colbyj

Wickett And Craig Vs. Hermann Oak

21 posts in this topic

Hello Everyone,

I just got my first sides of WC today and it seems like there is something different about the casing process than the HO. I cant seem to get the WC leather cased right to carve and tool. Am I missing something? Does anyone else have any experience when switching from HO to WC? Thanks so much in advance.

Colby

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Hello Everyone,

I just got my first sides of WC today and it seems like there is something different about the casing process than the HO. I cant seem to get the WC leather cased right to carve and tool. Am I missing something? Does anyone else have any experience when switching from HO to WC? Thanks so much in advance.

Colby

I actually went the other way (WC to HO) and there is a significant difference. HO has a much firmer temper than WC and takes about twice as long to case properly than WC does. WC is also typically lighter in color than HO so you want to wait until it returns to it's true color versus the russet that you're used to with HO.

Long story short, use a little less water/time than you would with HO and it should work fine.

Chris

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I think HO is heads and shoulders about W&C as far as my needs. I have never carved leather, but the HO takes my makers mark much better, and holds it shape much better when I make holsters. I am using the remaining W&C leather for try on belts and practice patterns for holsters. Besides, Hermann Oak looks amazing when Oiled.

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Thanks guys, Im having trouble with my swivel knife gliding through the leather. Sounds like I just need to get the casing right. But I have tried every different dampness! Im confused because the leather takes the beveler great. Anybody else have this problem with WC?

Colby

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Which W&C leather are you using? Their Oak is lighter, and possibly softer temper, though I haven't used it enough to know how consistently softer it is. Frankly, I didn't like it. It reminded me of import leather. I have used their drum dyed stuff for years and it is definitely softer. It is a pain to carve due to the dye. You must constantly strop your knife as you carve to remove the buildup on the knife, which causes the chatter. It all takes up water with no problem.

Hermann Oak russet is a superior tannage overall, no question. The biggest problem with Hermann Oak is the consistency and uniformity. It is a crapshoot every time I order some. Of course, I don't buy direct from HO because of the capital outlay and wait time, and market uncertainty makes that risky. I use distributors, usually a couple sides at a time, and that means I am at the mercy of their pick. If they get crap, I get crap. Otherwise, I have to pay through the nose for a side of leather if I want a shot at getting an actual no.1 grade. I ordered 10 no. 1 sides from HO once, and it took forever to get it, and I got no better than if I had ordered tannery run from a distributor. One side had a 4" butcher cut right through the back/butt where I take my stirrup leathers! The cost of return shipping means you generally have to eat the crap.

I have noticed a reduction in overall quality and consistency of W&C over the past few years. I always order their top grade and sometimes there is grain damage, rawhide untanned areas, lots and lots of fat wrinkles throughout, and narrow sides, but the thickness is always quite good and uniform. I order heavy and I get heavy.

With Hermann Oak, sometimes I order heavy and get medium, and sometimes I get extra heavy. (18 oz in the neck!!) And, it is like sole leather - dry as hell and impossible to cut. I know I could order it leveled, buffed, etc, but that adds to the cost which is already driving my hourly wage side of the equation into the; "would you like fries with that?", and, "Welcome to Walmart", price range.

I'm thinking about going Mexican. Like they say, once you go Mexican, eh... you're stuck on the other side of the fence. I have to say, the Chahin tanned stuff is generally pretty decent. Plus, I notice they have drum dyed brown and chestnut skirting. For the price I'm paying for W&C these days, I could probably just buy 3 side of Chahin and work around the problems.

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Brent, I am using the carving/tooling leather with oak color. The majority of my work is on the lighter side, like belts, wallets, etc. So I am using the 8/10 oz range typically. I think I am going to go back to order the belt bend/double shoulders from Springfield. Their is hardly any waste and it tools great. I just wanted to try out the W&C because I heard good things about it.

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Two notes:

1) While W & C leather is generally of a softer temper than HO they will double or triple plate it at your request IIRC for free - this gives it a much firmer hand

2) W & C also offeres backs/bends and IMO comparing backs to sides is more or less apples and oranges....

Overall though I have to agree after crafting leather now for 51 years, that todays leather is not up to the standards I used to get....

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Anybody else have this problem with WC?

Colby

I doubt the leather would be the problem.

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Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the input from everyone. Except the last comment. If you dont have any advice, why say anything?

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Colby,

I have seen experienced leatherworkers who can make a silk purse from a sow's ear (as the saying goes). There are three long established vegetable tanneries left in the US. They all make remarkably good product from the packer hides they receive. The cattle are brought to slaughter quite early now (I can't remember in the last 12 years seeing a carcass or primal cut that cut black) and the subsequent hides are quite different than those of older cattle. Old steer good for hides, young steer good for meat, and the packer chooses meat every time. Old steers, bulls, dairy, etc are processed into meat products (canned etc.).

The three US tanneries make a little different product in firmness, which is the first thing you feel. HO is a little harder than WC. HO got a little too all over the place for me, so I went with WC because they put out a consistent product that you can adjust in finishing. It the product is too soft, have it jacked harder. The finishing dept at WC is their strong point, use it.

Buying one hide at a time from different sources is not the way to buy. Going to the tannery is of course the best way if you are near and can stand to buy in bulk. You have to learn what your supplier can and will do for you. However for the small user, there is always TLF or better yet Springfield Leather. SLC will cut leather for you, Kevin has made customer service his goal with the smaller crafter in mind. Call and talk to them about your needs. Sometimes the tanneries can't supply your needs, and that's where SLC or TLF can really work for you.

So there you go, there is no one solution to any problem, if there is then go for it. And don't write TLF or SLC off, back in the '90s, the best calf (naked) I could get anywhere was at Tandy, sorry to see them go.

Like I first said, a good leatherworker can make a damned fine product with whatever he has.

Art

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the input from everyone. Except the last comment. If you dont have any advice, why say anything?

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Colbyj.....what method are you using to case your leather? I'm having difficulty understanding what you mean when you say you can't get it cased right. The casing process is the same regardless of the brand leather you are using. Can you elaborate a little?

Bobby

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I find that I need to let wickett dry out more than herman before I can start tooling. Just my 2cents.

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Bob- I definitely understand what youre saying. I think what I am trying to say is that everything is remaining constant on my end. Same casing process, same tools, same everything. So my question to everyone, was if they changed there casing process or anything like that with the W&C. I know the W&C is a good product, so by no means am I trying to say the leather isn't good leather. I was just wanting some more experienced opinions about the leather.

On another note, since I am primarily making small products like belts and wallets, what cuts would be best for my needs? I am thinking double shoulders would be the best way to go.

Colby

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Bob- I definitely understand what youre saying. I think what I am trying to say is that everything is remaining constant on my end. Same casing process, same tools, same everything. So my question to everyone, was if they changed there casing process or anything like that with the W&C. I know the W&C is a good product, so by no means am I trying to say the leather isn't good leather. I was just wanting some more experienced opinions about the leather.

On another note, since I am primarily making small products like belts and wallets, what cuts would be best for my needs? I am thinking double shoulders would be the best way to go.

Colby

Hi Colby,

The reason I asked what method you were using for casing is because you mentioned that you cased by pulling your leather through a pan of water and based on that comment you are just wetting the leather but not casing it. Many people mistakenly use the term "casing" for wetting but I didn't want to assume that was the case here. The casing process can be achieved with some variations, such as using additives or using casing boxes ILO bags, etc., but the bottom line is that leather is either cased or it isn't. The process doesn't change. It doesn't matter if I'm using W&C, HO, Thoroughbred or Tandy leather, the casing process is the same. So if my assumption is correct and you are simply wetting your leather, you will benefit greatly by casing. However if you are truly casing your leather then there are a couple of things you might try.

The first is to re-sharpen your swivel knife blade. You would be amazed at how many people cut with dull blades and don't know it and that's understandable because if a person has never had a sharp blade how would they know what sharp really is? As Brent mentioned, the chattering you feel is corrosion forming on the blade due to the residual chemicals in the leather. Sometimes you get a side which is just difficult to cut and requires a lot of stropping (which does dull your blade, BTW).

So the next thing to try is adding a small amount of Joy dish washing detergent and a small amount of liquid glycerine to your casing solution. The soap is a surfactant and helps the leather absorb the water more completely and the glycerine seems to help the leather to cut a little smoother. I think it's acting like a lubricant, but I can't prove that. Additionally when I have a side which is difficult to cut I will apply a light lather of Ivory bar soap to the surface of the leather, again, to act as a lubricant while cutting.

With all that said, I rarely need to apply anything to the surface of the leather when using cased leather. So anyway, hopefully some of this will help, however, if I have made any assumptions in error I apologize and please ignore me!

Good luck,

Bobby

Edited by hidepounder

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Colby, I agree with Art... If you're not using a ton of leather, you should consider the double shoulders sold by Tandy. The advantage is that you can visit the store and leaf through the stack yourself, sizing up the feel, thickness and quality. I think all of Tandy's double shoulders are now imported, and some are real garbage. However, I've never walked away from the store without leather. There's always at least one or two shoulders that are clean and consistent.

By the way, if you were happy with what you received from Springfield, you might just go back to them. I think it's great that you're experimenting, but at some point, you might want to cut your losses and go back to the "sure thing."

Good luck! -Alex

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While W & C leather is generally of a softer temper than HO they will double or triple plate it at your request IIRC for free - this gives it a much firmer hand

so I went with WC because they put out a consistent product that you can adjust in finishing. It the product is too soft, have it jacked harder. The finishing dept at WC is their strong point, use it.

Chuck and/or Art -- at the risk of taking this thread in a new direction, would you explain what you mean by "triple plate" and "jacked harder"? I've always purchased my leather straight from a retailer and have no experience with tanneries. Still, I'm curious about what you mean by the above quotes... It sounds like a tannery can customize your order to give it more firmness, etc.?

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The tannery can plate, a big press they use to press the leather between two plates, or jack, a roller press that they can set to compress the leather. This adds stiffness through compression of the fibers. There are also chemicals that can be applied to accomplish something similar chemically instead of physically. Weaver sells that chemical although I have never used it.

Art

Chuck and/or Art -- at the risk of taking this thread in a new direction, would you explain what you mean by "triple plate" and "jacked harder"? I've always purchased my leather straight from a retailer and have no experience with tanneries. Still, I'm curious about what you mean by the above quotes... It sounds like a tannery can customize your order to give it more firmness, etc.?

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I talked with Matt from W&C for probably 3 hours at the Wickenburg show in Feburary. He said that they can press it to different levels of firmness. He mentioned how one big name holster manufacturer will specify they want it pressed or "holstered" at 5000 psi, where another will specify they want it at 6000 psi. I had them "holster" a side I got from them recently, though I didn't specify how firm I wanted it (didn't know you could do that at the time.) I haven't made anything with the piece yet, but it feels about as firm as HO I've used. Also, if you are buying drum dyed leather, some of if has the dye struck completely through, and some doesn't. If you want it struck all the way through, just ask, and they'll pick out a piece for you.

Colt Hammerless

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Hi Colby,

The reason I asked what method you were using for casing is because you mentioned that you cased by pulling your leather through a pan of water and based on that comment you are just wetting the leather but not casing it. Many people mistakenly use the term "casing" for wetting but I didn't want to assume that was the case here. The casing process can be achieved with some variations, such as using additives or using casing boxes ILO bags, etc., but the bottom line is that leather is either cased or it isn't. The process doesn't change. It doesn't matter if I'm using W&C, HO, Thoroughbred or Tandy leather, the casing process is the same. So if my assumption is correct and you are simply wetting your leather, you will benefit greatly by casing. However if you are truly casing your leather then there are a couple of things you might try.

The first is to re-sharpen your swivel knife blade. You would be amazed at how many people cut with dull blades and don't know it and that's understandable because if a person has never had a sharp blade how would they know what sharp really is? As Brent mentioned, the chattering you feel is corrosion forming on the blade due to the residual chemicals in the leather. Sometimes you get a side which is just difficult to cut and requires a lot of stropping (which does dull your blade, BTW).

So the next thing to try is adding a small amount of Joy dish washing detergent and a small amount of liquid glycerine to your casing solution. The soap is a surfactant and helps the leather absorb the water more completely and the glycerine seems to help the leather to cut a little smoother. I think it's acting like a lubricant, but I can't prove that. Additionally when I have a side which is difficult to cut I will apply a light lather of Ivory bar soap to the surface of the leather, again, to act as a lubricant while cutting.

With all that said, I rarely need to apply anything to the surface of the leather when using cased leather. So anyway, hopefully some of this will help, however, if I have made any assumptions in error I apologize and please ignore me!

Good luck,

Bobby

Hi Bobby.

You said <<adding a small amount of Joy dish washing detergent and a small amount of liquid glycerine to your casing solution>>

Can you tell me how much is the amount of dish washing detergent and glycerine you add to the water of the casing solution?

Thank you in advance.

Marcelo

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Hi Bobby.

You said <<adding a small amount of Joy dish washing detergent and a small amount of liquid glycerine to your casing solution>>

Can you tell me how much is the amount of dish washing detergent and glycerine you add to the water of the casing solution?

Thank you in advance.

Marcelo

Marcelo i probably put about teaspoon of soap and 1/2 teaspoon of glycerin to two quarts of water. Sometimes I use a little more of each. I don't measure.....I just add a little and I'm done.

Bobby

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One thing that pretty much changed my world in casing my leather was to get a plastic tub with a snap on lid from Wally World as my casing box.

I mostly do medium and smaller items like holsters, wallets and belts. I soak my leather pretty much like you're saying yo do. Run it through a pan of water slowly to let it absorb a good amount of water and then into the bin it goes until the next day. After that I pull it out and let it sit for an hour maybe and it is ready to carve and tool. The bin has enough airspace to let the majority of the water evaporate but still retain enough water to stay moist.

One thing I have found out though is that you have to wash the tub out with a bleach/water solution once in a while or it gets a case of the funk.

I looked around on the web and couldn't find the exact tub but it pretty much looks like this....

http://tianliplastic.en.ec21.com/Plastic_File_Folder_Tubs_Tub--5269784_5269822.html

Edited by Mudruck

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