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
  • How did you find

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  1. Get used to that if you stay in this craft. Been doing this for 40 years, 25 of that as a business, and it never does end. The only difference between now and in the beginning, is that now I know it DOESN'T end. Have fun and good luck!
  2. Did you use W & C's Traditional Harness or Show harness for this? Whatever it is, I like the look of it. I don't think I've ever used a side of their russet, although I've used a lot of their black. I'm toying with the idea of ordering some of W & C's burgundy Harness, as HO has stopped producing their Rosewood, which I thought was absolutely the prettiest leather. I like the cart buckles on the back pockets of the briefcase.
  3. I've recently tried using Weaver's clear Tuff Kote, in place of Resolene. So far, I like it better than anything else I've tried, which includes RTC, Neat Lac, Resolene, Tan Kote, Bag Kote, and years ago, Super Shene. A couple days ago, I used it as a resist under some Tandy Antique gel stain, and was very pleased with the results. However, I haven't put a final finish on yet, so there's still time for a disaster:-) I did use it on a dark saddle as a top finish and didn't have too much trouble. Applied with sheepskin, about anything seems to lift some antique. I'd had both the clear Tuff Kote and the Tandy stain around for I don't remember how long and kind of forgot I had them. The Tandy stain was a color I needed for this specific project. I'm sure Tuff Kote is an acrylic, but it doesn't smell anything like Resolene. I've been using the black Tuff Kote for years as an edge finish for black harness and also as a top coat, if I use one at all. I like it better than the other harness dressings I've tried. More often than not, I don't top coat finished black harness, as in a year or two it all flakes off due to the high wax and oil content in the harness leather. Then the customers freak out because "the finish is peeling off my harness". Anyway, I digress. Anyone else tried the Tuff Kote?
  4. I always thought that Resolene and Supersheen were the same thing, just different brands. I have nothing to add to the above, but I would sure go through all the steps on a practice piece. After all these years, I STILL do not have the perfect finish sequence/combination figured out. What works on some things is a train wreck on others. Nothing pisses me off more than putting days into a project and ruining it with a poor job of finishing. Makes for a bad day.
  5. Josh that looks really nice, what are you using for a beader?
  6. Yes James, you are correct in thinking brass would wear faster, but I do have a collar with a stainless fastener that is worn bad enough to fall open also. I guess if you use any of them long enough, they'll wear. I'd be interested to hear if anyone that's been using them for a time on bag and case work have seen this. Just out of curiosity I was wondering how long this fastener has been around. I have a fairly old, very used collar that has this fastener made from steel. I searched some for patents, but didn't find anything on this one. I did find collar fasteners that were patented in the late 1800's that I have never seen on a collar.
  7. No, almost none, because the hames hold the collar together when it's on the horse. I think it's just the repeated fastening and unfastening that causes the wear. On one that's worn bad enough to come apart on it's own, all you have to do is pick the collar up and it unhooks and the collar falls open. Nevertheless, they're pretty popular and many people request that fastener on their collars as opposed to a buckle and billet. They are easy enough to replace IF some genius didn't rivet them to the straps holding them on. They are made to be adjustable and do not need to be riveted or sewn to the straps holding them on the collar. However, on bags or cases, I realize that it doesn't look as neat if they aren't sewn.
  8. When used on horse collars, those latches will wear to the point that they fall open on their own, and the wear isn't necessarily visible. There just comes a point where they don't stay fastened as well.
  9. Nobody seems to want to be the first, so I'm going to dive in. First of all, if you want to build saddles for others, I'd suggest you either get some instruction from an experienced, good saddlemaker, and/or expand your book/video library. A good place to start is the Stohlman books. Harry Adams' book gives some good practical advice on making patterns. Jeremiah's videos offer a lot of good advice. There is also information in all of those that I don't agree with or follow. That is something you will decide for yourself as you progress. One thing that happens, though, when starting out, is if you get TOO MUCH conflicting information, it's more confusing than helpful. Nearly all the books and videos out there will give you SOMETHING beneficial, but none of them give you everything. Stohlman's books will go the furthest toward helping you build a saddle that looks and rides good. There are things they do that I don't agree with, but if you follow them through the entire process, they don't leave many unanswered questions. I'm pretty sure I know the video and book you started with, based on the style of ground seat. I never have been able to understand how anyone, male or female, could stand to ride a saddle with a seat like that. You already stated that it has more rise than you'd like, so at least you are recognizing that changes need to be made. The first thing that really stands out to me, and you mentioned, is the fit of the jockeys, and the skirts. Part of that is the skirts don't appear to have blocked to the tree. This is visible not only at the rear, but the front as well, and you have not finished opening up the gullet by nailing the skirts to the gullet. Study well-made, finished saddles and you will see what I mean. It also looks like you didn't spike your jockeys down tight during final installation. They may need more trimming/fitting when you do this, but the process of spiking them down will help pull them tight against the skirts, as well as the cantle back. Getting a good fit on the jockeys for me is a time consuming process, and I still struggle with finding a better and faster way to get a good fit. As you mentioned, the skirts could be longer. Being able to make your own patterns for any style and size of saddle is part of the long learning process of building saddles. Better instruction, as well as experience, will help you with this. Your front rigging looks set back further than 7/8ths, and rigging position is a very subjective subject, or at least everyone has an opinion on where they like them set. The rear rigging is also set a little further back than I normally place them. Calf ropers want them back further than most others. Typically if the leading edge is about even with the point of the cantle, I feel that is about right. The cut of the top of the front ear of the front seat jockeys is too high. I don't like to see it higher than the top line of the skirts, and preferably a bit below it. Again, they don't look pulled in tight to the tree. Cantle bindings are tough. It took me years before I was happy with the way mine looked, and my rawhide bindings I'm still not always perfectly happy with. Your binding leather looks way too heavy. Either use lighter leather or do more skiving. Just that alone will make it easier to form at the ear. Don't be afraid to spend some time getting a good fit. Moisture content is important, just like swell covers. Too wet and it doesn't mold as well. Your stitching, from what I can see, looks better than about my first 5 saddles. I can't see it very well, but it looks fairly straight and evenly spaced for a first attempt. You swell cover welts don't look bad for a first attempt. When trimming a single welt, a tool called an English edger (I think) works well. It's kind of like a French edger, except the bottom is concave and there is curve to the blade. To my knowledge, they aren't made anymore, so they are expensive and you'll have to search to find them. It will leave a nicer profile to the trimmed welt: instead of being flat, it will have a slightly rounded finished surface. The turned-under front could have used more skiving. I can see a lump through the cover where the edge of the leather is. A common mistake is to not extend the front far enough ahead, but yours does come out past the rim of the fork. Some people may not like that look and prefer it back further, but I do like it out a bit. If you spiked the cover down tighter, you would get a tighter fit at the front. As far as the horn cover, yes it's not centered, but I would also like to see a little smoother overall look to it. I prefer a little bit of a "dome" to the cap, and this is determined when installing your filler. Lighter leather can be used here too, and that will help. The edges could be finished up a little more, which will add to a nicer finished look. A heavier edger as well as sanding and truing up your edges, and then rubbing like heck to get a burnish, will do a lot. In fact, better edgers and more burnishing on all the saddle parts will make you more pleased with the results. These are just a few things that really stand out as first glance. They are all very common beginning pitfalls, and there are more "pickier" things that I could point out, but I don't want to be overly critical or discourage you. I commend you on your desire and perseverance of starting AND completing the saddle. It's a big undertaking when you have virtually no instruction. Best thing you can do, short of going to study under a master, is buy better instructional material and look at lots of top-end saddles for hours on end, looking at the overall balance and flow of design. I'm not talking about tooling, I mean the parts fitting together and providing a balanced look to the saddle. One of the masters of the trade, Keith Seidel, will hopefully add to, or possibly correct, my advice. Best of luck!
  10. Did you try changing your take-up? That looks like a pretty lightweight piece of leather and those machines are made to adjust that manually instead of relying solely on tension to position the lock. It's been probably ten years since I got rid of my Randall so I can't remember exactly without a picture, but I know going from light to heavy or the other way, I'd adjust the cam to take up more or less thread. The Landis 3 has the same type of adjustment, but I think you move it the opposite way. Another issue that my Randall was really finicky about was thread. I could only sew so long and I'd have to pull the thread out of the machine and take all the kinks out of it. It would getting to kinking so bad that when the take-up would give slack thread, it would kink in between the rollers and cause a problem. It was worse that way than any other machine I've had. However I still loved the stitch the machine gave. So, I would start with pulling the thread out of the machine, pull all the twist out of the thread, and try sewing your piece again. If that doesn't change anything, then start adjusting your cam that positions the lock. Good luck.
  11. Only every once in awhile do I use 415, usually when someone brings a tow strap in to repair. I use 346 on saddle skirts and most work harness and heavy using tack. Lighter harness (carriage-type, pony, etc,) finer tack and show tack gets 277. Part of the reason I like to stay with a lighter thread is I don't like leaving a great big hole that the larger needles make. Only occasionally I might use 415 on work harness tugs, but normally a 346 on them too. I sew nearly all my tugs with a knife in my machine, laying the thread in a channel, so it's not likely to wear through until the back layer of leather is worn pretty bad. The 346 lays in the channel nicer than the 415.
  12. Omg, I want to come visit you! All this talk of the Pearson #6 is making me want one. And I need another machine like a hole in the head.
  13. Glad I could help!
  14. There are blades for different thicknesses of leather. I have the blades for the thickest leather, because that's what most of my work is. I don't like how much the heavier blades take off a light strap. Ideally, I would have another machine with the blades for lighter work. The springs simply hold the work down, you really can't adjust for how much the blades take off, unless I'm missing something. Otherwise, I would have to take the heavy blades off, put the lighter blades on, and then switch back when going back to heavy work.
  15. I have not sent mine in yet Andy. I think I'm on the third position. In all honesty, I wish I had another one set up with a set of blades for a little lighter weight leather. I hate changing machines over and changing settings. I want to be able to set one up, whether it's a sewing machine or a spotter or whatever, and leave it set to do that one thing.