cappadk

Tips On How To Use A Draw Gauge

12 posts in this topic

Hi guys

Im having trouble cutting my straps even, with a draw gauge. Either im doing something wrong or lack the experience, so im curious to how you

guys do it.

I have a old osborne draw gauge, and i find the handle to small and to short, its difficult having the leather close to the handle

as its quite small. Im thinking if one of those wooden ones from Tandy would be more suited as its handle seems longer.

Anyways, would love to hear how you cut your straps.

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I use a craftool strap cutter I got from Tandy.

Not sure if the instructions were missing or if they just figure only yutzes (me) wouldn't be able to figure it out in 5 seconds, but I had never used one before so I was a mess the first time.

Once I figured out how it worked, it's really pretty easy to use and as long as you have a sharp razor and a long straight edge to get the first line straight, it works great.

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I use three types of tools to cut straps depending on material and width. for thinner and softer material I use a wooden strap cutter. I use a single edge razor blade. For most anything wider than 1-1/4" I use a plough gauge. I have them up to 8" and can cut an 8" strip as easily as a a 1-1/2" belt. I use a draw gauge for most anything from 1/2" to 1-1/4" and the occasional 1-1/2" belt if it is the first grab tool.

I have quite a few draw gauges and they have different handle shapes and sizes. Some of the slab handle/perfect handle/scaled or scabbed handled CS Osbornes are pretty beefy. The Latta patterns and rosewood inlay brass framed ones tend to be smaller and more contoured. The cast handled ones are middle of the road. Some people like triggers, some don't. I have some really old ones without triggers. I don't mind using them. There are probably a few variations on the grip. Here's how I was taught and use them. My thumb is extending forward on the left side of the frame. It keeps the leather tucked in. My index finger points forward and lays to the right of the frame, pushing in slightly. By pointing it I tend to keep it pushed over more and run straighter. My middle finger is on the trigger and the other two are the grippers. I have seen some pretty handfy people use their index finger on the trigger too, so whatever works.

The big key for all of these is a sharp blade. The new Osborne draw gauge blades for me are too thick near the edge, steep bevel, and not sharp. I thin them some, put a flatter bevel on and a slightly convex edge. I usually round over the point at the top. I never cut with it and that is what has bit me when I have reached across. They need to be sharp enough to easily pull into the leather you are cutting.

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I'm no pro, but I've learned a few things about them when experimenting making blades for them.

One thing I found out about the draw gauge is that unless the blade is parallel with the "guide" on the handle to the right of the leather, one of two things will happen...either the leather will feel like its binding when pulling the strap through, or you will get an uneven cut. (I'm assuming you've got a sharp blade installed!) Test the alignment by using a plain old metal ruler, and put it between the blade and the guide. Then, move the blade against the ruler as tight as you can and make sure its also making contact with the guide on the right. If there is no "gap" between the blade or guide and the ruler on the top side, or the blade or guide and the ruler on the bottom, your draw gauge is in alignment. If you see a gap at the top, you'll experience binding, as its funneling in a greater width of leather at the top and squeezing it into a smaller width at the bottom. If you see a gap at the bottom, you'll experience uneven straps, as you're starting with a smaller width at the top and the extra space at the bottom allows the leather to 'wander' through the tool. My new draw gauge came to me out of alignment, but I didn't know enough to check for that. My leather was very hard to pull through the tool. When I finally figured it out, I made new "shims" for the tool to align the blade parallel to the guide and it then worked perfectly! I don't know if your unit came with those two "shims" that fit between the "ruler" bar that holds the blade and the grip (top and bottom) but the ones that came with mine were bent, causing the problem. I just made new ones and kept them square and that solved the problem. Another thing you might check for, especially if you bought an old one, is to make sure the bar with the inch markings is straight. Hold a straight edge (that steel ruler will do) against the bar and look down the length of it. Any warping or bends will show up right away. (Don't know how you'd fix that easily, though).

Knipper

Hi guys

Im having trouble cutting my straps even, with a draw gauge. Either im doing something wrong or lack the experience, so im curious to how you

guys do it.

I have a old osborne draw gauge, and i find the handle to small and to short, its difficult having the leather close to the handle

as its quite small. Im thinking if one of those wooden ones from Tandy would be more suited as its handle seems longer.

Anyways, would love to hear how you cut your straps.

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Mike516: You are probably right about having a straight edge first - before cutting the strap. I hadnt thought about that, but now that i do, it

makes sense. But how do you get that - relatively - straight edge first, do you just use a ruler and cut off the irregular parts?

Bruce: Interesting technique - i would have to try that. I too found the edge to be a little to thick, so i thinned it down and its perfect now. Im pretty good at sharpening and the knife goes through the leather very easily, no problem there. I cut straps 1 1/2 wide, hmm i have thought about trying

a plough gouge - do you think it would make a difference?

Knipper: Thats a excellent tip, i never thought of sliding a ruler between the knife and the handle. Mine doesnt look misaligned, but i will check

it, to be completely sure. Mine came with only 1 shim, but im using it without it, it works fine enough this way i think :)

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Let me start by mentioning, I'm a total rookie to all this. I have a guy that showed me the basics of leatherworking, and that's what I'm passing on. I don't want to sound like I know what I'm doing too much, so before you take what I say for truth, you should get confirmation from someone who knows what they're doing. I have been practicing carving and stamping and such but, and I'll probably get booted from these boards for admitting this lol, but my main enjoyment and focus right now in leatherworking, and what I spend most of my time doing, is stamping bracelets with alphabet sets and dying and decorating them *ducks*. So I'm not an artist like the rest of the people here but straight edges are important and a main focus for me. I really try to shoot for perfectly straight. The straighter your starting edge, the straighter your straps will be. So a relatively straight starting edge will give you relatively straight straps. A perfectly straight starting edge will give you perfectly straight straps. I would rather spend a little more time getting the first edge straight then deal with straightening crooked straps later.

To get my starting straight edge, I use a 4 foot drywall T-square and cut off one side of the irregulary shaped hide. It doesn't have to be a t-square, that's just the longest straight edge I happen to have from when I renovated my first house, so that's what I use. To cut it, I just use a utility knife with a sharp blade.

I hope this helps.

Edit: I should mention, one mistake I made was I tried to cut the leather in one pass. That doesn't work so good. I have had better luck laying the hide out on the floor and going through it in several passes instead. Just don't let the ruler move.

Edited by Mike516

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I hate wasting leather! Not only did I make a template for oval and round holes (spacing and alignment) out of plastic milk jug material for belts and straps, but I carefully cut some 6" strips of leather in various widths like 1/2, 1/4,1 1/2, 1 3/4, 2" etc. I put them into my Tandy strip cutter and slide the gauge/razor and tighten. I don't trust the inch markings on the gauge and there is n guessing when I want to cut a strip.

pete

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Thanks guys - after reading your suggestions im thinking that one of my faults was not straightening the edge first. I actually have a long metal piece i could use

to straighten it up first. I will try that when i receive my hides in a few weeks :)

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Is there a video on how to use the Osborn Draw Gauge?

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Depending where you purchase your hides you can ask them to put a straight edge on it before they ship. That has always worked for me.

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This brief clip shows the grip I use on a draw gauge. Middle finger on the trigger, index finger pointing down the right side and pushing back against the front. This counteracts any torque from blade drag and gives me a solid grip. My thumb naturally falls into place to hold the leather down. -

 

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