BorisBaddenov

Suggest a first project for a beginner

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Previet !

Thank you for allowing me to introduce my self.  I am Boris Baddenov, world's greatest No-Goodnik.    Please inform me if you seeing Moose and Squirrel.

 

HA!

Obviously I am not really BB :)     I live in Central WA, and I am very much interested in getting into the Leatherworking Hobby.   I don't have much experience working with leather, but I do have extensive craft and hobby skills.  I grew up in my parents Hobby Shop.   I understand the patience and attention to detail that it takes to produce good looking craft work.

I'm interested in making knife sheaths, wallets, belts, card holders, other simple trinkets to use up scrap (key rings?).  Oh, I'm sure that eventually Mrs. Boris demands, err asks me to make her something.   I am not real keen on learning stamping or carving straight away - at least not much beyond simple things along borders (for now).   I don't have any Leatherworking specific tools, so I will purchase them as needed for specific projects.   

I'm asking for two pieces of advice -

First - are there common mistakes that beginners make that you can help me avoid?

Second - what would you suggest I select as a first project?   I'd like it to be useful to me, so that even if it turns our icky I can at least get use out of the item. 

 

Peace-

Boris

 

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The single best piece of advice I can give you is be patient.  Let things like dye, glue and finishes DRY completely before moving on to the next step.  Read a lot, and practice before committing to a project.  Maybe run down to Tandy and buy a few kits that catch your eye/.  Good way to get started without breaking the bank.

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3 minutes ago, immiketoo said:

The single best piece of advice I can give you is be patient.  Let things like dye, glue and finishes DRY completely before moving on to the next step.  Read a lot, and practice before committing to a project.  Maybe run down to Tandy and buy a few kits that catch your eye/.  Good way to get started without breaking the bank.

Thanks for the hints :)

Tandy is an all day trip -- 3 hours minimum, one way.   I can choose to brave the mountain passes of the Cascades to Tacoma, or can I trek through endless dry-land wheat farms on my way to Spokane.  Third options is a drive through the Columbia Gorge on my way to Portland/Beaverton.

 

Peace-

Boris

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You can always order online as well.

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You can look at Tandy online and order items to be shipped to you. An easy but useful item to make is a simple belt. You can order a belt blank & buckle from Tandy. There are several good youtube videos out there on simple belt making. I like Ian Atkinson's videos. You don't even need to dye your first belt. I used Neetsfoot oil from Tandy for my firstbelt. You will need to sew the buckle end or use rivets. 

To start with you can use a utility knife with new blades, a punch for the holes in the belt, a slicker stick to burnish the edges. rivets & rivet tool, skiving tool & blades, an edging tool, a nylon cutting board, piece of granite or marble. I got a 12" square of marble from a cabinet shop. It was a discontinued color and $10.

I am probably forgetting something and others will give more advice but don't get carried away with tool many tools and finishes for your first project.

Good luck and enjoy!

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If you are not in a hurry, you can buy many low cost leather tools on "Etsy.com" just enter leather tools, for $150 you will be able to get a good selection of basic tools which will give you a good introduction after that its up to you if you want to pay the more expensive brands, (when you are learning the quality of the tools is probably less aparent than when you are more experienced) remember the tools from the past were probably made far less acuratly than CNC tools made today and only the steel may have been better quality

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9 minutes ago, BorisBaddenov said:

Tandy is an all day trip -- 3 hours minimum, one way.   I can choose to brave the mountain passes of the Cascades to Tacoma, or can I trek through endless dry-land wheat farms on my way to Spokane.  Third options is a drive through the Columbia Gorge on my way to Portland/Beaverton.

Miketoo had it spot on- PATIENCE... As for projects- you sound like me- where do I start...? EASY- something for YOURSELF... you will find you are your own worst critic- build it, use it and pick the flaws out... Mine was an ID card holder for work- Ive beat the tar outta that little guy... and I will be fixing things I dont like about it when I re-do it...  cost me about 2 sq ft of 2oz leather and 3x new sewing machine needles... and about 2 hours of frustrated joy.

Boris- Im new as well- very new... one place you can start is YOUTUBE- digest every:

  1. Arthur Porter video on patterns, hats and such
  2. Nigel Armitage videos for stitching
  3. Ian Anderson (Leodis Leather) His build along patterns are WORTH IT if you want to learn by doing and have a follow along. 
  4. niteKore (dieselpunk) This is Tony- he is fast to respond to questions and his patterns are literally off the shelf awesome. 
  5. ALL the Tandy, Springfield Leather and Weaver Leathercraft videos to learn WHAT tools or stuff you may want to look at. (no cheating here- seriously- watch not just the video- but HOW they use the tools as well- its like a post-game critique!)
  6. DON GONZALEZ- know his name? You will... And please dont say NO TOOLING... just a friendly reminder the SKILL is not the issue- Tooling is as much a part of Leather craft as seats in your car... work an edge? "Technically" its tooling... Make friends with it- blank leather looks bland and is really "cookie cutter"... learn to embellish. (seriously- its not all western-rhinestones conchos and basket-weaving- Tooling is the way to personalize, customize and stand out from commercial made crap!)
  7. Corter Leather
  8. Harry Rodgers
  9. Stock and Barrel Co (although not a big forum type supporter- he is a maker and promoting weekly sessions on getting your brand moving/built)

THESE ARE ONLY THE BEGINNING- Find a project you like- for your self... and build it.  Carry it, use it, and pick it apart- then build 10 more... Its not the "do it once and poof- you've got it" thing... Its do it till YOU like it- then move on- grow it.

USE FABRIC PATTERNS THAT ARE SIMPLE TO LEARN FROM! No need to go to leather exclusive stores- go to any fabric store and look around! Working with heavy denim is a LOT like working with the lighter weight leather (2 oz) for me.  Mock ups will avoid problems and pitfalls- as will good patterns (see references above!)

A simple "Dopp Kit" will serve you well for learning how to "turn" bags, sew zippers, and several measuring and allowance items... This is my first "Turned" bag in cloth I will be doing in leather- See the link below!

Hope this helps and I have found this forum is awesome as a resource- Be Patient, Be kind, and as always I hope this note reaches you safe, well and in good spirits!

 

DOPP KIT VIDEO:

 

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@immiketoo @TomWisc      I order a lot of stuff online, so Im not new to that!   I may also take a drive to Spokane, I have a buddy who lives there so we could meet up for lunch.  I think I'd like to walk the Tandy store and touch a few items before I buy.  Then again, winter is arriving soon so maybe I'll just stick with the e-commerce route.   

Tom - just a guess - but my family is from the Fox River Valley :)

@chrisash  Thanks, I had not considered etsy.com as a source for tools

@SilverForgeStudio  I am familiar with most of those YouTube channels.  In fact it was a video of Ian's that suggested this forum.  I am going to postpone much in the way of tooling as a way to keep costs down.   Those stamps (is that the correct term?) for tooling look like they could add up in price rather quickly.  I might get a few to do borders or something equally simple, but I have no desire at the time to get into "Sheridan".  I really dont understand how you can say that SKILL is not the issue when it comes to tooling.  No way I can match the work that Don does.  Thanks for the hint on looking for cloth patterns that can adapt to leather.

 

Peace-

Boris

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1 minute ago, BorisBaddenov said:

Those stamps (is that the correct term?) for tooling look like they could add up in price rather quickly.  I might get a few to do borders or something equally simple, but I have no desire at the time to get into "Sheridan".  I really dont understand how you can say that SKILL is not the issue when it comes to tooling.  No way I can match the work that Don does.  Thanks for the hint on looking for cloth patterns that can adapt to leather.

Stamps are costly- but you already have a series of them lying about- Ive used a simple bolt-head to add a "Beehive" pattern to a scrap piece that wound up being appropriated by the wife for a lid-gripper (and I wasnt even done with it!) And getting a simple set that interchanges is the key.

Sheridan is only one style of tooling-  Start out by googling "Line art" with any graphic you want... and transfer it and begin lining it- you will be amazed what you can accomplish with a simple lining tool (By the way- I use a scavenged rod from a printer reshaped with a grinder as a liner... most simple tools can be made cheaper than bought)

As for the Skill comment- Skills are the accumulated combination of:

  1. practice
  2. tasteful design (this is a matter of personal perspective)
  3. application
  4. execution.

Where they intersect in a design or project- and over time your ability to apply these elements at will to suit either your own personal style or the client's desire are the culmination of "Skill"

DaVinci wasn't born a genius- he just kept asking questions... Rembrandt was not a master till he was old- and wise enough to see the things beyond his brush- Skills are nothing more than cumulative experiences, mistakes, failures and the ability to understand their impact on our knowledge base. And I'm SURE Don Gonzales has many hours of practice and failures over any of us new guys here! Heck Im struggling with trying to just GET my first project supplies lined up!

Dont over think it- just see what you have about and see what it will do- You may be pleasantly surprised- Looking forward to hearing what you choose for a first effort!

 

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@SilverForgeStudio   I took  your advice and googled "line art".  I had to adjust my search a bit, finally ending up with "line art on leather crafting".   Holy cow!   I saw some really cool stuff.   I was able to watch a video on how to use tracing paper to take the design from a book and transfer it to the leather.  Then how to use a swivel knife to cut the lines.  Yeah, I don't want to do that.  Maybe later, certainly not now.

 

Peace-

Boris

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2 hours ago, BorisBaddenov said:

Thanks for the hints :)

Tandy is an all day trip -- 3 hours minimum, one way.   I can choose to brave the mountain passes of the Cascades to Tacoma, or can I trek through endless dry-land wheat farms on my way to Spokane.  Third options is a drive through the Columbia Gorge on my way to Portland/Beaverton.

 

Peace-

Boris

We also have McPherson's in Seattle and Oregon Leather in Portland.  If you are in the neighborhood, worth stopping in for a browse.  Oregon Leather had some really nice pieces of "scrap" leather when I was down there last year.

Check their hours first.  I know McPherson's has short hours on Saturdays.

I'd suggest you make a belt.  It will give you experience cutting, skiving, punching holes and dealing with edges.  You can buy a strap and go from there.

If you want something smaller, key ring.  Same skills needed there with the option to get creative design wise.

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Welcome aboard Boris.  Maybe not a special trip but if you find yourself in an area with a Tandy store it's well worth setting aside an hour or two to check it out.  Being able to see and feel the differences in different types of leather is a huge plus.  For me ordering online without having handled a lot of different types of leather was a crapshoot.  I'm slowly learning what works and what doesn't for my needs.

From my personal experience I would say start with smaller projects first.  It's less frustrating to screw up plus closer to instant gratification when things go right.  Don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes.  Learning what doesn't work is important too.

Spend a lot of time reading here.  There are a lot of very talented leather workers here. 

Ask questions.  Someone here will be able to at least point you in the right direction.

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Agreed, best advice is patients!

As for other advice and first project, the most common gift, easy to learn for beginners that I come across in not only message boards, but also in person is a belt. you can go as simple, or as complex in the design as you want. you can even just leave it blank if your not wanting to get into stamping yet. 

Your best friend for learning minus asking the people here on this board is Youtube. I have found several, if not thousands of videos on leatherworking hints and tips. you might find your first project just by browsing those.

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If you are still stalled for ideas, there is always Pinterest.

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Can't add much more other than a good Welcome to the forum!

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Welcome to the Forum!

There are loads of videos about leatherwork  on YouTube. Watch as many as you have the stamina for, but to make things a bit more manageable, use the Search box to narrow things down. I like those by Nigel Armitage and Ian Atkinson/Leodis Leather; Jacklore Knives has a couple of good videos on sheaths, or just Surf away!

Note that SilverForgeStudio made a mistake - Leodis Leather is run by Ian Atkinson, not Anderson

Perhaps calling key fobs a project is too grand, but they can show you - pattern making; cutting out; stitching; edge bevelling; edge burnishing dyeing; tooling/stamping/carving, depending on how far you want to go. 

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23 hours ago, BorisBaddenov said:

I'm interested in making knife sheaths, wallets, belts, card holders, other simple trinkets to use up scrap (key rings?).

Then I would recommend starting with those.  Kaint learn ta play the fiddle practicin' with a banjo ;)

 

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21 hours ago, immiketoo said:

The single best piece of advice I can give you is be patient.  Let things like dye, glue and finishes DRY completely before moving on to the next step.  Read a lot, and practice before committing to a project.  Maybe run down to Tandy and buy a few kits that catch your eye/.  Good way to get started without breaking the bank.

Welcome aboard, Boris!

Growing up in a hobby shop (REALLY jealous here), I'm sure you've got the patience part down.  Tandy kits aren't the greatest thing in the world, BUT they do start to give you a feel for how things go together: Think of them as snap-fit models for leather.  The pre-punched holes are enormous, but still start to give you a feel for sewing leather, etc.  They are also usually nicely proportioned designs, are usually a blank canvas for you to do a little tooling, dying, etc if you are so inclined, and often include a few suggested tooling patterns with a list of needed tools!  After my first Tandy kit, I realized that I could trace the leather pieces on some card stock and then use that as a pattern so that I could buy leather and cut out the same pattern (without the enormous holes for sewing if you want) - at far less $ than the kit cost for probably better leather.  Plus, it's kind of fun go back to a project you made early on and redo it with the skills you've gathered in between!  You may be amazed!

Tandy kits are on sale this week (Nov. 10-18) at 40% off, so there ya go!  They have wallets, bags and a ton of other kits available. Even some stuff that Mrs. Boris might like for a holiday gift.

If you are shopping Tandy, a couple of books I'd recommend are "Leather Tools" and "The Art of Hand Sewing Leather" by Al Stohlman.  There are several others worth having, but those two should be in just about every leather library!

Also, a really great and not-too-difficult first project is a belt, as a few above have suggested.  A belt may not come out pretty, but unless you cut it too short, there's not a whole lot that can go wrong enough to stop it from holding up your britches!  Tandy has belt blanks and buckles from very plain to fairly fancy.  The only things you need for 'em is a hole punch and a knife.  A little fancier and nicer, some dye and finish(resolene or the like), an edger and a slicker maybe.  Get as fancy as you like with it!

- Bill

 

 

 

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If you are interested in wallets, I'd suggest finding a pattern (JLS, above, has several of them on his website for free ;) ) and make 10 of them. By making 10 of them you can see the changes from the first to the last and the repetition is worth its weight in leather. That'll get you used to cutting, sewing, finishing, and then you can find a different thing to make multiples of, maybe tool some, maybe carve some? 

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Although my first project was to be a belt, I had the high intention of tooling initials in the back center, SO - I started by cutting 3 1/2" pieces and trying to tool a 3 letter script monogram on each. These became "luggage tags" for all my family and friends. It was great practice that didn't require chucking a $20 belt blank if it didn't come out well. Yes...I read that you're not interested in carving/tooling at the moment, but it's something to consider.

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Come play with us. Come play with us. 

‘Sorry, late Halloween. 

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OK -- I've settled on my first project.

Drum roll please ......

 

A stitching pony!

I have a decent shop, and plenty of wood scraps.  Quick run to the hardware store and I should be all set.  I have some old wooden chairs, maybe I can use two of those and end up with a Stitching Horse :)

 

Peace-

Boris

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POIDH!

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10 hours ago, BorisBaddenov said:

OK -- I've settled on my first project.

Drum roll please ......

 

A stitching pony!

I have a decent shop, and plenty of wood scraps.  Quick run to the hardware store and I should be all set.  I have some old wooden chairs, maybe I can use two of those and end up with a Stitching Horse :)

 

Peace-

Boris

A stitching pony is a great thing to have.  Really cuts down on frustration while stitching.  But if you decide you want/need a stitching horse check out pages 98-104

https://ia802605.us.archive.org/32/items/farmwoodwork00roeh/farmwoodwork00roeh.pdf

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Boris,

I'm betting you were not expecting so many replies were you? Us people that make things from HAMBURGER WRAPPERS are quite a friendly bunch. And one thing we ALL have in common is that we all started at ground zero. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!!! That's what that scrap leather is for. READ READ READ The Stohlman books are where I learned and I am still learning today. Now we have the interweb and YouTube and so much more at our fingertips.

Every project I do I pick apart with a neutron microscope and I see, and feel EVERY mistake yet about 99.3 % of people will NEVER notice it. Moal is, Practice makes BETTER. Don't beat yourself up and keep at it. The YouTube videos listed in most of the replies WILL enlighten and give you confidence to make more and more things.

Sure you are out in the proverbial sticks, far from a Tandy. I'm betting you have a computer since your here. That's all you need! Look around, shop around and you'll be amazed at what you can find and do. 

Here's my BIG hint, Ready? 

Do you live close to a graveyard or monument maker? I did and I stopped by asking to buy a blank headstone. It was EXPENSIVE as hell! Then the guy said he had a few "MISTAKES" out back and if they were what I wanted he'd let it go for $20.00 Done DEAL!!!! Best $20.00 I ever spent doing this craft! Hands down the BEST INVESTMENT next to finding an old surface table at a machine shop. I will NEVER break it nor wear it out.

Happy pounding Boris and before long you'll be very adept at this craft.

Rusty

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