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About Lobo

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Retired holster maker.
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  1. I was in the business from 1972 until retirement in 2015, last 8-1/2 years were full time. Started out with very little money to spend so I learned to adapt and modify tools to meet my needs without much investment. For sanding edges I used drum sanders in various sizes chucked into a bench top drill press. I sanded while the leather was damp, which allows the leather fibers to fall to the bench rather than filling the air with dust. Typical holster or belt takes about 2 to 3 minutes. Sanding sleeves for the drum sanders cost less than $1 each and will do hundreds of holsters and belts. For edge burnishing I used dye on the edges, then rubbed on a mixture of 50% beeswax and 50% paraffin wax, then burnished using a hard felt polishing wheel chucked into the drill press (about 1700RPM). Typical holster or belt takes about 3 minutes. Waxes cost about $2 per pound, which will do many hundreds of products. Felt polishing wheels cost about $1 to $2 each (depending on size), and each will do 200 to 300 holsters and belts. Friction from the felt polishing wheel polishes the edges while also melting the wax and forcing it into the leather fibers at the edges. Result is a well sealed edge with high gloss polished surface, stands up well to use. Far superior to edge painting. Waxes can be combined by placing equal amounts into a heavy duty freezer bag, then suspending the bag in a large pot of boiling water, then pouring the mixed wax into molds (I used muffin pans, producing cakes of about 2 oz. weight). Later on I found a nice lady who makes candles, and she produced my wax mixture in her machine, charging me $20 for 20 lbs (which was probably a 5 year supply in my shop). Watch the sales at Harbor Freight and you can pick up light-duty bench top drill presses for about $60 each. I found that they last about 2-3 years in production (about 4000-6000 holsters, belts, etc). The shaft bearings eventually wear out because pressure has been applied from the sides rather than in line with the shaft, as a drill press is designed to function. When that happened I just bought another (actually I usually had a back up sitting new in its box ready to set up and continue production). You might prefer to pay more for a heavy-duty drill press from other sources. So there you are. Less than $100 and you can expect proven professional results with minimum time and effort.
  2. A deal has been done. Lobo Gun Leather will be going forward under new ownership in November, 2015.
  3. Sorry if I annoyed you in some way. I deal with this issue with customers all the time. Most people just don't understand that in order to pattern a holster you must have the firearm (or close replica), in order to form the holster you must have the firearm (or close replica), that not every gun now offered or ever made is available as a dummy, or that dummies are not manufactured primarily for the use of holster makers. Lots of folks think that if a firearms manufacturer offers something the holster makers can produce holsters for it. Some folks think that a holster maker must have everything ever made to be in the business. When S&W started offering the Model 66 with 4.25" barrel some time ago (intended for the Canadian market, with some production sold in the US) I had a customer tell me that I would have to get one if I wanted his business. Since no dummies are made of that variation the customer was exactly right; if I wanted to complete his order I would have to spend hundreds of dollars for the revolver. Ruger has offered the GP100 with 4" barrel for years, and recently added a 4.2" barrel to meet Canadian requirements. We are seeing some of those show up in the US market, and no dummies are offered. Lots of holster makers receive inquiries from people who have handguns that are not commonly seen or available. Some folks have handguns that have been custom made or modified from original specifications. There are also hundreds and hundreds of after-market products (laser sights, tactical lights, custom grips, custom safety levers and slide releases), all of which can complicate the business of finding a holster for a specific set-up. Any attempt to service every possible market segment or demand will run up against the brick wall of cost vs. benefit. Again, I have been a bit lengthy with this response, and I have probably annoyed someone again.
  4. What we commonly refer to as "dummy guns" are produced by several companies (Rings, ASP, Duncans are the most frequently encountered). These products are actually made primarily for training of law enforcement, security, and military personnel. Use by holster makers is a secondary market area. Dummy guns are usually offered only for current production handguns that have achieved a significantly large market share. That usually requires a year or more after a handgun is introduced. Most handgun models are never offered or available as dummies simply because of low market share. Of the 500-plus different handgun models now offered less than 100 are available as dummies. The S&W 500 series is a highly priced and low production handgun. It is not likely to ever be offered as a dummy gun. If you wish you may purchase one of the S&W revolvers, then send it to Duncans Outdoors where they will make a mold and cast dummies for you. I think the minimum order is 6 pieces to cover the mold making, etc. So you would have about $300 in the dummy guns, another $120 to $150 in shipping costs to send the S&W there and get it back, and the price of the S&W revolver (MSRP $1,369, plus sales taxes). Shouldn't add up to more than about $2,000 to get six brand new dummy guns, and you can probably sell 5 of those for about $50 each. Of course, once you have purchased the new revolver you no longer have need of a dummy gun, do you?
  5. Most of the earlier XD-9, XD-40, and XD-45 pistols share common dimensions at most critical points, the major differences being overall length (barrel-slide group) and grip-frame dimensions. The later XD-M series introduced an entirely different slide profile and a few minor dimensional differences. The only thing I am absolutely sure of is that when I think I have it all figured out they will promptly announce another "new and improved" version. Happens every few weeks.
  6. Many customers have strong preferences for or against certain things. Lots of folks insist on suede linings and won't consider any holster without it. Unless you are willing and capable of convincing the vast majority of the buying public that one way to do something is definitively better than another way all you will be accomplishing by refusing to provide suede linings is to send potential customers to another source. There is really no big problem with suede holster linings. The problem comes along when people leave their fine firearms stored in leather holsters or cases over long periods of time. As long as the firearm is removed from the holster after each use, wiped down properly (oily rag or silicone-treated cloth), and stored separately from the holster there should never be any problem. All suede leather is produced by tanning methods utilizing chemical salts (chrome tanning, aniline process, etc) and residual chemical salts remain in the leather. These can readily go into solution with water (precipitation, perspiration, ambient humidity) and are capable of etching metal (blued steel, nickel plated steel, stainless steel, Parkerizing, manganese phosphate, etc) which can result in corrosion and damage over time. All leather items (vegetable tanned, chrome tanned, brain tanned, or rawhide) will absorb and retain moisture, so the only viable protection is regular cleaning and proper storage practices.
  7. I must admit that I have no experience with the Ferdco machines. I have had about 5 years experience using the Cobra Class 4 from Cobra Steve at Leather Machine Company. After about 9,000 products completed (holsters, belts, accessories) the Cobra Class 4 continues to function flawlessly. I am constantly amazed at how little maintenance attention this machine requires. When a couple of little things have come up I know I can call and either Steve will answer the phone personally or he will have a qualified tech there to answer the phone and I will be walked through any needed adjustments. You can buy a machine from any number of sources. You will not find any source that will provide the level of customer service that Leather Machine Company will deliver. Best regards.
  8. Nice old High Standard HD! Very popular .22 target pistol from the 1930's until about 1960 or so. Interestingly, during WW2 the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) issued a variation of this pistol equipped with a suppressor (silencer) to some field operatives. Basically, a close range assassination pistol.
  9. There is a sure cure for stupid, but there are also strict laws prohibiting homicide.
  10. You will receive at least as many opinions about neatsfoot oil as the number of people you ask. Neatsfoot oil is rendered from the lower legs and feet of cattle. Some describe it as being "cow oil", which is pretty accurate. Neatsfoot oil compound is a combination of neatsfoot and mineral oil, typically a bit less expensive than straight neatsfoot. Neatsfoot oil has been used to finish and preserve leather for many years. One of the traditional finishing methods used by saddle and harness makers was to heat neatsfoot oil until it would melt beeswax, then use the mixture warm. The oil penetrates and infuses the leather fibers while the beeswax seals the surface and can be buffed to a soft luster. The vegetable tanning process removes just about all of the natural moisture in the hide. The wet-forming process used in holster making stretches and stresses the leather fibers into the desired shapes. Leather so formed is very rigid. Since a holster must flex to some degree during use (on the belt as the body moves, when the handgun is holstered or drawn) this presents the possibility of the leather fibers cracking or tearing, whether completely through or only within the structure of the leather. Some of us (myself included) believe in the use of a modest treatment with neatsfoot oil as a means of replenishing a bit of the natural moisture removed during the tanning process, thus providing the finished holster with the ability to flex without cracking or tearing (or significantly reducing that possibility). The oil should be applied in moderation, and only once as the first step of the finishing process. I do this using a 1" paint brush dipped into the oil, then brushed over only the outer surfaces (top grain side) because application to the flesh side results in very rapid absorption and less control over the amount applied. The oil is absorbed into the leather (I call this "settling") and spreads itself evenly throughout the piece, a process that usually takes several hours (I leave it overnight before going forward with sealing and finishing). Neatsfoot oil can certainly be overdone, leaving any leather article limp and useless. Properly applied the oiling works as described above, with the finished holster remaining solid in the formed condition. Others will argue strongly against any use of neatsfoot oil. All I can say is that I've been doing things this way for 43 years, with tens of thousands of finished products delivered to customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries so far. YMMV.
  11. My usual recommendations are to avoid all oily or greasy products, touch up scratches and scrapes with leather dye, and use only a light application of neutral shoe polish on exterior surfaces. Obernauf's makes a good wax product for leather maintenance, Johnson's Paste Wax is pretty good, Renaissance Wax is pretty good, but all of these can be overdone, especially if applied too heavily or too frequently. Any holster will wear out with enough use. As a holster ages and is used the leather will gradually become more and more flexible, the leather fibers at points of stress and flexing will become stretched and start to break down. The only way to avoid these results is to put the holster away somewhere and not use it. When a holster has worn to a point that it no longer performs as intended it is time to retire that holster. I know of several holsters that I made 30 to 40 years ago that are still in use, but those have invariably been holsters that have not been used for every day carry. I have holsters that I have used for 5 years or more that still function quite well. When I was a working cop I wore out a few holsters and belts over years of daily use.I doubt there is any strict rule on longevity for leather holsters; the factors of materials, construction methods, user's habits, exposure to the elements, all play a part in determining this. Then there are individual customers and their practices. Like the guy who complained that his holster had gone limp and lost all retention, sent it back to me, and it was determined that he used gasoline to clean it. Some others used baseball glove grease, neatsfoot oil, lanolin, aloe vera, and Lord knows what else to "improve" their holsters, or because they heard or read somewhere that was how it should be done. I remember one who kept his holster on the dashboard of his truck all day every day, then found out what long term exposure to direct sunlight and heat can do to leather.
  12. I call them chew toys.
  13. Here is another one just coming out of the shop. Threepersons, lined, floral carved with black inked background.
  14. Over the years I have had many requests for holsters equipped with the traditional hammer thong retention device. I have noticed that very few people seem to understand how the thong is supposed to work. Basically, a simple loop of leather thong that fits over the hammer spur to keep the revolver in the holster during strenuous activities, but can be taken off easily to allow rapid access to the revolver when needed. I use a thong cut from 7/8 oz. cowhide about 1/8" in width. This needs to be long enough to allow connection to the holster and form the loop slightly longer than the hammer spur rises above the holster mouth. I mount the thong with two holes punched into the back side of the holster in line with the point where the cylinder and frame meet. Tips of the thong can be cut on a slight taper to ease passage through the holes. Holes need to be slightly undersize so that the thong is held securely. In use the thong is not tightened down to where it must be forced over the hammer spur. The thong is left a bit longer to ease the process of securing and releasing the revolver. For good retention the thong is just twisted a time or two with the fingers, which places tension on the leather and keeps it securely in place while allowing easy removal with the thumb or fingertip. Photos show the Threepersons style holster with traditional hammer thong made for a Colt Single Action Army revolver.