Recommended Posts

Hi, ya'll. I just can't figure out how to get those glass smooth edges on my holsters. So far, I've been cutting, sewing, sanding edges, beveling edges, burnishing with water using a wooden post that i've got chucked onto an old motor, molding, dying, redoing edges, finishing.

So, my problem is, when i do the edges the first time, i can get them looking good. I use water on the edge and use a little bit of wax on the burnishing wheel to do the edge. But, when I mold the holster, i put it into the oven to warm up and help create a stiff mold and once the holster is done drying, the edges are looking bad. So, I come back after molding and dying to try and touch up the edges again but, i just can't get that really nice edge again. I usually just settle for what i've got at that point.

What am i doin' wrong and what should I be doing? I've read different post about this topic and it's easy to get a nice edge when the leather isn't molded or dry. But, once it's molded and dryed out, it's about crazy trying to burnish the edges.

Thanks a bunch!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shorts   

My suggestion is in the process steps. I prefer to burnish edges as the second to last step to finishing a holster.

Early in the process I sand the edges with several grits of paper. First is the evening out of the edges and beveling using the Dremel and the rough grit drum. Then I take 220, 320 and 400 by hand all the way around. Now I have a smooth leather surface that will burnish super fast once I get to that step. When 400 is done, then I go on with grooving, stitching and molding.

Then I take the fresh molded holster from the hot box and it goes straight to dye. Using dye for moisture I burnish the edge and then a light hint of beeswax. Then Resolene for topcoat and its done.

The steps I use takes a little more time but I think the results are worth it. All about the details.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lobo   

Monica has it right, in my opinion. Burnishing the edges involves compressing the fibers. When the holster is wetted after the burnishing this causes those fibers to expand, thus basically undoing the burnishing work. Using a heat source during the drying will make this effect even worse.

I like to do the final burnishing after the wet-forming has been completed, and prior to final finish application. For years I simply burnished the edges before the leather had completely dried after the forming process, essentially using only the water in the piece.

Now that I am doing more volume work, I have found it easier and quicker to do the burnishing after all of my work has thoroughly dried (I don't use a heat source, simply air-drying). I've also found that using a little wax is a big improvement, both in finish quality and in speeding up the process.

I use a 50/50 mixture of beeswax and parafin, simply rubbing the wax over the edges quickly, then put it on the burnishing tool where the friction and heat quickly transfers the wax evenly and forcing it into the exposed fibers.

I have the wax made up in pieces of about 2 ounces each. Each piece will easily do dozens of holsters, belts, etc. Send me a PM with your mailing address and I'll send you some to try out. I'm sure that you will like it.

Edited by Lobo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, it seems easy to talk about the way it should be done but, would anyone be willing to post pictures of your edges and the process you go through? I'm really curious to see what you guys have (don't extrapolate this any further than leatherworking :) )

Edited by LeatherCaptain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lobo   
So, it seems easy to talk about the way it should be done but, would anyone be willing to post pictures of your edges and the process you go through? I'm really curious to see what you guys have (don't extrapolate this any further than leatherworking :) )

OK, here are a couple of welted-seam holsters. One is undyed oiled tan finish, one is dyed. At the seam there are actually 5 layers of leather with the linings. These were done with the wax mentioned above.

Not perfect, but not too bad I think.

P1010034.JPG

P1010010.JPG

post-7487-1242064559_thumb.jpg

post-7487-1242064674_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, it seems easy to talk about the way it should be done but, would anyone be willing to post pictures of your edges and the process you go through? I'm really curious to see what you guys have (don't extrapolate this any further than leatherworking :) )

My process is a little different than the others posted here. First off, I agree with everybody else, you should do your burnishing after the holster is molded. Once it's molded and dry, this is what I would do:

01.) SAND EDGES - I use a mounted belt sander with a 150 or 220 grit belt and always move against the direction of the sander. All I'm trying to do hear is to insure that all the leather layers are even and all the reisdual glue and finish has been removed.

02.) EDGING - I use an edger to remove the corners of the edge.

03.) WET & SOAP - Wet the edge using a sponge and then rub glycerine bar saop well into the edge.

04.) BURNISH - I burnish with heavy canvas satuarated with Fiebings yellow soap. The canvas is wrapped around a wood burnishing wheel (I use the Weaver set-up)

05.) DYE - At this point I dye the edge with Fiebings alcohol dye. I use this because it is absorbed into the leather...it's not just bonded to the outside like an edge paint is. I also dye at this stage because I can get a nice neat, clean line because the leather is smooth and the fibers are all tight and bonded together. If you dye the edge before you burnish, you cannot get a nice clean dye line!

06.) HAND BURNISH - I use a clean cloth (old t-shirts are great) to rub the edge to remove any residual dye and to determine if a second coat is necessary. If not, I use a hand burnisher to rub any imperfections out of the edges and create an even smoother finish.

07.) POLISH - At this point I use a soft drum wrapped with cordura nylon (Mounted on the other side of my Weaver burnisher) and gererously impregnated with parafin, and burnish again. Once I'm satisfied with the finish, I polish to a high luster with a dry cloth.

08.) FINISH - apply the final finish.

Here are some examples of the my finished edges on a belt I completed this weekend, and a photo of the edge on a pad folio I posted earlier this year.

IMG_2086__L_.jpg IMG_2096__L_.jpg IMG_2095__L_.jpg

Legal_folio_025_L_.jpg

Here is my burnishing set-up:

IMG_2099__L_.jpg

This has worked pretty well for me, however, I'm always adjusting as I learn new tricks and techiques.

Hope this helps,

Bob

post-7682-1242068764_thumb.jpg

post-7682-1242068781_thumb.jpg

post-7682-1242068810_thumb.jpg

post-7682-1242068836_thumb.jpg

post-7682-1242069880_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys. I appreciate your willingness to share your skills and what you've learned to help out others. Those edges look great.

hidepounder,

Out of curiosity, how much was that burnishing machine from Weaver? Their catalog doesn't have any prices...(I guess I could call). My current machine is an old electric motor that my grandfather had rigged up as a grinding wheel. I took off the grinding wheel and drilled a hole into a 6" bun for the bottom of furniture and then held a round file to it to create some grooves. It works alright but, I'm afraid it's just got way too high of a rpm and I only have the bun on as best of center that I can get. I tried a couple of different objects for a burnisher but, this was the best thing I could find. I just couldn't drill a straight hole through the middle of anything to save my life. I don't have a drill press and ended up having to buy a new hand drill because my other one, uh "stopped working" as a result of my frustration of trying to drill a straight hole in the center.

I think I may try putting a straight edge up to the wheel making it a sort of lathe where I can take a knive to the bun to get it squared off. The weaver machine just looks so much easier. Plus, by the time i've finished buying 75 buns, a new drill, drill bits, round file, bandaids, chamomile, tylenol I could have just spent the dough on a nice, new shiny burnishing machine that would have made life so much easier. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dwight   

Cornfused, . . . this is a very simple approach to most burnishing problems.

Get a Dremel tool.

You sand with it, . . . burnish with it, . . . and polish with it. It gives you some real personal control on the piece you can "see".

Enclosed is a pic of the rigs I use, . . . they were made by using a 1/8 in drill in the center of a piece of oak dowel for the shaft, . . . put into the Dremel, . . . sanded to shape using files and sandpaper.

May God bless,

Dwightdremel.jpg

post-6728-1242137854_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABC3   

Leathercaptain;

The Weaver burnisher & sander is $475. I purchased one a few months ago. The best thing they have IMO is the edger. It makes fast work out of the edging process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Leathercaptain;

The Weaver burnisher & sander is $475. I purchased one a few months ago. The best thing they have IMO is the edger. It makes fast work out of the edging process.

What is an edger? Is this an attachment to the burnisher?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABC3   

The edger is not part of the burnisher/sander. It is a device (from Weavers) that you run your belts through that edges both the belt (on top) and the liner (bottom strap) in one pass. It is used for belts or straps and cost $795. But if you do alot of belts - it's a time saver.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LeatherCaptain,

There are a lot of alternatives to purchsing a Weaver Burnisher. I purchased mine hoping it to be the end of all burnishers......it was not!!!! I ended up wrapping the burnishing wheel with canvas, because that's what produces the best results! In time I am going to modify it again.

Weaver will sell the wood burnisher separately (I paid $30 for one a couple years ago) which could be mounted on a motor or chucked in a drill.

DueceTrinal sells some of the best burnishers I'v ever seen right here on LW. I'm going to order a couple for myself. http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?s...p;hl=Burnishers.

The bottom line is you still have to burnish with heavy canvas! I did this by hand for years, as did every saddlemaker in the country. If you're doing a lot of burnishing, then a mechanicl set-up is the way to go. If you are only burnishing occasionally, the mechanical set-up is a luxury. There is nothing wrong with using elbow grease to burnish with canvas, and then finishing the process with a rub stick.

I see a lot of people producing excellent products with mediocre edge finishes (and that's being kind!). They burnish with wood burnishers and use Gum T because Tandy or someone else sells it to them. Then they call it good because they went throught the motions! I have never been able to understand this! I know as well as anybody that fiinishing edges is a boring, monotonous process, but if you want to produce a quality product, it has to be done! Keith Siedel advertises that his edge finishing process involves 13 separate steps. That's a lot of work! Most of us want to get the piece finished and so we skimp on our edges, but the truth is that finishing edges is a major part of the process in producing a quality project...there's just no way around it!

Holsters can be tedious because of the contours you have to deal with after the piece is molded, but they are by no means difficult. And nothing looks better burnished than the 3 or 4 layers of a holster when they're done correctly!.

If it were me, and I was just doing holsters on a part time basis, I would probably burnish with canvas by hand, and follow up with one of DueceTrinal's burnishers mounted in a dremel or drill. When using the wood burnisher, I'm not sure that the higher speed is bad. Most drills and dremels are available with variable speeds. When using canvas, you have to stay down around 1750 rpms.

I feel like I'm rambling so I'm going to quit....hope this helps you!

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeatherCaptain,

There are a lot of alternatives to purchsing a Weaver Burnisher. I purchased mine hoping it to be the end of all burnishers......it was not!!!! I ended up wrapping the burnishing wheel with canvas, because that's what produces the best results! In time I am going to modify it again.

Weaver will sell the wood burnisher separately (I paid $30 for one a couple years ago) which could be mounted on a motor or chucked in a drill.

DueceTrinal sells some of the best burnishers I'v ever seen right here on LW. I'm going to order a couple for myself. http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?s...p;hl=Burnishers.

The bottom line is you still have to burnish with heavy canvas! I did this by hand for years, as did every saddlemaker in the country. If you're doing a lot of burnishing, then a mechanicl set-up is the way to go. If you are only burnishing occasionally, the mechanical set-up is a luxury. There is nothing wrong with using elbow grease to burnish with canvas, and then finishing the process with a rub stick.

I see a lot of people producing excellent products with mediocre edge finishes (and that's being kind!). They burnish with wood burnishers and use Gum T because Tandy or someone else sells it to them. Then they call it good because they went throught the motions! I have never been able to understand this! I know as well as anybody that fiinishing edges is a boring, monotonous process, but if you want to produce a quality product, it has to be done! Keith Siedel advertises that his edge finishing process involves 13 separate steps. That's a lot of work! Most of us want to get the piece finished and so we skimp on our edges, but the truth is that finishing edges is a major part of the process in producing a quality project...there's just no way around it!

Holsters can be tedious because of the contours you have to deal with after the piece is molded, but they are by no means difficult. And nothing looks better burnished than the 3 or 4 layers of a holster when they're done correctly!.

If it were me, and I was just doing holsters on a part time basis, I would probably burnish with canvas by hand, and follow up with one of DueceTrinal's burnishers mounted in a dremel or drill. When using the wood burnisher, I'm not sure that the higher speed is bad. Most drills and dremels are available with variable speeds. When using canvas, you have to stay down around 1750 rpms.

I feel like I'm rambling so I'm going to quit....hope this helps you!

Bob

You're not rambling at all...i'm glued to the screen. I totally agree with what you've said so far about people stopping short on the edge work. I really think it's just because they don't know how to do it properly or that they don't know what a nicely finished edge looks like. That's why I've asked for a "show and tell" of how/what people are doing. If I can see it, then I can typically reproduce it. I may have to ask a ton of questions, but I'll get there.

As far as Canvas, just any kind of canvas? Can I stop by JoAnn Fabrics and pick up a square foot or two of canvas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ABC3   

Hidepounder,

As mentioned earlier I have the Weaver burnisher / sander as well. And as far as burnishing not too impressed.

I noticed your "get up" and thought I might rig it up & give it a try. How many times did you wrap your canvas? I could not tell from the pic's. Also, how much pressure are you using. In other words are you pushing up or down with some force?

Burnishing is probably one of my weakest areas. I just can't seem to get a nice slick rounded edge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TomLine   

I've been burnishing the holster edge before the final wetting/fitting. This reduces the tendency of the leather swelling on the edges which makes the thread get swallowed up.

I wrap denim strips (old jeans) around a drill bit. I sit the drill in a vice and press bees wax into the denim bit. I rub beeswax into the holster edge, then run it slowly back and forth against the drill bit. Watch using denim or a piece of blue material can stick in the edge.

John Bianchi cuts discs out of pure wool scraps and punches a center hole in them. Then he slides them over a bolt and screws washer and nuts tight to compress it. You don't want to use synthetic materials because they will melt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DANG IT BOB!

Now you have me overhauling my burnishing procedures. Thanks for the advice.

Daryl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As far as Canvas, just any kind of canvas? Can I stop by JoAnn Fabrics and pick up a square foot or two of canvas?

I recommend using the old heavy canvas they use on wall tents. Lighter canvas will work, some people use denim, but I think the heavy canvas makes a difference. I saturate the canvas with Fiebings yellow saddle soap. I've been told the white soap works well also, but I've never tried it.

I noticed your "get up" and thought I might rig it up & give it a try. How many times did you wrap your canvas? I could not tell from the pic's. Also, how much pressure are you using. In other words are you pushing up or down with some force?

Burnishing is probably one of my weakest areas. I just can't seem to get a nice slick rounded edge.

Tom, I think there are three or four wraps around the wood form. I used Barge to help hold the outside edge down. It didn't take very long for the canvas to conform to the wood. I don't put a lot of pressure on the leather...firm pressure I guess. I have a harder time not over-burnishing...staying on the canvas too long creates a rough edge....partially from the heat caused by friction, I think. Th yellow saddlesoap helps keep the canvas lubricated. As far as getting the edge round is concerned, I think that depends on the size edger you use and shape of the groove you use when burnishing.

I've been burnishing the holster edge before the final wetting/fitting. This reduces the tendency of the leather swelling on the edges which makes the thread get swallowed up.

Tom, the only time I've experienced what you are talking about, is when my stitching, for what ever reason, was close to the edge. When that happens, I use a rub stick along the stitches to push the lether back in place and smooth it out. I prefer sewing after I do the edges, just to avoid that condition which, obviously, you cannot do when forming. Have you considered leaving everything long and uncut until after you've formed the holster? There is nothing that says you have to cut to your final lines before you form the holster. This would allow you to create a little more room between the edge and the stitches. Just a thought...

I haven't looked at John's edges in a long time....as I recall, they looked good. I think he burnishes and then uses an edge finish...but don't quote me on that. Remember, John is producing in volume....he cannot afford to spend the amount of time on the edges of a holster, that I spend on one of my custom pieces. I'm making one...he's making hundreds! He has to produce a nice looking edge, that is durable, and he has to be able to do it quickly. That is a lot different than making one of a kind custom pieces as most of us here do. Our edges should be better...it's custom work, not production work....and we get to charge more for it. At least that's my position. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lobo,

I got your package in the mail yesterday...THANK YOU! :You_Rock_Emoticon:

I've been working on a Glock 36 holster with attached mag pouch for someone and this gave me a chance to try out my new edge finishing procedure.

I used the method described by hidepounder...I stopped by JoAnn's and picked up a yard of heavy canvas (duck cloth). I had some Fiebing's glycerin saddle soap at home and some wonderful wax was dropped off at my house yesterday. I glued a strip of canvas to a block of wood that I was using for burnishing and once the molding was done and dried I sanded the edges (very important to start with heavy grained sanding drum first and then finishing with a smoother drum afterwards), used a larger guage edger to cut down the edge and then followed with the sander again to really carve out a nice rounded edge. Then I passed over the edges with a wet sponge and rubbed on some saddle soap. I hit the edge with the canvas block that I chucked into a drill and WOW...it's like a light bulb went off...this actually works! Once I completed that step, I dyed the piece and then hit the edge with the beeswax/parifin that I got from Lobo. It seemed to take a lot of elbow grease but I think it does a wonderful job of really smoothing out the eges and to hide any slight imperfections. Then I covered the piece with acrylic resolene. It's drying now and when it's finished I'll rub on a coat of carnuba wax and then follow with a coat of renaissance wax buffed with a nice microfiber.

I'm not quite to the level of what I see in hidepounder's photos but, it's goin' to be beautiful! ...I almost don't want to sell it!

Thanks for all your help. I'll post some pics when it's done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lobo   

Your customer is lucky to have you! That is a lot of work you have done.

Best regards,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bree   
My process is a little different than the others posted here. First off, I agree with everybody else, you should do your burnishing after the holster is molded. Once it's molded and dry, this is what I would do:

01.) SAND EDGES - I use a mounted belt sander with a 150 or 220 grit belt and always move against the direction of the sander. All I'm trying to do hear is to insure that all the leather layers are even and all the reisdual glue and finish has been removed.

02.) EDGING - I use an edger to remove the corners of the edge.

03.) WET & SOAP - Wet the edge using a sponge and then rub glycerine bar saop well into the edge.

04.) BURNISH - I burnish with heavy canvas satuarated with Fiebings yellow soap. The canvas is wrapped around a wood burnishing wheel (I use the Weaver set-up)

05.) DYE - At this point I dye the edge with Fiebings alcohol dye. I use this because it is absorbed into the leather...it's not just bonded to the outside like an edge paint is. I also dye at this stage because I can get a nice neat, clean line because the leather is smooth and the fibers are all tight and bonded together. If you dye the edge before you burnish, you cannot get a nice clean dye line!

06.) HAND BURNISH - I use a clean cloth (old t-shirts are great) to rub the edge to remove any residual dye and to determine if a second coat is necessary. If not, I use a hand burnisher to rub any imperfections out of the edges and create an even smoother finish.

07.) POLISH - At this point I use a soft drum wrapped with cordura nylon (Mounted on the other side of my Weaver burnisher) and gererously impregnated with parafin, and burnish again. Once I'm satisfied with the finish, I polish to a high luster with a dry cloth.

08.) FINISH - apply the final finish.

Here are some examples of the my finished edges on a belt I completed this weekend, and a photo of the edge on a pad folio I posted earlier this year.

IMG_2086__L_.jpg IMG_2096__L_.jpg IMG_2095__L_.jpg

Legal_folio_025_L_.jpg

Here is my burnishing set-up:

IMG_2099__L_.jpg

This has worked pretty well for me, however, I'm always adjusting as I learn new tricks and techiques.

Hope this helps,

Bob

Bob...

You can't argue with success. You produce some of the finest and most professional work I have ever seen. Your willingness to share makes you Best in Class as far as I am concerned.

I have been using a different method... a simpler but less satisfying method. I think that I am going to try your method with the canvas. Thanks for sharing!

:You_Rock_Emoticon::You_Rock_Emoticon::You_Rock_Emoticon:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UKRay   

Bob, I had never thought about fixing my Weaver burnisher horizontally on the end of the bench... it has been taking up valuable bench space for far too long and is about to experience a change of scenery! Thanks fellah!.

See - this is why this forum is so darn good!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bob, I had never thought about fixing my Weaver burnisher horizontally on the end of the bench... it has been taking up valuable bench space for far too long and is about to experience a change of scenery! Thanks fellah!.

See - this is why this forum is so darn good!

Ray,

I've noticed that the motor vent is exposed on mine and subject to debris falling in.....I need to install a small sheild on mine to correct that.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lobo   

We just can't argue with perfection, can we? Nice work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bob...

You can't argue with success. You produce some of the finest and most professional work I have ever seen. Your willingness to share makes you Best in Class as far as I am concerned.

I have been using a different method... a simpler but less satisfying method. I think that I am going to try your method with the canvas. Thanks for sharing!

:You_Rock_Emoticon::You_Rock_Emoticon::You_Rock_Emoticon:

My pleasure, Bree, hope it works for you.

Edited by hidepounder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob

is the best edge lesson I have ever seen.

You generosity sharing your knowledge says high words of you.

THANKS.

Pepin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now