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About Toadflax

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  1. I've had two sets of letter stamps, from two different retailers and of two different manufacturers, but there were sufficient letters in each set that weren't correctly aligned in the square base that it is virtually impossible to get good alignment when attempting to stamp words, though they would be adequate for spaced out lettering. I started to work on one set with a grinding wheel, but it's going to be a lot of effort to get all the letters aligned correctly. I generally hand carve, but there are occasions when stamped letters are the best option. So, the question is, does anybody know of any suppliers who supply letter stamps that work well out of the box? Thanks Geoff
  2. I do use a cloth to apply it, but it is during the first touch of the cloth onto the leather than the blobbing /streaking occurs. As mentioned previously, it is presumably soaking rapidly into the leather, with marks still remaining after drying. Maybe it's just too much on the cloth, so perhaps needs to be applied much more sparingly. Geoff
  3. Does anybody else get dark streaks with Carnauba Crème? I sometimes find that when applying it, particularly on undyed veg-tan, that a blob of the crème can cause a dark mark where it has sat on the surface, before being spread, even if it is only for the few seconds it takes to spread the crème over the surface of the leather. Any tips on how to avoid this? I'd wondered about lightly dampening the leather, but this seems the wrong thing to be doing when you're just about to apply a water resistant finish. Or maybe thinning the crème for the first application? Thanks Geoff
  4. Thanks for the replies. I'd imagined that I would have to do some work on a new blade, almost always having had to do so before. I guess you might get around the lack of graduation markings by adding them yourself, or using known thickness shims in the gap, or even counting turns of the adjusting screws. I guess there must be something lost for the cheaper price. Most hand splitters I've seen seem to be around 500-600 GBP, but getting one that has a list of around 450 GBP for a sale price of 280 GBP seems worth investigating. Geoff
  5. I see that Tandy UK are doing a good reduction on this item at the moment and wondered if anyone has one /has used one / has any comments. I'm after something primarily for stripping belt ends, having used hand skivers for a few years, but could never justify purchasing a splitter. Price still isn't cheap, but this *looks* a good sturdy machine. Any comments gratefully received. Thanks Geoff
  6. Yes, that's a good video on the basic techniques of making a tankard, with application of the wax by painting it on, though that is time consuming. A better way (and widely used), particularly if you are making them regularly, is to get a large double boiler and fill it with wax, then the whole tankard can be immersed. This is what I do, but you clearly can't do it for the pitch liner, as the double boiler doesn't get hot enough. Geoff
  7. I’ve been proofing my leather drinking vessels with beeswax for some time now, but thought it would be worth trying brewers’ pitch, particularly as this is formally approved as a lining within the EU. I’ve used the dark black stuff available in the UK. First results weren’t too bad, but I wonder if anyone had any tips, as it took a long time to get a reasonable finish, and results weren’t as good as I’d hoped. I had already dipped the tankard in beeswax to harden and finish it, and then poured the molten pitch into the tankard until it was just over ¾ full. I quickly rolled it round so that the pitch coated all of the inside, and then poured out the excess. The finish around the rim wasn’t too good, but I managed to smooth it off using a heated knife. The coating on the inside was fairly even, but with some obvious ‘swirls’ (a bit like the inside of a hollow chocolate Easter egg), but there were a few bubbles in the base layer, which I just couldn’t get out, even after re-heating with a hot air gun, and a blow torch. I saw another pitch lined tankard recently, and that seemed to have a very thin layer on the inside – so much so that the texture of the flesh side of the leather was showing. On mine, the lining is most definitely all pitch. I know some people cut the pitch with beeswax, but I’m not sure where you’d stand in that case regarding the lining being formally approved by EU regulations. The main problem I had was that, despite working quickly, the pitch starts to thicken very rapidly. I'm also wondering whether it would work better on leather that wasn't already impregnated with beeswax - but in that case I'd not get the nice polished hard finish that I get with the wax (particulary good to harden up the handle) unless I subsequently painted beeswax onto the outside. Thanks Geoff
  8. After using an overstitch wheel for a number of years, I got myself an English pricking iron, No 6, but was surprised at how wide the teeth were on it – must be close on ¼". The marks it makes are noticeably wider than the awl so, once stitching is finished, the ends of the mark still show in the leather at the end of each stitch. As pointed out elsewhere, these could perhaps be polished out, but that is likely to alter the surface texture of that portion of the leather (and it adds another operation, which shouldn't really be required). I've seen a few threads on this, and it seems that some irons have wide teeth, some have narrow and the only real option for this iron would be to grind it down to a narrower width if I want to avoid the marks. So why are they made with such wide teeth? Geoff
  9. I use a small artist's paintbrush - takes a while but you can *almost* guarantee not to get dye on the front of the belt. I found that the little wool daubers don't give a clean enough edge. I'd prefer not to have to dye the edges if possible, but for pre-dyed (e.g. bridle leather) where the dye doesn't penetrate all the way through the leather, I'd say you've really got to dye the edge. Even a well burnished undyed edge will still have a narrow line of undyed leather showing all along the edge. Shame that Fiebings have apparently stopped doing edge dye. I found the black really good - very good penetration along the cut edge, with no seepage onto the front. Pro-oil dyes are just that little bit thicker, so don't flow quite so well. Geoff
  10. Well, perhaps I'm going a bit too far saying that, but for me it's the worst bit about belt making. I've tried various mechanical methods (slicking wheel in an electric drill, wooden dowel grooved with a round file in an electric drill), different finishes (gum trag, beeswax, spit, diluted PVA glue), different burnishing tools (wood, cloth, antler, bone) but in the end I always come back to gum trag, a bone folder, and lots of elbow grease, because that's what gives me the finish I like – the process is very tactile – you just get a feel of when its ready, something I don't get with en electric drill. Only thing with it is that it can take me up to an hour to burnish the 8 feet or so of edge that a typical belt has (depending on how tired my arm gets!) and that's when I get to thinking "is there a better way?" I clamp the belt in my sewing clam, so can only do about 4-5" at a time – but that's generally plenty enough to do in one go to make sure that the moisture and friction are right. Just interested to know what other people do… Geoff
  11. FWIW, the problem with the wooden strap cutter seems to be with one particular piece of fairly hard leather. Despite stropping the blade and cranking the locking screw, the leather is 'dragging' the arm of the cutter so the strap gets wider the further you cut - not good! Other than this, the cutter works very well on other bits of leather - certainly up to 1.25" width straps. I suspect that the torque on the arm from wider straps /harder leather is causing the blade to angle out slightly, and drag the arm with it at the cut progresses. Seems to tally with what others have said - wooden cutter for narrower straps, up to draw gauge for middle widths, and plough gauge for wider ones. But you've got to REALLY want a plough gauge to spend that sort of money! After a frustrating time wasting a strap width of expensive leather, I just ended up scribing lines and using the round knife - which was a lot easier than I'd expected. It's slower, but does produce a very good clean straight edge, even on a 60" strap. However, Tandy have a sale on at present, certainly in the UK, and you can get the Craftool draw gauge for £23.39 - down from normal price of £37.43. Will be interesting to see how well this copes. Geoff
  12. Yes - you can by a lot of replacement blades for the price of a plough gauge! I've been having reasonable results now with sharpening the blades (held in a pair of pliers) on a Fallkniven DC4 stone. I'll have a think on pushing the blade up as you describe. Geoff
  13. Thanks - I've got some of that on order too. Geoff
  14. Thanks - that's very useful, though I'm not too sure what you mean by the paragon shaped blades. The only ones I've seen for the wooden strap cutters are the ones a bit like half a razor blade. I don't suppose you have a link or picture to show what you mean? Thanks Geoff
  15. Great minds think alike! I was just seeking out some lacquer to apply to the existing buckles. Geoff