Big Sioux Saddlery

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About Big Sioux Saddlery

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Profile Information

  • Location
    South Dakota
  • Interests
    Using and farming with Draft Horses

LW Info

  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Harness and Saddlery
  • Interested in learning about
    Anything that will make my job easier and faster
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  1. Landis Splitter - leather catching on knife

    There is no fixing the splitter. I'll give you $200 for it and you can double your money and still have the Champion.
  2. Historically correct Western chaps

    You won't be disappointed! "Packing Iron" is another one I should have mentioned if you do any reproductions of gun leather. I can look at those two books for hours!
  3. Historically correct Western chaps

    The absolutely best resource that I know of for pictures of original cowboy gear is the book titled "Cowboys and The Trappings of the Old West". I don't know if it is still in print but it has hundreds of pictures of all cowboy gear including chaps, saddles, and gun leather.
  4. Maintenance/ Reliability in General of Leather Sewing machines

    I agree with what has been said so far. There is enough of a learning curve with learning to sew leather on a machine without adding machine issues to the mix. Like Wiz, I have only bought one of my machines brand new, and it is also a Cowboy 4500. I've had a few issues, nothing that I couldn't work out myself with a little thought and trial and error, BUT I also have 25 yrs of experience sewing, maintaining and troubleshooting these heavy stitchers. I am far from being a mechanic, but I am more mechanical than an average woman. My very first machine was an American Straight Needle. It was endless frustration. I got lucky with the next machine I bought, a Landis One, and it did everything I needed it to do, and did it well, for years. I picked up a couple more Landis One's through the years, but wanted to upgrade to a "better" machine. I bought a Randall, which pulls a stitch superior to anything else in existence. But it was a finicky, fickle, temperamental machine that had some serious preexisting issues. When it was right, it was perfect, but when it was wrong, it was a nightmare. I have since acquired a Union Lock, Landis 3 and 16, a Ferdinand Bull, the Cowboy 4500, and a couple lighter machines. Of all of them, the Cowboy has caused the least amount of downtime, with the exception of the Landis 1's. The Cowboy is more versatile however and will sew things you can't sew on a 1. I don't feel that you could go wrong with buying any one of the new 441 clones from a US dealer.
  5. working in latigo

    Generally speaking, latigo is NOT a refined leather. English bridle leather may be a better choice for fine personal leather goods.
  6. Safety beveler vs a spokeshave

    Come to think of it, all the skivers I've had that worked were black, and none were CSO. While those tools may be great for some things, they won't work for scraping ground seats in saddles.
  7. Lining Leather

    The liners for the halters aren't quite as critical. Typically people don't turn their horses out with award halters on, and they take the halters off to work their horses, so sweat resistance isn't as much of an issue. You can make a lot better use of small acrap with halters than with the breastcollars. I'm fairly picky about the breastcollar liners, no wrinkly, flanky stuff, and even if I don't split it, I run it backwards through my splitter to firm it up and take the stretch out. I MIGHT get two sets of liners out of a belly. I have even used some scraps of English bridle to line the halters with, and don't see why it wouldn't work for breastcollars either if that's what you'd happen to have on hand.
  8. Lining Leather

    Yes, I have lined many breastcollars with russet harness in the last year. It should hold up well and be fairly sweat resistant, more so than just regular strap/tooling leather. The harness leather is easier to get a nice finished edge on than latigo. I use 9/11 HO Russet for the bodies, and generally cut the liners from the belly and split them down just a hair.
  9. Tell me about knots

    Although I sew my skirts on a machine, I would do no different if sewing them by hand. I start on the top line of the skirts where it will be hidden from sight and not likely to unravel from wear. I just sew all the way around and sew over the first 3 or so stitches when I end. No knot needed, and I have never ever had any come un-sewed. To thread your needles, put the thread through the eye, then run the needle through the thread a couple times and pull. Sounds harder than it is. Get Al Stohlman's book on how to hand sew leather. It will serve you well. There are also stitching horse plans in there. My brother made me one over 25 years ago and I still prefer it over the original ones that I have since accumulated.
  10. What are fancy bellies good for?

    Yeah, why is it that they expect our scrap to be free to them??! Now I tell them that if I can click a saddle button out of it, it isn't scrap. And what IS scrap, goes in the wood stove in the winter, trash in the summer. A couple weeks ago, I had two pallets full of cattle lick tubs, which were full of old junk harness parts, worn out stirrup leathers, "scrap", and other garbage. Several people couldn't believe I was throwing away what appeared to them to be "lots of good leather". One guy actually took a tub full of worn out stirrup leathers. I offered him more, and he would have taken it, but his truck box was full by that time. Less to haul to the dump!
  11. Lining a Headstall

    Personally, for working headstalls, I prefer a single, heavy layer of russet harness leather. In my experience, a headstall made from this will outlast a doubled and stitched headstall. A headstall that is frequently adjusted, for example a horse trainer may use that headstall on multiple horses in a day, the leather will crack between the buckle holes and the stitch holes. There just isn't much grain left between the holes after it's all stitched up an the holes are punched. If you are set on lining it, I would use a top layer of 7/8 and a liner of 6/7. Russet harness is a good choice for your top layer, and you may either line it with that as well, or latigo. I've seen equine equipment lined with so-called oil-tan leather, which is an oily chrome tan, and the liner eventually curls at the edges and shrinks and cracks.
  12. What are fancy bellies good for?

    Better leather is better leather, no matter what part of the hide it comes from. Bellies can be used for some things; linings for doubled and stitched items, swell covers for saddles, plugs for saddle skirts, and many, many other things. No doubt, due to the nature of the work in some facets of leatherworking, the bellies can be waste. It just depends on what an individual, or company, is making. I rarely ever buy backs. At times, I do end up with a lot of extra bellies, but eventually a project or production run comes up in which I can utilize them. For awhile, I had a lot of latigo bellies around. Since most of my latigo gets cut up into straps no more than 6 or 7 ft long, there is a lot of waste to a side, if I'm not making lined items to utilize the bellies as liners. Then, last year, in a little over a year's time, I made between 60 and 70 breastcollars. Not only did I use up all my latigo bellies, I had to start thinking about something else to line the breastcollars with, because I was not using enough latigo to provide the bellies for my liners. I started using russet harness bellies for liners, as I had generated quite a few of those, and they made excellent liners. If a person does enough of a variety of work, you can find a use for most parts of the hide. If a person is making only belts, or only holsters, then yes, bellies would be waste. Also, if a person was wanting to try a certain type of leather, but didn't want to buy a whole side, a belly would be an inexpensive way to see what that particular leather is like.
  13. Infestations ..

    Well who DOES?! Exactly why I am single, I got tired of someone else spending my money because he couldn't handle his own, and then wanting to pick a fight in the middle of the night wondering what happens to HIS money. Man, I just don't miss those days at all!
  14. where can i buy rawhide needed to make a reata

    You are welcome. That is one of the great things about living in cattle country, or knowing someone that does. . . It's easy to get hides. Most of these range cows that die get left for the coyotes, whereas in more populated country, the rendering truck gets them before anyone has a chance to make use of the hide. Good luck, and post your results if you take on the project.
  15. where can i buy rawhide needed to make a reata

    Your best bet is to find someone who runs a bunch of cows and ask him to let you know when he loses a cow. The best hides seem to come from a thin, old cow that wastes away. I've gotten some like that and they are way better than anything off a fat steer that I've gotten from the locker when I butcher. They cut up slick and smooth and are good solid hide. I've got two in my freezer that I need to process when I get the time. Commercially, there are guys that sell reata string but since I've usually had access to as much hide as I need, I haven't purchased rawhide in years. A lot of these guys may not be on the internet or even have access to it. Granted, I don't braid reatas, but the string that I think would make a good one has come from the thin cows. I actually find processing a hide kind of enjoyable, maybe because it's something different than I do every day and gives me a real sense of accomplishment.