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Matt S

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About Matt S

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  1. Sieck sells them, I believe, and there is at least one other German dealer of Cowboy in Germany, the name of which eludes me. @Rosch22 FWIW I was not impressed with the build quality of either of the two Chinese made sewing machines I've owned (not counting the infamous/ubiquitous manual patcher) but many people love theirs. I also occasionally buy non-sewing machines direct from China, and I usually have to factor in a bit of fettling and/or upgrading before I consider it safe or effective to use, usually dangerous electrics. Not a statistically significant sample I appreciate. However I think it important to remember that the Chinese built machines sold by reputable local dealers have often been specced, and often setup and QCed by the dealer themselves so comparing factory-direct machines and dealer-bought is a little bit apples-and-oranges. I think that one of our members from New Zealand bought a 441 clone direct from the factory and wrote about his experience. Could be worth a look. What satisfaction/protection guarantees are on offer from Alibaba, and how low of a price are we talking? Can you afford to gamble that amlunt (plus fees and taxes) on buying a pig in a poke? You may end up with a perfect machine, you may get a Juki shaped boat anchor and a suddenly very quiet sales agent.
  2. I'd say it looks like a long-arm Adler 167 but I can't say for certain that it is. Adlers are excellent quality machines. If it's what I think it is it'll be basically similar specs to your Consew 226. Triple/compound feed.
  3. You could try giving Graham Williams at G&G Leather Tools a call. He worked for Dixon for 18 years and then set up on his own hook. No catalogue or website, just give him a bell and say what you're after. He says he can make basically anything in the old Dixon catalogue except things that need castings, like gauges and splitting/skiving machines.
  4. Okay that's interesting, you've probably go a veg tan or combination tan leather there. Do the edges slick/burnish? (Quick test: lick about a cm length of edge with your tongue and rub the wide, smooth part of your thumbnail along it vigorously for a minute.) I had been going by this photo, where the inner core of the leather appear blue-grey on my monitor:
  5. Sorry chap, going to have to disagree quite strongly with you there. Nothing inherent about chrome tanned leather that prevents water from soaking in, nor from taking edge kote. It's still a nonwoven mesh of fibres. A kitchen sponge, a piece of felt and a scotchbrite pad will all absorb water and take edge kote, doesn't make them veg tanned leather. A better test is: if you wet it then bend it, does the piece of leather /hold/ a shape after it dries?
  6. That blue-grey core on the cut edge looks like chrome-tan to me. Veg tannages tend to be a pinky beige in the core, unless they're struck through. @Lexy That's a good looking bag! May I ask how you finished the edges? Chrome tanned leathers (and a lot of veg tanned ones) are essentially pre-finished from the tannery. A little quality leather dressing applied periodically will keep it in good condition. If you can't find any commercial ones, try melting together beef or lamb tallow, beeswax and neetsfoot (calve's foot) oil in a 3:1:1: ratio. If you can't get neetsfoot oil most cooking/vegetable oils like sunflower or olive will work. Avoid anything petroleum based. This is a traditional mixture for hard-working leather gear, but it does smell. You can add a little bit of scented oil to improve the smell. A lot of people recommend beeswax and oil in a 1:1 ratio but I find that far too oily.
  7. @ThoughtFission So you're considering spending 40K on a waterjet cutter that /might/ cut leather to an acceptable standard, but not 7K on a laser plus extractor that /will/ cut leather (slowly, with possibly acceptable edges) or under 3K on a clicker press that /will/ cut leather /fast/ with good edges? Waterjet cutters aren't exactly clean. I've not used one myself but all the videos I've seen of people operating them look very messy. Ever used a pressure washer to clean a patio? Now run it indoors, 8 hours a day. I suppose if you're running a business it's possible to partition your waterjet machine away from the leather storage and machine rooms. You'll also have to contend with the fact that the leather will be soaking wet (and potentially dirty). You'll have to factor in time and cost to dry (and possibly clean) this leather before the next stage. I noticed that you've been making a lot of posts about saving money or doing things on the cheap. I know well how tempting that is, but in my experience that's the wrong way to setup a business. Cheap tools and machinery are some of the most expensive things you can buy. I'm not advocating to waste money but the frustration, the downtime (lost earning), the inflexibility (lost opportunity, and/or having to buy another tool to do that other job) and the early breakages associated with cheap (low quality and/or inappropriate) tools far exceeds what you initially pay for them in £/€/$.
  8. Rust isn't really water soluble, the water is basically just a way of getting the iron containing molecules into contact with the tannic acid in in the leather fibres in order to react. Mr Ghormley just gives his rustbarrel a good old stir when he needs it to black some leather. I've not used this method but he mentions letting the leather soak in the stuff so I don't think it's as fast a reaction as vinegaroon. You can see his high tech equipment here: http://www.willghormley-maker.com/MakingHOGRig.html I know that the rig he's making in that page isn't' very dark, but I think that's a deliberate choice with this piece and of course the darkness varies with the amount of soaking time and amount of tannic acid available in the leather. Yup, just a teaspoon of crystals in a jar of warm water. Do make sure you wash the leather thoroughly after striking, as the acid it leaves behind is (very weak) sulphuric, whereas the acid from striking with vinegaroon (iron acetate) is acetic acid (vinegar). Veg tan leather "should" be slightly acidic though, so don't go fannying about with baking soda or nothing, you'll do more damage than good. I did some samples years ago, measuring the pH at various stages, and found that just washing in tap water was PD close to what the leather started at. I'll see if I can dig out my notes but that was a few moves ago so I'm not confident I'll be able to find them. I feel some experiments coming on...
  9. Veg tannages like bridle tend to be more susceptible to heat than chrome tannages. I /think/ that the plastic temperature is lower for veg as opposed to chrome but it's a while since I looked that up. Typically I emboss or crease veg tannages somewhere between 60 and 100 degrees C (maybe 80-212F?) and chrome around 200C. Generally I avoid applying water for debossing, as it can leave a tide mark. I'd throw a +1 at Northmount's suggestions. Remember that the plate will have a temperature gradient across it (hottest closest to the heater element, coolest at the most exposed edge), the larger the plate the larger the gradient, and that the heat controller is measuring the temperature at one specific place wherever the thermocouple is located. I tend to leave my plates to "soak" for a few minutes before first press to give it a chance to warm through.
  10. Class 7 needles -- 7x1 for fabric and 7x2 for leather!
  11. If the OP is still around, I'd be curious about his take as a chemist on using other iron sources for striking leather black rather than everyone tediously reacting their own ferric acetate. With the presence of water almost any source of iron will work. Will Ghormley uses a drum of water with rusty strap iron in it. I'm sure that most of us have noticed that blood does the same job too, as do iron filings (e.g. from a splitting machine). Iron diet supplement pills work if ground up and dissolved in water. I tend to use iron sulphate crystals from the garden centre. All you're doing is providing a way for the iron to react with the tannic acid in the leather leftover from the tanning process to form FEO3 (an insoluble blue-black lake). I have scepticisms on the importance or specialness of vinegaroon in achieving this effect, though I admit that the acid left after the reaction may make a difference in the longevity of the leather -- but that in turn presupposes that the leather isn't washed in plain water after striking (which I presume we're all doing after using any striker including vinegaroon, right? ).
  12. @lwika16 Lori, how hot can your machine go? I'd just turn the temperature up a bit and give it another try. Magnesium takes a lot of temperature to burn, in school we had to hold it in a gas jet for a length of time to get it going. I think you'll be safe turning it up. In fact, I just used the Google. Magnesium autoignites at 473 °C (746 K; 883 °F). You're pretty safe making it hotter. Maybe don't use a blowtorch on the die though! Most of the chrome tanned leathers I deboss get a deep, permanent mark at around 200C (390F) but I guess the amount of oils in yours might be doing something odd. A minute is a long dwell time, what happens if you dwell for a few seconds?.
  13. @PeterHarvey Welcome to the forum and the craft. There's nothing quite like having a goal! There's no lack of surplus industrial machines in the UK that will sew boot uppers available for under a grand. The snag is knowing what you're looking at, fixing it up and how to use it. Off the shelf new, you might just about get a Chinese machine. If you'll accept used machines you can probably get a walking foot flat-bed from a dealer for under a grand. However you may not be able to sew a set of uppers on a single machine, as industrials tend to do one thing well per model. You might do the majority of the seams on a flat-bed, then need to do the heels on a zig-zag, the uppers turned right side out and a few more seams with a post-bed where the flat-bed can no longer reach. Machine sewing is not an unskilled task, and it takes time and practice to get acceptable results. I always suggest that people new to the craft learn to hand sew first, as it eliminates a big chunk of complicatedness. Everything was hand sewn before 1850 so it's not impossible! Have you considered how you'll sew the uppers to the welts or insole, and the welts to the outsole? Each of those is a specialist task that either requires hard hand work or a dedicated machine. Your local cobbler may have an insole (Blake) and outsole stitcher and might be willing to do those jobs for you. Oh and from experience you might want to look elsewhere for the uppers. Veg tan is inherently sensitive to water/moisture. It becomes mouldable when wet and dries hard. I've got a pair of very comfortable jump boots that are basically unusable because they have veg tanned uppers. Best of luck with your endeavours. This is one of the best places on the interwebs to learn. Please do be aware though that you will be spending far more than £1000 to replicate that pair of boots when you take into account materials and tools and time. A lot of us got into this game thinking "How much for a belt? I could do it for less if I just had a piece of leather and a few tools..."
  14. Abbey England hardware is good stuff, a lot of it made in their own foundry in Walsall. Is there something specific about them that makes you doubt their quality?
  15. Linen is certainly softer on the hands, but synthetics can be pretty good these days, and often cheaper than linen. Ritza "tiger" is a popular premium flat-braided polyester thread for hand stitching. The braid eliminates twisting issues and gives a chunkier look than laid thread. It's also usually available in a wider range of colours than linen. Waxing the thread by hand is a definite "yes" for me, whether the thread is prewaxed or not. Beeswax is okay and better than nothing, but handwax/coad is miles better, and honestly I see its lack of mention in Stohlman's works as an indication of the limits of his experience and/or the extent to which he wanted to push what was available at Tandy for the quickest results possible. Coad can be any number of concoctions but a good one is beeswax and pine rosin, say 2:1 or 3:1, maybe with a tiny bit of linseed oil thrown in. Melt them together in a double boiler setup (bean tin in a pan of water), then pour the mess into a big bowl of lukewarm water. Grab the glob and start pulling it apart and recombining while keeping it underwater to avoid burns. Keep going until it cools enough to not burn you when you pull it out the water and keep pulling it apart and smooshing it together, finally rounding it as it starts to get hard. Use this coad as you would beeswax -- pinch the thread to the wax and draw it through with some gusto, at least a half-dozen times. You'll find that coad stays on the thread better (straight beeswax can flake off like dust); melts as you draw the thread for lubrication; holds stitches together better where they cross over; gets on your fingers and helps to grasp the needles. There's loads of different ingredients and mixtures you can use, and some experimentation is needed depending on your environment and preference. You may need different mixes in the summer and winter.
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