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Saddlemaking DVDs

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#16 AZThunderPony



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Posted 10 July 2007 - 09:16 AM

This is a very informative topic. If not for the cost... I'm not a saddle maker, nor will I ever be... but I'd love to collect all of the videos listed just to educate myself on the varied ways saddlers go about putting the saddle together. What and interesting process... The average horse owner has no idea what all goes into the saddle they sit.

Thanks everyone for giving your opinions and reasonings.


;) S

#17 mulefool



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Posted 10 July 2007 - 10:01 AM

It's great to hear the perspectives on the different tapes and DVDs. I'm seriously considering the Harwood DVD. I'd like to learn more of the things that make a good saddle a great saddle. Also very interested in how he makes his ground seat. I guess one of the things that made me a little leary was it seemed like the attitude of the distributer was just "Look, it's by Dale Harwood, you don't need to know anything else" I'm suggesting that anyone that sells ANYBODYS video could probably sell more by putting an outline and maybe a few snippets of video on the internet. At least to suspicious buggers like me. :blush:

#18 Cowboy Crafts Online

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 05:43 PM

I would like to add that I got my DVD in the mail today. As for the folk selling the DVD for Dale. Everyone needs to give them some slack. They operate a ranch in WY. I dont think they are doing the DVD to get rich, just to get the knowledge out to everyone. Please give them some understanding.


#19 GrampaJoel



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Posted 14 July 2010 - 11:16 AM

So I have Dusty's DVD on saddle making. So where do I go from here.
I haven't built a saddle, but would love to make one. One that I could use everyday for a long time.
I don't have any saddle makers around to learn from.
Which DVD should I invest in next?

#20 jwwright



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Posted 14 July 2010 - 11:43 AM

Joel, I would suggest J Watt's dvd set next..............JW.


#21 Traveller



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Posted 14 July 2010 - 04:54 PM

I'm not a saddle maker and never will be but I do have 20 years of television experience and would love to produce a video on building saddles. I do highly professional work that would suit a highly professional saddle maker looking to share his techniques. You can check out my website at www.pebblebeachproductions.com.

Darc, I'll get in touch with Chuck directly.


#22 seveneves



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Posted 15 July 2010 - 06:57 PM

I've kinda started backwards. I bought the Dusty Johnson one. Then Cheaney's, Then recently Jeremiah Watt's.

Knowing what I know now I would have been better off to buy Jeremiah's in the first place. I wasted so much leather that I probably could have paid for it. And the end result would have been a lot better. I really do like Jeremiah's DVD's they are really in depth and he makes it easy to understand. One thing I thought was strange is that he doesn't drill holes in the tree for his saddle strings. One thing that makes his dvds worth it for me is that he taught me how to make my own patterns. Now I don't have to be dependent on anyone else and my saddles can be truly custom made. One thing I didn't like about his videos is these really weird awkward advertisements. Also he's always trying to plug his horseshoe brand tools, it gets annoying after a while. I really want to get Dale's videos but I don't have the scratch. If there's anyone that is willing to trade Jeremiah's for Dales that would be great even if just for a couple weeks. Thanks

p.s. Bruce Cheaney shows you how to cover swells which is great. As far as detailing the contents of videos I guess they probably assume that you'll see all the steps in making a saddle, which if you're an aspiring saddle maker, you should probably know by heart.

Edited by seveneves, 15 July 2010 - 07:04 PM.


#23 joe59



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Posted 26 July 2010 - 12:16 AM

Almost everybody who has played with leather wants to build a saddle. Some of them will start a saddle. A few will even finish one. Fewer still will build another. The next group(including me)are those who will try to make a living at it. The smallest group are those who actually can make a living at it. Building a good quality saddle is it's own reward and my hat is off to anyone who has the desire and passion to do it. It is a hell of a way to make a living but it sure beats work!

My personal library, collected over almost forty years, includes authors John Beck, Dave Jones, Al Stohlman, John Hooper, Lee Rice, Randy Steffens and Harry Adams, just to name a few. With the books, I have collected magizine articles, patterns dating back to the late forties and early fifties, old saddle company catalogs, DVDs (videos) and pictures. I could be said that I am an information junkie. All of these are great references.

I learned more about making saddles by repairing saddles, everything from handmade coustom saddles built by famous makers to mass produced junkers. Studying the different construction techniques will give the prospective saddlemaker a good idea as to what and what not to do. I also have had the opportunity to visit and talk with saddlemakers from all over the country. The ONE thing all makers stress is the mechanics involved with the construction process.

In my opinion, it is more important to become proficient with your tools before starting something as big as a saddle. Practice cutting and skiving with a round knife. The same with edgers, slickers, ect. Know what each tool is used for. Practice hand sewing. Learn how to read the leather. Know how to case leather. You should also know the terminology associated with saddles and saddlemaking. Before starting the saddle or buying a DVD, determine what type of saddle you want to build. Do you want a swell fork or slick fork? Do you want a roper, trail, barrel or cowboy saddle? What type of rigging, skirts, ground seat, seat, ect.....? All of these questions should determine which book or DVD you will look for. Make your decision, obtain the DVD or book, study it over and over and over before starting the saddle. Follow the instruction closely.

I do not think it is a good idea to try to get multiple DVDs when first starting. Build the saddle to the DVD you have you will learn alot. When you finish and want another challenge follow the same process. This is a great site and there are people who will answer the questions you have along the way. If you get a chance to go to one of the leather shows. Whickenburg, Elko, Sheridan, Wichita Falls, Pendleton........ There are always classes and saddlemakers that are a wealth of information.

Good luck.

#24 arbalet12



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Posted 05 October 2010 - 05:04 AM

Very much I wish to buy video on manufacturing a saddle. Help please, prompt where to buy, or the will sell someone. I am in Kazakhstan.

Edited by arbalet12, 05 October 2010 - 05:05 AM.

#25 rktaylor



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Posted 05 March 2014 - 10:38 PM

I know this is an old thread, but I didn't want to start a new one.


Here’s my assessment of saddle making DVDs (at least two of them).  It’s long, but I wanted to make sure you know where I am coming from. Some of it is about the videos and some is about my thought process regarding learning to build a saddle on your own. Comments, criticism, and apathy are welcome.


I had been making some tack and got the grand idea that I wanted to build a saddle. I have spent very little time working on saddles (i.e. repair and deconstruction) and didn’t (still don’t) know much about them. I talked to a few saddle makers in my area. They were polite, but didn’t really have time for me and my grand idea. I can’t say as I blame them. However one saddle maker, Mr. Smithson at Pauls Valley, was very cordial and spent time offering advice and encouragement. I am grateful for his time. I wanted to go to a saddle making school, but I just don’t have the time. I have a full time job and don’t really have an interest in making this a career. However, it could be a nice hobby if I can find a way to pay for it.

So, I bought Stohlman’s volume 1 and 2 and the Dusty Johnson package (DVD, book, patterns). I bought a tree from Batie’s, Herrmann Oak leather, sheep skin, and hardware from Panhandle Leather and Bowden’s. The entire process was an exercise in overconfidence and indecision. Some of the things that I thought would be the hardest were actually fairly easy and vice versa. I learned a lot and built a saddle. It certainly has some mistakes, but I have been riding it anyway. I don’t believe I could have built a saddle with only Mr. Johnson’s DVD. In my opinion the package is a must. While some will disagree with some of his methods, it did get me though the process. I would say the DVD contains the bare minimum of information (maybe a little less). One specific shortcoming is directions for installing the cantle binding. I had to reference the Stohlman books to figure out what to do with the ends under the seat. My assessment is that you get a little bit more than you pay for with the package. It is inexpensive, but there is a lot of information and I guess from my perspective enough to build a saddle. I will also say that Mr. Johnson promptly answered my email questions more than once. That was quite pleasing, given that he only had $80 of my money.


After I was almost done, I found this forum. I appreciate the wealth of information that is freely shared. One piece of advice was to buy Jeremiah Watt’s DVD and gain a whole new perspective on saddle making. I was lucky enough to find a used copy for a discounted price. I prefer to consider myself frugal, not tight. After watching the first segment, I thought WOW. There is a wealth of information shared in this video. There are some commercials, but Mr. Watt is also entertaining. Looking back, I am confident I could have built a saddle with only Mr. Watt’s video. With the knowledge gained from building a saddle, the information in this video is very empowering. Though it is based on a Wade tree, I am confident that I can build a saddle on any tree simply because he goes through making patterns.


There is no doubt that the JW video is much more detailed than the DJ video. However, it is really difficult for me to assess them independently because I had more knowledge when I viewed the Mr. Watt’s video. I definitely gained a new perspective after watching this video. I have to admit that I drilled all the holes in my first saddle (I hope the purists don’t put a bounty on me). However, after watching Mr. Watt’s video, I have a newfound commitment for hand sewing and using an awl. I can’t afford a sewing machine, so everything is hand sewn. I would never have thought it, but I actually think I can sew faster and more accurately with an awl than predrilling the holes. Thus I have justified the purchase of a new awl.


I plan to pick up the Dale Harwood DVD when I find a deal. I am also looking to expand my book library. I would like to have volume 3 of the Stohlman series. But I will probably invest my limited resources in material for a second saddle before I buy more educational material.


Congratulations if you made it this far (unless you just skipped to the end).



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