necessary. Then you have a collar top piece with a hole in it that is just slightly bigger than the wooden bump. Cut a piece of fairly heavy leather which will be a couple inches bigger than the bump all around. Soak the leather in water for a half hour or so, until it stops bubbling. Now you need a staple gun, a sharp knife and a handful of clamps (spring clamps can help, but C-clamps do the final clamping). You lay the leather over the bump and mold it as much as you can to the bump shape with your hands. It's not going to pull down all the way, but it will conform to some extent, and it will tell you where you are going to need to make relief cuts around the edges of the leather hunk in order to get it to conform.

    A couple of staples are put through the leather and into the baseboard near the top and off to the sides, just to keep it from being pulled out of line as you start molding it, and V-shaped relief cuts can be made as needed - but keep them all at least 1/2" or more away from the bump. You are going to want a clean flange around your molded leather bump when it is done, so that you can stitch it to the back panel of the item. The work from here is a matter of slowly forcing the wooden collar down over the bump and sandwiching the leather between them as you pull the leather tight to the form. A ring of half a dozen clamps surrounding the mold will allow you to slowly work the collar all the way down and the leather into its molded shape. This should then be left alone for a couple days to dry thoroughly. For one like mine with a large flat area on the bump's top, I'll stick a flat board or weight on top to keep that part flat as it is drying.

    Once dry, peel it off the mold, trim the flange to shape, cut a back piece and sew them together, either by hand or with a machine if you have one.

    molds.jpg

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    That is beautiful work Todd!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Nice, Todd. You're quite the craftsman.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    I really enjoy working with leather. I only do it for our own use, don't do it for money, have no desire to do so, and it's just a good way to blow off steam using nice materials, and without needing more than just a few basic tools. If something works out well, great. If it doesn't, it's no big deal - learn and move onward. I did luck out a couple years ago when I bought a big old Consew straight stitch leather sewing machine cheap, from a lady whose late husband had run a small upholstery business. It's a blast to watch that thing chug through heavy leather, but I also still hand stitch a lot of stuff for the look and quality.

    The molded leather technique is great because the process is fairly quick and simple, and the results are usually pretty elegant - just letting a nice hunk of leather be a nice hunk of leather with minimal other adornment. Some of the other stuff is a lot more labor intensive.

    Kilt belt, sporran and sporran chain.

    belts1.jpg

    A similar belt made for my wife to wear with a tartan dress. The holes in these were all punched one at a time. While doing it, I could hear the Beatles in the back of my mind "..and though the holes were rather small. they had to count them all. Now they know how many holes...etc."

    m-belt.jpg

    A hand-sewn possibles/shooting bag. This was a solid light tan colored leather. It got two coats of brown dye. The first was just applied evenly with a sponge and allowed to dry. The second was blotted on with a crumpled up paper towel and not rubbed out, generating that nice mottled color. We wove the strap on an inkle loom. I think you're supposed to hang dead birds on those leather straps with rings. Unfortunately, I'm fresh out of dead birds, and don't really like birds anyway, but at least the straps look cool. The sporran is wild boar fur and roughly modeled after an ancient one. Wild boars are kind of stinky......

    shooting-bag-and-boar.jpg

  14. #14
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Great work, thanks for showing these.

    Any more?

    I like leather, but in Texas the only thing done is Cowboy motifs - not my thing.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    I've done a little bit of cowboy leather, though it's pretty simple and nothing with elaborate tooling or decoration.

    Leather.jpg

    When I made that cartridge belt for the 45-70 Sharps I didn't think about how much those bullets weigh. If loaded, it is one seriously heavy belt. I always wanted a scabbard for my Winchester carbine, even though I don't have a horse. Maybe I can hang it on my recumbent tricycle in case stray dogs bother me, or just become one of those open carry nut cases and ride over to Walmart.

    DSCF1280a.jpg

    Most of our stuff is Scottish for festivals and highland games.

    A shoulder bag for my wife to match the belt and the same basic pattern some of my sporrans, but a bit larger.

    shoulder-bag.jpg

    When I originally made the shoulder strap for the possibles bag I had to make an inkle loom to weave it. We then went kind of nuts and made a whole lot of inkle-woven straps. I modified a drawing program that lets me punch in different colors on the warp yarns and will show me the pattern that it will turn out. My wife does the weaving because I'm told my weaving is "too messy" so these days I just come up with the plan and warp the loom.The leather in that new hide will be just about the perfect weight for sandwiching the ends of the woven straps, sewing them neatly with the Consew leather machine and making more guitar straps. They're a little light for electrics unless backed with leather or some solid fabric, but work nicely on acoustics.

    Group1.jpg

    024.jpg

  16. #16
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Do you have a preferred leather supplier?
    I recently went thru a Tandy Leather store near me and about fainted at the cost of hides.
    Then I found out what first class Brazilian leather costs and just gave up.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Exemplary work Todd!
    Jay

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    The belts, sporrans and holsters are generally made from veg-tanned tooling leather (that pinkish, stiff stuff) and often the best place to find craft-sized pieces and strips at low-ish prices is eBay. Several of the big leather suppliers sell there and you can get some bargains compared to Tandy prices. For the oil tanned leather like the big side I just got, I generally go through The Leather Guy in Minnesota. His prices are reasonable, the quality is good, and his website will give you a good idea of what exactly you are investing in, with any defects or problem spots noted and shown with photos. The hide above, for example, was about $113, plus $13 to ship it. Not cheap by any means, but if you think about the value of what all you could make from a piece that large, it's not too bad.

    https://www.theleatherguy.org/

    You can also get most of the rivets, fasteners, buckles, dyes and hand tools from a couple of the big leatherwork suppliers that have stores on eBay or from their websites. Compared to the tools we buy to work on boats, the hand tools for leatherwork are dirt cheap.

    I got tired of my store bought belts wearing out because they were made from thin, lousy materials with a paper-thin leather veneer on top. I saved the buckles, bought a few heavy veg-tanned strips (around $8 each off of eBay) and a handful of screw-together rivets. Problem solved.

    belts.jpg

  19. #19
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    The skill levels of people on this forum - in so many different areas - never ceases to amaze me.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  20. #20
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Thanks for the sellers.
    Tandy was $250 for the same as your original oil tanned skin.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    tools.jpg


    This rather meager batch of tools does nearly all of the work - not counting the sewing machine, of course, but a fair bit of what I have made only had hand sewing. I don't think I've made anything that could not have been completely hand sewn. I usually use sail needles and a sail palm for that because I have them and I'm used to using them.

    (1) The rotary punch was about $20 and is really handy around the house, whether you work on leather or not.

    (2) The utility knife which has cut the panels for better than 100 sails.

    (3) The edge rubber. You wax a freshly cut edge and rub it in one of those grooves to round and polish it. $10

    (4) Various dyes (about $7 each) They go pretty far. Some are alcohol-based, some water and some oil-based. All seem to work.

    (5) Clear top coating. This one is some sort of acrylic. There are also some one-shot versions with dye built in.

    (6) Assorted rivets, screw studs, etc. The pointy studs on the sporrans and big belts actually came from a place selling them for body piercing..... eeuuuuwwww

    (7) Edge rounder - Essentially it is a small concave gouge which acts like a little round-over bit to ease a freshly cut edge. After that, you wax the edge and polish it with the wooden edge rubber. These wood-handled tools were all in the $10 range.

    (8) Stitching groover with adjustable fence and two bits. One bit will cut a shallow groove. Hand stitching looks better if the stitches are neatly nestled into a groove. The fence allows you to maintain uniform distance from the edge of the piece. The other bit is just a dull blade, intended to tool a line on wet leather along an edge for decoration, but not cut into the leather.

    (9) This tool has small spiked wheels in two sizes. You roll it along, making pin pricks where your evenly spaced stitch holes should be for hand stitching.

    (10) Dividers. You set them and "walk them" down the leather, making marks for evenly spacing holes you then punch with the hand punch.

    I also use a big pair of Fiskars pinking shears to cut those zig-zag edges on some pieces. It's murder on your hand, but works.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Made a few cases for flyreels. Great info. I’m going to try molding something. I would say the Osborne rotary punch is a great tool. Steel and it’ll last forever. Made in New Jersey. For more than occasional use or if you are a gadget head.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Posted this before. The leather is from an old belt with a broken buckle. This buckle was made from some phosphor bronze scrap.


    Very obviously hand sewn and formed around a cylinder of wood so that it is naturally circular.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  24. #24
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Todd, What Clan is that beautiful tartan?
    Jay

  25. #25
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    Default Re: 24.2 square feet......

    Coming from a family with Scottish, Irish, English and Swedish roots but no family tartan, I designed our own. We just call it "Bradshaw T6" as it is the sixth pattern I designed and the one we decided to go with. I've had four versions of it woven in Scotland or England using the same yarn counts, but with some color variations, which is fairly common practice with tartans.

    T-6-Tartans.jpg

    The first was the bright blue background version in post #13 above. The second run substituted black for the blue and the other colors stayed the same. These were both 16 oz. heavyweight wool from the Dlagliesh tartan mill in Scotland.

    T6-B-and-Bl.jpg

    The third version used a navy blue background and slightly brighter red and orange, shown on the dress in post #15. Number four used two browns substituted for the red and orange and a grey yarn for the background. These two were 13 oz. wool woven by Marton Mills in England. The slightly lighter weight is a bit more versatile for the items my wife sews.

    T6-N-and-G.jpg

    Companies like Scotweb (https://www.scotweb.co.uk/) host tartan designer programs, which you can play with for free. You pick yarn colors and yarn counts and the program will generate an image of what your tartan would look like. If you decide to have one woven, the tartan mills will often do runs as short as ten or eleven meters. I hack off a hunk and send it to the lady who makes my kilts and my wife makes dresses, skirts and jackets from the rest.

    Here is a typical page from a tartan designer program. You can easily spend hours tweaking designs and watching the patterns change, just for fun. This one was number T-38, so I've spent a fair bit of time playing with the program.

    T38.jpg.
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 06-23-2018 at 12:43 AM.

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