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Gabriel Rasa

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About Gabriel Rasa

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  • Birthday April 25

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LW Info

  • Leatherwork Specialty
    costuming, armor, tooling
  • Interested in learning about
    making stuff combat-ready, knife sheaths

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  1. Aha, this is what I was after! What did you use to remove the grind marks? Was that the sandpaper? I'm assuming you used a super fine grain?
  2. I was never great at stropping even when I did use a metal swivel knife -- I was never sure which jeweler's rouge/compound I was supposed to be using, and couldn't actually tell whether it was making a difference. (Though if anybody can weigh in on that, I'm sure I've still got all the stuff kicking around somewhere.) When I'm sharpening razor blades I use a regular whetstone, and I've found that finishing it off with a ceramic whetstone makes a world of difference in how smoothly it cuts, but I'm guessing you can't sharpen a ceramic blade with a ceramic whetstone. =/
  3. I've had some bad, bad experiences with water-based dyes -- if your project gets wet, the dye will run immediately, and I wouldn't trust any sealant to 100% keep water out. Especially if you're going for a more natural look with oils and balms instead of a synthetic topcoat -- there's absolutely nothing keeping the water out, and your water-based dye is going to bleed like crazy if it ever gets wet. That said, I completely agree with your dislike of oil dyes, but instead of going to water-based dyes, might I recommend a straight alcohol dye? I'm given to understand that the Fiebings (not pro) dye is alcohol-no-oil, or if you've lost faith with Fiebings, you could use what I use, which is Angelus dyes. They give you vivid, waterproof color, so even if moisture manages to penetrate your sealant layer (or if you're conditioning the leather rather than sealing it) the dye is guaranteed not to run. As for the clear topcoat, I do use resolene, but only ever mixed 50/50 with water -- you have to apply multiple coats to get it water-resistant (until the leather stops darkening with subsequent applications), but it goes on thinner and more flexible, and is less plasticky when it dries. If you've got any resolene still kicking around, you might try that and see what you think of it.
  4. Basically: is it necessary? I keep seeing people on youtube and whatnot stropping their ceramic blades before use, but I've been using the same ceramic filigree blade for all the work I do for... eight years now? Haven't stropped or sharpened it once, and the only time I notice it dragging is when the leather is cheap and spongy and/or badly cased. Would I be getting better results if I did? Or are the youtubers stropping unnecessarily?
  5. What kind of bit did you use in the drill? I've detached the point from a scratch awl and used that before (with a dremel press), but the last time I tried, I wasn't happy with how big it made the holes. I like how compact and tidy yours are.
  6. Wild. O_o The stuff I have causes an endothermic reaction with gloves, goes cold and shreds nitrile in under a minute. (I was using it to dilute alcohol-based dyes for dip-dyeing for a while, hence the gloves, cuz I didn't want to walk around with pitch-black hands afterward. XD) When I was using it to strip the sealant off the aforementioned project, I wasn't wearing gloves, just applying it with a rag and doing my best to keep it off my hands, but where it did get on me, it left a super-thin layer of dry, whitish skin. Not a big deal for the user, since skin cells replenish themselves so quickly, but leather can't exactly do that, so it's not something I'm keen to use anymore.
  7. I've done many welted sheaths that address the exact problem you're talking about -- if you want the handle to lay flat against the backing, you need a layer of leather the depth of the handle, that goes between the blade and the base to act as a riser. You do wind up with a lot of layers, but it fits the knife like a glove, and if you want it to taper, you can always skive the layers down as you go toward the tip (a belt sander is very helpful for getting a smooth gradient on this) -- or just be lazy and let it stay massive all the way down. Looking a bit worse for the wear after a few years, but here's one the first ones I did:
  8. It looks like you may be using the wrong kind of leather -- the texturing on it suggests that it's been milled, and you need something stiff for doing tooling. It also looks like the leather was too dry when you did your carving, which is why the knife didn't want to cut in very deep. Make sure your leather has been properly wetted, enough to saturate to the core, and then allowed some time to let the surface slightly dry again, so that it isn't soggy and clinging to your knife.
  9. I wouldn't recommend acetone -- yes, it'll take off the finish, but it's extremely caustic and it'll take off the top layer of your leather too. (I mean -- just think about the fact that there are literally no gloves that acetone won't eat through (butyl rubber will buy you the most time, but even that will lose in the end), and then think about what it's doing to the leather.) I used it on a project I wanted to re-dye, and I wish I hadn't, because it visibly, permanently dulled the surface. Even resolene couldn't bring back the shine afterward. I haven't tried Fiebings deglazer (it's not legal where I live), but from what I've heard, it seems to be the tool for the job. (And everything else Fiebings makes is on point, so I believe it.)
  10. In addition to using quality leather, it's also very important to make sure your leather is properly cased before you tool -- it will come out much, MUCH better. Trying to carve & tool on leather that is too dry or too wet will give you shoddy results, regardless of your skill level. Another secret I've found is to rub it down with a leather conditioner (I use Lexol, you can find it in the automotive department of Walmart, etc) right before you carve -- it makes the swivel knife just glide through the leather beautifully.
  11. Seconding the sheepskin idea, because I bet the lanolin in it would be quite good for sensitive skin. But if you're not looking to put a lining on the collar, then I would DEFINITELY skip the wax, that's just going to harden it. (Although you could mix it 50/50 with neatsfoot oil before you apply it, and that might work.) When I made collars (meant for people), my go-to was simply gum trag, though I've since switched to saddle soap because it slicks up nicer. I don't know if there's anything in saddle soap that might irritate sensitive skin, but gum trag is almost guaranteed to be non-reactive. (And according to wikipedia, was used in the past as a topical treatment for burns -- the more you know!)
  12. Oh man, THIS. I'm like, I'll need your husband's waist size for this. "He wears 34-inch jeans." Yeah, just humor me, measure it anyway. "His waist is 36-38 inches." Uh-huh, that's what I thought. I used to sell harnesses to the fetish crowd, and you would not believe how many people gave me aspirational rather than actual measurements, and then were dismayed when their stuff didn't fit.
  13. Cutting leather is always easier when it's wet -- whether you're using a swivel knife or something sharper -- because the water lubricates the blade. And as far as I know, "fuzz" is a fact of life, happens whether you cut it wet or dry, and there's no way to prevent it -- all you can do it smooth the fuzzies down with gum trag or something before you put your sealant on it.
  14. Seconding your last comment -- yes, definitely something to experiment with would be mixing your dye with a dense white pigment (like a gesso) because that will absolutely "brighten" the color, hopefully without resulting in a cracked surface like paint often does on leather. I wouldn't do a full, direct coat of gesso, I feel like that's too likely to crack, but I've mixed it with dyes in varying degrees and been pleased with the results.
  15. I am not even new to belt-making, and this still had some useful tips, so thank you kindly for sharing it. Re: the issue of expecting customers to provide proper sizing -- I haven't had a problem with it since I started saying in the listings, "Be accurate, not optimistic; there is a $[whatever] resizing fee if the item needs to be replaced."
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