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About Ruark

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
  1. Depends on what you mean by "learn to craft a saddle." In a 6 week course you'll skim through the basics of making one particular type of saddle, and that's about it. If you're just doing it for fun, or maybe to make another saddle later on your own, it would be OK, probably. But if you want to learn to make saddles professionally, no. That would be like a 6 week course in brain surgery.
  2. Johnny Scott Saddles

    All I know is that they're made in Scott Saddle Shop, which is somewhere in Texas. The owner, Bob Scott, is reportedly a Hall of Fame saddlemaker. I'm not sure WHICH hall of fame....
  3. Purpose Of D-Ring Hobble?

    I tend to agree with that. I can't think of any other purpose it might have.
  4. Purpose Of D-Ring Hobble?

    The front dee doesn't pull forward when backing a horse dragging a calf. It pulls backward.
  5. It seems to me like most full double rig saddles have a hobble strap connecting the front and rear D rings. I've never been able to figure out just what purpose this served. Those D rings aren't going anywhere, and it's more leather under your leg. Does it really serve a necessary purpose, or is this one of those things we do because it's always been done that way? You can see one on Johanna's "Saddle Nomenclature" post, on page 3. -Ruark
  6. We always just used plain vegetable oil to oil a saddle after it was finished. Usually we'd heat it up a bit for better absorption. Let it sit overnight, then a light coating of Saddle-Lac.
  7. Critiquing Saddle Construction

    First thing I do is look at the woolskins. If they're synthetic, I'm done right then and there. Then I check the lacing on the front D rings (since 99% of what I look at is full double rigs). If the lacing is loose, that means he rushed and laced it while it was still wet, which tells you a lot about him as a saddlemaker. And I look to see how strongly the front rigs are built - the leather going up under the front covers, and make sure they're even and square. Then I look at the skirts from the front and back for evenness and both sides being as much alike as possible, and make sure he didn't do anything stupid like drive a nail up under there, and the grain on the woolskins is going in the right direction. I check the cantle binder stitching to see if the punch awl was turned the right way so the stitching won't tear out. If the saddle has strings, I check how good a leather they're made of, and check to see if they're thoroughly oiled, preferably with mink oil. A lot of people just stick any old string through there. I also check to see if it's run under the woolskin, not through it, that's a small touch a lot of people don't bother with.
  8. Rules for Straps

    I always used a double thickness of leather on the flank straps coming down from a saddle's back D ring. After gluing them together and letting it dry, I gouged a little groove around the edge for the stitching. Being down in that groove helped protect the thread from abrasion and wear.
  9. Are you planning to use real woolskin, or the synthetic stuff? Do you know about putting woolskins on butt-forward? Nice job, by the way!
  10. Seat Tins

    I eventually used 16 gauge. Heavier than most, but worth it. Gave a really solid, secure feel to the seat. I had a sheet metal shop cut out 20-30 at a time and pre-drill the nail holes.
  11. Didn't mean to offend anyone, Russ. Like everybody else here, I have my own viewpoint, based on what I was taught and what I learned. I didn't say it wasn't possible to make a saddle in a week, I just said "be careful." We all come from different backgrounds. Myself, I learned from 3rd and 4th generation rural West Texas saddlemakers, who made almost entirely super heavy duty, full-double-rigged working ranch saddles, made to be used outside, all day, every day, year round, in every imaginable situation, from riding fence all week to jerking bulls. We always took 4 to 6 weeks to make a saddle, depending on things like tooling and lacing, which of course took more time. That's making 2 or maybe 3 saddles at a time, where you work on one for a day or two while the other sits letting glues dry, etc. Many, many times I heard comments like, "some guys say they can make a saddle in a week, but I don't know what they'd be good for, except sittin' on a horse and looking pretty." Of course, that's a little over the top, but that's what I grew up hearing. Again, this is just my background, and I'm not saying anybody else is right or wrong, and I intended no offense to anybody. But I'll say again, if I were a green beginner and some guy was going to take a bunch of my money and show me how to make a saddle in a week, I would.... well... "be careful." Ruark
  12. You're going to learn very little in 3-5 weeks, unless you already have some experience and know what to look for. Sometimes it's a very small thing, like holding a hand tool a certain way, that can make a huge difference. As far as the 1-week workshop, I can't imagine anybody making a decent saddle in a week. Be careful.
  13. The first question I would ask is what kind of saddles you're planning to be making. Are you looking at fancy show saddles? English? Western? Working ranch saddles? Trail? Arabian? There's a LOT of difference between all the types of saddles - each has its own special characteristics. One thing that can really break you in is getting a job in a saddle factory for a year or two. Sure, they're factory made, but you get a feel for getting the work done, and doing it right and not wasting time standing around admiring your work or whining over mistakes. Then start in a good saddle shop somewhere - you might spend some time sweeping floors, but that's where you learn the good stuff. Again, though, it all depends on what kind of saddlemaking you're thinking about.
  14. Drop Ring Vs Flat Plate Rigging

    I made saddles up in the Texas panhandle back in the 70s and 80s, mostly for working ranch cowboys and ropers. The only kind of rig they would even consider was a full double. Anything else would eventually tear out. In-skirt rigs were seen as mostly for show horses and pleasure or trail riding. But for hard ranch work, outside all day every day, the full double was the standard; the question wasn't even asked. Ruark
  15. All leather ground seat

    I always used a metal strainer on these Texas working ranch saddles. Seems to me like it gives a more solid, stable feel to the seat, especially if you have to slide up forward for a quick stop or if the horse bucks a bit. Ruark