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About Tannin

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    Hand sewing leather, thick saddle-type veg tan leathers, green woodworking.

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Hand sewing thick veg tan saddle-type leathers
  • Interested in learning about
    English saddlery techniques, tools, leather dressings
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  1. Thanks Phil. I have a large box of mixed leather offcuts that I bought from an active saddle making company in the UK (I forget their name, would have to look it up). The quality, and smell, of the leather seems excellent to my untrained eye/nose, especially the thicker stuff. Various colours (black/tan/brown), thicknesses and surface textures. It met most of my needs so far, very well. Not sure if some/all of it would be oak tanned. I'm guessing oak tanned leather sells at a premium. Not sure how common it is for saddle making(?) these days. I think some of it is used for high end shoes too. Perhaps I should look at making something nice from oak tan - but perhaps improve my awl work first.
  2. Phil, I am also impressed to read that you use a highly polished awl. Awl shaping , sharpening and polishing tips are always welcome here - if you care to share some? Being a relative novice I struggled a lot with that, even following some of Nigels excellent and helpful tips for stitching multiple layers (something he makes look straightforward of course!). The problem being me and my inadequately prepared awls no doubt. So more recently I have been using (hushed voice) a cheap Dremel-like tool to drill my holes after first marking them out with a pricking iron. Would prefer to get away from the Dremel-lie tool but it improved my results in the short term (being a cheap copy it has only 1/10th the power rating of a real Dremel - that's ok for my needs, probably safer that way!). I am a traditionalist at heart and dislike using power tools, esp. for leather work.
  3. Sheila, I think Phil was referring to the UK's last traditional oak tannery in the UK: https://www.jfjbaker.co.uk/ Not aware of any Mennonites in UK. Phil thanks, so 6 is the magic number. I figured it would like be less that 7 but thought you might use 4 or 5, so surprised to read that you use 7.8.9 quite often. Sound like 6 is perhaps what should aim for too. My (new) J. Dixon 7 TPI iron was originally created with excessively wide tines (i.e. made excessively long cuts for my needs) but I contacted them, sent it back and they altered it for me, without question or charge (they cost an arm and a leg to purchase though!). The tines are still pretty wide though. Last I heard, J. Dixon had closed or gone bankrupt. I did hear that descendants of George Barnsley (Geo. Barnsley) were starting up again a small way initially, a year or so ago.
  4. Good to hear from someone specializing in heavy leathers Philg9. I have some thick saddle leather offcuts which I use to make edge-protectors for large axes. I've often wondered what TPI is typically used for heavy horse harnesses - I expect you can enlighten us? Love heavy horses, magnificent beasts. Quite scarce now, around here anyway, so a treat to see them. At least one old thatched farmhouse had their old heavy horse harnesses hung on the wall for decoration for many years, not sure if they are still there, as the owners I knew have passed on. Happily Wadworths Brewery in Devizes still use horses for delivering locally and, of course, marketing.
  5. Zuludog, I started with the JJ size 2 although I find myself using the 2 sizes above that more recently (caveat: I mainly stitch thick saddle leathers with 0.8 or 1mm thread, usually Tiger). You can place small orders directly with JJ on-line. Interesting to note that the English company JJ's needles are/were made in China whereas the American company Osbourne's needles are/were made in England (at least they were last time I checked)! I also started with the 7 ppi pricking iron suggested by Nigel but, again, found it too fine for the work I do, so now far more likely to use 4-6 ppi. I can't imagine ever wanting to go more than 7 ppi (but some folk do).
  6. However, it is easy to get carried away with all these compounds. To put things in proper perspective I like the review this video from time-to-time (stropping with "buff stick" begins @ 3.30), just to "keep it real": Bare leather and then beef tallow and carborundum on leather K.I.S.S. Watch his other videos for confirmation of just how sharp that knife is.
  7. BTW There is a chap on youtube who polishes an axe head to a very impressive mirror finish. He goes through a long series of progressively finer "flap wheels", papers & compounds. It took him all day. I was surprised to see him going to (presumably soft, fine) red jewelers rouge (after dark grey, light grey, green and then white compound) - using buffing wheels. I don't think he used blue compound though. The result was truly impressive. Very shiny. The sequence of buffing with the various compounds begins @ 5:40:
  8. Great chart, although I too have come to the conclusion that green is coarser than white. However, they seem to produce similar results as far as I can tell. Most suppliers recommend green for carbon steel and white for stainless-steel, which suggests to me that white is softer, as I believe stainless steel is considered a softer steel (but perhaps it just requires/warrants a finer finish?). Interesting, I've been looking into the green vs. white which is finer issue for some time and the answers vary. I used to strop with plain leather - worked fine. Then I tried Autosolv white metal polish on the leather strop, that worked well: it produced a nice shiny finish - it has some cleaning effect too. Then after reading-up on compounds I bought a large block quality white (aliminium oxide?) compound, enough to last several lifetimes! I notice that Americans prefer green (chrome oxide) compounds but white was allegedly finer, so I figured I'd use that. I bought a metal polishing kit last year and contacted the maker, they confirmed that white was finer than green. So I have some strops with white compound, some with green. I often use just one or the other but sometimes start with green and then finish with white (and sometimes a bare strop or strop with metal polish after that). BTW I've been experimenting with strops recently: - Most recently with a large MDF strop. I have green compound on the rougher side (which as expected is quickly getting flatter & smoother with use) and white compound on the smooth side. - I also made a leather "Power-Strop": 3 thick, saddle leather, 4" diameter disks glue together & mounted on a spare drill arbor). I use it with green compound. It works very well, fixing some edges that had proven stubborn in the past, so... - I made another "Power-strop", this time slimmer with a curved edge-profile, for stropping the interior of carving gouges. Not that useful it turns out as I use mainly "out cannel" gouges (which have their bevels on the outside) - they really only need a quick hand-strop to deburr the inside and the outside can be done on the basic flat powerstrop or by hand.
  9. I agree with most of the original post: colour can be a useful guide but that some manufacturers deviate from it by colouring their compounds and obviously their recipes vary. However, I believe the colour is often (not always) indicative of the abrasive used, or at least one of them. For example: - emery/carborundum/silicon carbide in black/grey coarse compounds for steel (coarse) - chromium oxide in green compound (fine) - aluminium oxide in white compound (finer/finest) I've heard the base or medium which holds the abrasive variously referred to as: wax, fat, tallow, soap. I expect all of those things - and more - have been used at different times. One forum member, a Scottish saddler, has a youtube video where he demonstrates the use of his extremely long strop, which is covered in beef tallow & carborundum. I often go straight from worn 600 grit wet & dry paper (wear probably makes it closer to 1000/1200 grit) to white compound and that works fine. Although I find myself using green alone or green first more these days, probably just because it seems to be more popular, esp. on USA forums. To be honest, I don't notice any difference between white & green compound (or white Autosol metal polish) in practice, either can get you close to a mirror finish. My working assumption is that (coarsest to the left, finest to the right): 240 grit wet bench grinder > 600 grit wet & dry > black/grey compound > green compound >= white compound >= Autosol metal polish Not sure exactly where compounds fit into the waterstone grit spectrum but ... My turn to be controversial: The big revelation for me is that I rarely bother using my 8000 grit waterstone now, because I can instead go straight to a strop with compound from 6000/5000/4000/3000/2000 and probably even 1000 grit -- you don't really need those very expensive, superfine 8000+ waterstones - they are just a very expensive, messy and time-consuming way of polishing the metal. In fact the edge produced on my 1000 waterstones is quite usable even without further stropping/honing. I aim to the get the edge sharp on the first stone I use (which varies considerably), after that any further work is just refining that already sharp edge, with the aim making it last longer by cleaning up the jagged edge.
  10. BTW My preferred final strop currently is often a power strop: I made a leather stropping wheel from 3x 4" circles of thick saddle leather fixed onto the drill arbor from a cheap metal polishing kit, which I fit into an knackered old Bosch drill with a seized-up chuck (just enough movement to fit & tighten the drill arbor), which I clamp into my woodworking bench vice. The drill has a speed control, which I set quite low. I have the wheel spin away from me. I treated the new leather wheel with a little soap (soap or beeswax was recommended - probably to reduce unnecessary waste of compound?) & then green compound. It works very well. Best of all, it cost me nothing, as I had all the parts before I thought about making it. I am also currently experimenting with MDF. I cut a large paddle from an off-cut that I had laying around, I strengthened the handle with a piece of scrap hardwood - it looks like a short cricket bat! I put green compound on the rough side & white compound on the smooth side - no leather, just MDF. The rough side seems a bit too rough but it does seem to work quite well, also both side are getting smooth, glazed even. You could probably make a pretty good power stropping wheel out of MDF. I also like the huge, long strop by a Scottish saddler on youtube (a forum member here too). It looked like a length of wall stud with a long leather strap glued to it, covered in the saddler's own "compound": beef tallow & carborundum power (coarse compared to green or white compound).
  11. It really doesn't matter that much. Although I think I would recommend smooth side up. I've seen both approaches recommended and I have strops of both types. I tend to use rough side up as a coarse strop with courser compound and the smooth side up as a finer finishing strop - but it's not really necessary to have both, either will do the job. In use, stropping and compound tend to smooth the rough side and use tends to roughen the smooth side. I still sometimes use my oldest strops, pieces of an old, suede from a worn-out old welders gauntlet (used as gardening gloves). The smooth side is glued to flat pieces of scrap wood with room left for a handle. I wasn't sure it suede would work but it worked fine. I later started using metal polish (autosol) as "compound" on it. That and use have made the strops quite smooth now & I sometimes use them for final strop/polish.
  12. Hmm, I just found a Pippin punch on Amazon by Tandy that is much cheaper than the Osbourne ones I normally see (~ a third of the price) - but they call it a "button hole punch": http://amzn.to/1NysXiQ They also show a handy size chart:
  13. Or simply punch 2 holes & cut between them with a craft knife or wood chisel. More work & only as consistent as the craftsman tho' It's a pity Pippen punches and Pippin plier punches are expensive & hard to come by. I wonder if the Chinese leather tool makers will get round to producing some - they seem to make many/most leather tools now, including a wide variety of punches but I have yet to see a Chinese Pippin punch. They'd probably end up selling on ebay for a couple of dollars!
  14. Good point. Have you considered making your own copper rivets? I came across this on youtube sometime ago:
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