bruce johnson

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About bruce johnson

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    Saddlery & Tack Moderator
  • Birthday 06/15/1960

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    Oakdale, CA

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  1. Self inflicted wounds

    Everytime I did a tool related injury the first thing I said was a bad word. The second thing I said to myself was "Well, you could sure see that coming dumba**!". Don't shove leather into a dull draw gauge blade, the draw gauge will stick into your knuckle pretty far when the leather edge finally pops through. Pull the blade into the leather or make a knife knick if it is really hard leather. If the blade is dull - address that first. Don't pop your bare hand down on the bench clamp to loosen your leather while your draw gauge blade is still sticking up in a short cut. The sharp top point that serves pretty much NO purpose will bury right into your palm. Be careful of that point or do like several old guys did - round off and blunt that top point. You can have one of the safest designed splitters ever, the blade edge right there between two rollers. You sharpen the blade and screw it back in place. You grab that stubby screwdriver right there, not the longer one you usually use. About then you drag a ring finger over the edge and wonder where the hell all that blood is coming from. You notice a dime on the bottom roller and realize it is your fingertip and not spending coin. Watch all of your fingers around blades and use the proper tools not the closest tools. You don't want to be finishing up a saddle in flipflops. You will be stringing on conchos. You set the string bleeder down and watch it roll off the edge of the bench. In slow motion "real time" it does quarter turn in midair to land perfectly vertical in the top of your foot. Right there in that big vein like a lawn dart. When you pull it out you realize why the tool is called a bleeder. You watched the whole thing happen and didn't react to move your barefoot. It is a mesmerizing experience until you realize you are the target. From my old tool mentor, God rest his soul. He witnessed this repeatedly. People have some inborne desire to always check the sharpness of someone else's knife edges by running their thumb over it. Without asking, they just pick up knives and check them. If it is really dull and you can push on it, you will embarass him. If it is really sharp and you slice yourself, you bleed all over another person's shop and the embarasses you. Don't be that person. Just drink their coffee,njoy the comradierie and admire the knives visually. Murphy's Law - the further you are from the bandaids - the more the cut will bleed. Keep them everywhere to ward off the self inflicted wound juju.
  2. What do you cut your leather on?

    I like the self healing mats for rotary cutters. High density polyethylene for knives. HDPE is hard enough to not let the edge dig in, but forgiving to an edge. The blade skates over it and doesn't dig in. That can be an issue with tight turns on softer plastic and mats. It is easy to twist the point off a round knife if the board is soft enough to let the blade dig in. I bought a 4x8 sheet and cut it down to fit my cutting table. I used it a good 8 or 9 years of hard use and it still was good. When I switched gears and concentrated on leather tools and not leatherwork per se, I cut it into smaller pieces to test knives in the tool shop and gave away a few pieces. My wife retired and first thing she did was kick me and the tools out of "her leather working shop". Second thing she did was to drive over to TAP plastics and have them cut a new piece of 3/8" HDPE to cover the cutting table again.
  3. best punching board for leather

    I agree with the end grain wood as a best surface. Another good choice is the poundo board, which I believe may be neolite sole material. It can have a fairly short lifespan and punches can go through it. My other favorite is low density polyethylene (LDPE). It is softer than the HDPE i like to cut on. The LDPE is softer and edges can penetrate without damage. HDPE is too brittle, can fracture, and can turn an edge on some finely sharpened punches.
  4. Rose Round knife! New! (To me!)

    Nice blade - ok handle. Here is my take on the old "patina vs. restoration" discussion. Unless you are hanging it up to look at, get it off. The old single name makers (J English, Crawford, et al) have collectible value as a display pieces. Light patina and original are a plus. Remove and arrest the rust and call it good. Rose knives were production type knives and lots of them out there. I think their value is more as a user. First thing I would do is get the curl of metal off the ferrule. It isn't adding any value and is a detractant to use. For the metal I start with rust removal. I might use a rust chelator solution like EvapoRust or MetalRescue. Usually I am batching knives to work them and put them in my blast cabinet to remove the rust , especially in the name stamped areas. Either way works. Then I go to a wire wheel and knock off everything loose. Before I got the cabinet and variable speed knife grinder I would go through the grits with papers or steels wool to clean the surface everywhere, not just the cutting edge. It can be eye opening at the point as the "patina" starts coming off as a nice pumpkin orange color - rust. What some people call patina, I call polished burnished rust. I get it down to a near mirror finish. I'm going to say right here that there may be some shallower pits you may not be able to totally rub or grind out without making divots. I get to where 99% of them are gone and call it good. Some knives are too far gone to get that good, and some will clean up with no pits left. Rose knives are a little more notorious for pitting. You've already found out the hardness of the steel stropping the burr off. These and the older English&Huber knives are the hardest I've dealt with. You get an edge on them and they'll hold it a good long time. The handle has been burned at some point. I would go through a few grits of sandpaper to clean it up, smooth it up, and knock the black off the burned area. You probalby won't get it totally even and symmetrical but it'll be better. Some Rose knife handles have a really pretty grain pattern and others are plain Jane. These knives take a bunch of time. On average by hand I used to have about 8 hours total in a Rose knife. I thought I was really slow. I was visiting Keith Pommer several years ago and remarked about a nice Rose he had. He told me he had 7 hours in it and probably another hour left. I didn't feel so bad.
  5. tree fit question

    There are some old threads on the forum here discussing this issue. It may be 5-7 years ago. At the time Rod Nikkel was still making trees and Denise had done quite a lot of studies about pressure, bridging, fitting most horses, etc. The room to round up issue was addressed and Here is what I believe the consensus came to - At one point in the stride the back may round up into that area but generally the whole musculature is lifting through out the stride. To allow a space for one group of muscles to round into at the expense of increased local pressure on the rest of the supporting muscles doesn't pan out. You mentioned cowhorses and a whole different ball game than a walk trot lope events. Horses have to adjust their stride, stop hard, turn short and fast, stretch out, shorten up run hard slow up and rate. Rounding up throughout all of that is not generally the case. I am attaching a picture I took back then. This picture has been around a bit. Denise and Rod may have used on their website. The test monkey in the picture is cowhorse bred and might have been 7 years old then. The customer had ordered this tree brought it to be built on. The tree was from a production tree maker and popular with some of the cutting and cowhorse saddle makers. I did as much lifting tricks I could from the ground and could never get him to lift his belly enough to make any difference. I passed on using that tree.
  6. The Outlaw has finally Struck....

    Bikermutt, Thank you for the video link!! I have zero experience with this new version but quite a lot of experience with a cast iron Boss. I paid off a ton of medical debt with one. Basically it would sew whatever I could cram under the foot. I sewed corner leathers onto 1" felt saddle blankets, 4 layers of skirting for a few odd ball projects, and some other stuff that would be an issue for most other machines. Coincidentally I talked yesterday with a saddle maker who has a ton of experience with old stitchers who had a Boss with a lower serial number than mine and his experience with the Boss matched mine. The cast iron ones were good once they got the early bugs worked out. Simple to use, easy to control, and did a pretty decent stitch. A Boss then was around $1500, a hundred or so more got a few feet and accessories. At that time, a powered machine with any sort of capacity was either a used needle and awl machine that you took your chances with ($1500-5000) or you paid $5-6K for a new closed needle machine. (I did that later too). This was before Artisan brought out the short arm clone and priced them under $2000K and started the low price machine ball rolling. It was before Servo motors too. You "kids" don't know how good you have it now. Addressing some of the concerns above regarding use. After a few uses I set mine up on a lower table and sat on a stool up a little higher so my hand was no higher than my shoulder. That reduced quite a bit of the user fatigue.Easy to learn to sew on and you control the speed. After about 5 minutes you have the "stroke" down and it becomes muscle memory. My first wife was making some things while she was going through Chemo treatments and she sewed at her speed. My son was sewing spur straps by the box when he was thirteen. After my wife died and Rundi I started dating, Rundi sewed belts on some of our "dates" when I had wholesale orders to get out. User friendly. It sounds like from what Bob wrote, this Outlaw has addressed some of the "improvements" that have plagued the later version of the Boss. I've got a relative who does some leather work and handsews. He needs to step it up - something portable and I've been sort of looking for a good used cast iron Boss for a gift. Pretty sure I just switched trails and will be thinking pretty hard about one of these Outlaws for that price.
  7. Weaver Easy Edger

    The blades can be resharpened. There are 12 edges to use. Weavers offer a resharpening service for them once you've gone through them. They are worth the $$$ if you are doing a lot of strap edging. There are two versions one does two edges and one does all four edges. I just sold two of the smaller top edge versions at the Sheridan show. They will do two top edges at a pass, flip the piece over and pull through again to do the bottom edges. Handy dandy.
  8. Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show...

    We will be there - the now semi-famous free rulers, stickers, what's been described as a pretty good to excellent candy dish, and some stuff to sell on a few tables.
  9. Sharpening A Splitter Blade - Am I Doing This Right?

    Here you go -
  10. Screws for Blanchard Paris Gauge

    I have not found replacement screws with that type of head either. On some the head is actually threaded onto the shaft of the screw. I found this when the head screwed right off a few jammed screws. I have also found at least 2 or 3 different threads in equivalent screws on different Blanchard ploughs. I've got about 25 or 30 Blanchards in the back shop right now with various problems with broken or stripped screws. When I get to them, plans are to redrill and tap for modern screws.
  11. There are a lot of hotels in Prescott so while the host hotel may sold out - Prescott and Prescott Valley have rooms. Sheridan usually sells out pretty much the town.
  12. Here's my take - both shows are pretty similar. Prescott is maybe in it's 5th year and Sheridan is coming up something like 26th. The same major vendors at both but a few more vendors at Sheridan. Pretty similar core of classes at both shows. Many of the instructors do classes at both shows, and some are the same classes at both shows. Prescott attendance is a bit smaller than Sheridan but still a good one and growing. It has been the most successful venue other than Sheridan that the journal has sponsored shows at. The Prescott venue is tighter - most of the classes are right there and there are areas to sit and socialize outside of the lounge or restaurant. Sheridan is bigger and classes are more spread out - some are at the college and not really a gathering spot at the hotel other than the lounge or restaurant. At Sheridan KIng's sponsor a party the Thursday before and it is a good time. Prescott is smaller and the journal sponsors a reception Thursday night as well. If you haven't been to any shows before, either one would be a good pick.
  13. Good Rosette Stamps that won't break the bank?

    It is going to be hard to find a decent handled rosette punch under $60. once in a while a clicker concho punch shows up for under $60.
  14. splitter blade sharpening

    I have had people send pictures of blades or blades themselves done by professional shops with deep wavey edges and divots. some have severe grit marks - they never got past about 80 grit. some are longer front to back one end vs the other by a large amount. A few of these don't have enough material left to salvage the blade. The best options for a local service would be one who is proficient with doing wood plane blades. Things to check on an as-found blade are fairly straight edge and minimal chips at the cutting edge area (chips at the very tips don't concern me as much)
  15. splitter blade sharpening

    If you REALLY trust your local general sharpening service, or even the local knife sharpening service try them. Also have a back up blade just in case. I have seen some real basket case pictures from shops that don't understand these. There are a few of us that do them. Art Van Hecke does blades. Right now I am getting ready for the Prescott show and wont't have a slot open until I am back after March 8th. Once I am back, I ask people to contact me first but I can usually do them on an overnight turnaround. Unless a blade is really bad - I am at $15-20 average plus $8 return shipping by small flat rate box priority mail.