chrisash

Hand stitching say a wallet using fine thread but holes still show

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Hand stitching a wallet using fine 40s bonded nylon thread, if i use my pricking iron 3.38 mm or chisel the holes will still glare at you with the tiny thread and using awl will give a longer but thinner slot

I don't really want to use larger thread say Ritz 0.45 if I can avoid it

Is there a way to reduce the holes after sewing? (water might work , but will stain the natural finish i want to keep)

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Lightly tapping the stitching line with a hammer or using an overstich wheel should help flattening the thread and filling up the holes. Maybe you could post a picture so we can see the size of the problem. One thing to notice is that with the size of the stitching irons the size of the hole they make goes larger, it that makes any sense.

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As mentioned, you could try flattening the stitching with a cobblers hammer or a hide, or wooden mallet, that will close up the awl slots

I haven't been able to find the diameter of 40s thread, but have seen it described as upholstery thread. If you don't want to go up to 0.45 mm it looks like 40s is thinner, and that is, I think, quite thin for leatherwork

The alternative is to make smaller holes. Harness awls are typically 3 to 4 mm in width.  I've used Tandy's Craftool Pro Stitching Awl # 83020 - 00 and it has a has a narrow blade, I'd guess about 2 mm, but it is £ 34-55.  I haven't used their Stitching Awl # 31218 - 01, £19 - 67 but that also looks like it has a narrow blade

You could look at book binding awls, they are narrower and cheaper, but I think they only have a round cross section. You could flatten them on a sharpening stone, but getting a diamond cross section would be tricky, and you would probably be unable to tell at that size. Go to www.hewit.com, though there are others

Or you could make your own awl by mounting an old dart head or thick needle in a handle

Tandy have awl blades only which look fairly thin # 3319 - 05 at £6 - 95

Edited by zuludog

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40s thread is about 0.29mm and round in cross-section. Chris if you really like the fine thread like 40s have you tried unbonded nylon? It should unlay and flatten slightly, maybe filling the holes a little more. You may be able to remove the bonding from a length of your thread by passing it through a solvent (I have seen meths suggested but never tried it). Those chisels are designed for much larger thread, and though I have a few I don't like them as much as I do iron & awl -- the holes they leave are too big, whereas the holes from an awl close up quickly. You might be able to use a slightly larger thread, say 30s or 20s. These are still finer than the vast majority of threads people use for hand stitching but might fill the holes a little better.

Would it be feasible to modify your tools to make smaller holes? When Dixon was basically the only option for quality pricking irons in the UK a lot of users used to slim them down with a grinder or a file. (Dixon irons were notorious for their especially wide teeth. My 5, 6 and 7 SPI Dixons need 5+ cord linen to fill the holes fully.) Awls of course are fairly simple to grind down but tedious and fiddly. I've found loads of tiny awls made either by grinding or by setting almost all of the blade into the handle, only the very tip sticking proud.

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Stitching chisels make holes that are much too big for thread that small.  I'd consider using them ... or a wheel ... to mark the spacing then a small awl to punch through.  You might even get away with a leather point needle as an awl blade to make the holes.

- Bill

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Many thanks folk

Some great suggestions, think i will try to make a thinner awl first and see how it goes otherwise revert to Ritz, 

As you say the 40s is very fine but also very strong for its size, I am a believer of the Colin Chapman theory on making things, thin or strong enough to do the job as long as it lasts the expected life, so not over engineered. Mind you he designed Racing cars and not wallets

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I know that most leatherworkers now tend to use synthetic thread, but I think that natural fibres would be more likely to expand slightly and fill up the holes

This lady stocks several makes of linen and silk thread in different thicknesses and a range of colours, including Fil au Chinois. Will supply shorter lengths, down to 5 m, and sample packs.

She's very pleasant and helpful to deal with. Scroll down the home page to 'supplies'

https://www.kurzke.co.uk

Edited by zuludog

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I have different sized awls for different sized thread.  The smaller the thread, the smaller your awl needs to be.  I like Leder Louis awls.  He makes several sizes, reasonably priced.  Best awls Ive used too

 

 

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I wonder...... What size needles are you using?

The "big eye" needles sold by Tandy won't do much to reduce the size of the hole; the usually recommended size for leather is size 002. But for the thinner thread you are using you might be better off with smaller needles. Try asking John James for their advice

https://www.jjneedles.com 

 

I see that on another section you say you are using upholstery leather. This might be thin enough to use glovers needles, which don't need a stitching chisel or an awl

These are the needles that are often sold in haberdashers or similar displays of larger stores and supermarkets as 'leather needles'. they have a triangular cross section and a sharp point; probably cheap enough to try. I think Tandy sell them as well

Edited by zuludog

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On 7/30/2018 at 4:30 AM, chrisash said:

Many thanks folk

Some great suggestions, think i will try to make a thinner awl first and see how it goes otherwise revert to Ritz, 

As you say the 40s is very fine but also very strong for its size, I am a believer of the Colin Chapman theory on making things, thin or strong enough to do the job as long as it lasts the expected life, so not over engineered. Mind you he designed Racing cars and not wallets

If the idea is to make something that will squeak by then why bother making the stitching holes smaller? The only improvement is aesthetic (not that that's bad).

That thread will be out of proportion for anything under about 10 stitches per inch. The reasons are not purely aesthetics.

You have a piano wire and you wrap it around a block of cheese and pull.  Now do the same with a thick rope and the same cheese.

There's a reason seatbelts are not 1/2" wide, even though we have materials strong enough to not break.

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On 7/30/2018 at 1:30 AM, chrisash said:

As you say the 40s is very fine but also very strong for its size, I am a believer of the Colin Chapman theory on making things, thin or strong enough to do the job as long as it lasts the expected life, so not over engineered. Mind you he designed Racing cars and not wallets

When making something like a leather wallet or other handmade leather item the expected life concept is: you should be making an item that EXCEEDS the standard expected life of a like item.  Example: standard store bought leather wallet may be lucky to have a life span of useful use before failure/issues arise with its construction of about 1 year; leather item made by a person who purchases a kit and then assembles it following the basic instructions with not other skills or experience in the craft will make it at least 2 to 3 years (if they did exactly what they were instructed to do); a masterfully crafted handmade item that has had great care taken to ensure that it has durability, quality, and strength build into it will last decades as long as all of the materials used in the making of that item were selected to meet that objective.  I have wallets that are still in use today that I made back in the early 1980's and they are still the original stitching.  That is possible because I used the correct weight of leather and the stitching thread was properly selected for the project to ensure that I gave my customer a finished item that will have a useful life that will span far further than anything else they could get from other sources.  A professional craftsman determines the life of the item by the selection of materials, supporting supplies (thread, lace, dyes, etc.), and the techniques and skills employed to make the item; there is no "standard life span" of any item regardless of what may be read on the Internet.  We control the quality and results of success, not some "industry standard" that some genius brews up in their head.

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