Steven Kelley

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About Steven Kelley

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  1. Decided to keep the machine. It's just too good to part with.
  2. This machine is still available.
  3. I dip dye everything, but I have had limited luck air brushing the pro oil, with just a very light coat, but still had the blotchy spots 50% of the time. The Angelus dyes are night and day better at giving an even color regardless of whether you dye first of dye after forming, at least in my experience.
  4. I've had the same issue using Fiebing's Pro Oil brown's. The Fiebing's Pro oil will penetrate completely through the leather very quickly. The leather around the gun will stretch and/or compress during molding. It seems like the movement causes the dye discoloration, since there is so much dye in the leather. I've had much better luck using Angelus dyes. They do not penetrate as deeply, if you just give them a quick dip. Since there isn't as much dye in the leather, it does not discolor under compression/stretching. At least that's my take on the problem. I have not had any issue since switching to Angelus from Fiebing's Pro oil. I still use the pro oil for black, but nothing else.
  5. I had the same issue with Fiebing's Pro Oil dyes, regardless of whether I dyed the leather before or after molding/boning. The Pro Oil dyes penetrate much deeper into the leather than Angelus dyes, which I use now. During the molding process, especially if you are using a press, some areas of the leather are stretched, while others are compressed. These areas are where you will see the dark patches. I had lots of issues with browns, so much so that I changed to Angelus dyes. The Angelus dyes just penetrate the surface and I don't have any of the color issues with them. Applying some neatsfoot oil after dying will help even out the color, but it will also darken the entire piece a bit, which might not be what you want. The only way I found that I could use any shade of brown in Fiebing's Pro Oil is to NOT use a press to mold. If I mold lightly by hand, I MIGHT be able to dip dye without the issue. If I mold by hand then airbrush the dye, I had no issue at all, other than it taking a lot more time.
  6. Yes. I've had pieces that soak up water almost as fast as cowhide and some pieces that would take several minutes to soak up enough to mold.
  7. I normally have to soak horse about 30 - 45 seconds. Yes, you can dry it in an oven the same as cowhide.
  8. I'm not sure how many of these lawsuits would end up in a jury trial, but I would be very skeptical of anything remotely based on "common sense" coming from one. I was fortunate enough to serve on a grand jury (2 days a week for 4 months) a couple of years ago. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. I know a grand jury and a civil law suit are two completely different things, but just seeing how some of my fellow jurors reacted to any case involving a gun, and their lack of knowledge of guns, gun safety, common sense gun handling, or just common sense in general, I would not want to be a participant in a trial where I could be found negligent because of someone else's bad judgement and or stupidity. You never know how people that could be on a jury will react to a case involving a gun or gun related product. Especially if they hear a sob story presented by a money hungry lawyer. Now I could hire a really good (and really expensive) lawyer to represent me, and hopefully keep me from being found liable, but that might come at a very high price. I don't sell enough holsters or make enough money to cover that type of expense. The LLC route mentioned earlier is not a bad idea. I have been thinking pretty seriously about converting my business to a LLC. Will that protect me 100%? Probably not, but it is one more layer of protection that might be nice to have. I have liabiility insurance, which is another layer of protection. Liability insurance AND being an LLC might be a good way to go. Not 100% bullet proof, so to speak, but moreso than nothing at all. Setting up an LLC looks fairly simple and not that expensive. It shouldn't really change your taxation much, if at all. Looking at LegalZoom.com, setting on up in AZ, including the state fees, would be under $300, which doesn't seem too bad. LegalZoom charges $99 for their work, which also seems reasonable. I could spend 3 - 4 hours studying what papers to file, downloading forms, filling out forms, mailing in forms, etc, or I could make 2 - 3 holsters in that time and pay for the entire process. Seems like a no brainer to me. As a side note, I have a friend with rental houses. He had a tenant 3 years ago that fell behind on rent. The tenant was never sent an eviction notice. The tenant decided to move out and left the place a wreck. My friend did not return his deposit. The tenant was a legal student and decided to sue my friend for the $200 deposit. My friend fought the lawsuit. The case has gone round and round in the AZ legal system. My friend has a lawyer representing him. He has spent over $15,000 on legal fees to date, and the case is not close to being over yet. All over a $200 deposit. It's crazy. He's fighting the guy just on principle now. He doesn't even care how much it costs. He has lots of money though. I don't. I couldn't afford something like that. His fight is over a $200 depost. Can you imagine what a case about a firearm and firearm related item could turn into? I would hate to think about it. Guns make some people crazy. I would hate to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit where some crazies get to decide my fate, or liability. Get all the protection you can afford. Hopefully you won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you have it.
  9. If I remember correctly it's about $300 a year.
  10. Yes, I have insurance. Purchased it through State Farm, where I have my auto and homeowner's. I believe it's either $1 million or $2 million liability and it's fairly inexpensive.
  11. I'll second Goliger. Very nice leather and usually have a good selection in stock.
  12. I use a 12x12x1/2" steel plate on the bottom. It isn't welded to the frame. I lay a plastic cutting board on top of that. Another steel plate on top of the die. The shop press comes with a couple of plates which would also work as the top plate above the die. I used one of those for quite a while until I found an 8x12x1/2" plate. I used a 20% coupon for Harbor Freight and ended up paying less than $300 for the press and air/hydraulic jack. I've used it for about 2 years and have never had an issue. The opening in the frame is a bit narrow, so you can just roll out a side and feed it in. You'll have to cut the leather into strips so they will fit in the press, which can cause a little bit of leather waste. With the room I had available, and the money I wanted to spend, it's perfect. I've purchased all my dies from Heather at Texas Custom Dies and they are great to work with.
  13. I use a 20 ton shop press from harbor freight.....http://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-shop-press-32879.html#.Uybu1c62yE8 and replaced the hand operated bottle jack with an air over hydraulic model.......http://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-air-over-hydraulic-jack-95553.html#.UybvUM62yE8 Just plug the jack into an air compressor and it cuts like a dream.
  14. Clicker dies are one of the best think I ever invested in. They run from $50 - $75 each and really make quick work of cutting leather. Another good thing is the pieces are all exactly the same size, so sanding and finishing the edges is much faster as well. Making them yourself is a waste of time. Cut out a pattern from thick paper and send it to a pro, such as Texas Custom Dies. I have quite a few from them and they are all perfect. You can have a die for each patter/gun combo, or you can have one pattern that will work for several. For instance, I'm only making holsters for 1911's at the moment. I have one die to fit each of my holster models. If I'm making the holster for a 4.25" 1911, I just trim the die cut pieces of leather to the correct length. I waste a little leather to not buy a bunch of dies, basically. So you might be able to get by with less dies than you think. At a minimum, buy a few dies for you highest volume models as a start. Once you start using them, you'll have a hard time cutting leather by hand again. On edging, I do a "pre-burnishing/forming" step during the molding process. I have a multi grooved burnishing tool that fits in a drill press. After dipping the holster in water, and before molding, I run the edges along the burnishing tool. This is just to smooth out the fibers and give the edges a nice round shape. Since the leather is soaked, it is extremely easy and fast. Then I mold and dry. When I get to the edge finishing step, the edges just need a quick final burnish and wax, and they are done. If I didn't do that initial pre-burnish/forming step, it would take a lot longer to get the edges finished. How do you dye? Dipping is about as fast as it gets. I generally dip dye after molding. If a customer wants a certain color stitching, or something else that prevents that, I'll dye the piece before molding. I have gallon buckets of each dye color and just do a quick dip as soon as the molded holster comes out of the hot box, while it's still warm. They go on a drying rack overnight, then straight into an acrylic bucket the next morning. Dipping everything saves a lot of time, if that fits your needs. Pricing. If you are doing this as a business, do what benefits your business. If competitors are selling similar holsters for twice as much as you are, then you need to get more competitive on pricing. I'm not talking about gouging your customers, but as a "business", you need to find out what the market will support and get your prices in line with that. Starting out with low pricing is a great way to get your name out there and get the business started. Once you get overloaded, you can gradually increase your prices to get more in line with the segment of the market you want to compete in. Hire an apprentice. Let them do some of the grunt work (so to speak). If you can increase your volume and not have to work more hours yourself, that can lead to more income. A lot of people start holster making as a hobby, and turn it into a business, but don't change their "hobby" mentality. They want to do everything for everybody and charge way less than what their time/product is worth. You can have a "business" mentality and still offer a great product at a fair price, along with great customer service.