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About zuludog

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    Leatherworker.net Regular
  • Birthday 04/25/1950

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    Northwest England
  • Interests
    Backpacking, Car mechanics, Model aeroplanes, Knifemaking, Leatherwork

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Knife sheath making
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    general leatherwork
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  1. I have never made a holster, and probably never will, but I have made knife sheaths and axe covers, which are of similar construction The leather used is 3 to 4 mm thick, so the combined thickness of the front, back, and the welt will be about 10 to 12 mm; this is the method I use Cut out the pieces for the sheath, including the welt.........glue the pieces together with contact cement and trim the edges Mark the line of stitching on the front & back, using dividers set to 4 or 5 mm Use a stitching chisel with 4 to 5 mm spaced prongs to make holes along the line of stitching. Typically a stitching chisel will only penetrate up to about 7 mm thickness Transfer the workpiece to a clamp........complete the holes with a saddler's awl, using the part formed holes as a guide.........pay attention that the awl emerges on the line at the rear, and with the correct spacing; with a bit of practice you can do this quite quickly and accurately. The awl blade needs to be very sharp & polished so that it glides through the leather easily, with hardly any effort. If you struggle the work will not be neat, and you will get tired & frustrated, making the process even worse. Saddle stitch and finish the piece as usual
  2. Yes, line the jaws with leather, that is usually done with sewing ponies, saddler's clams, and similar devices Have a look at relevant videos, and of people sewing up finished items, and you'll see the sort of clamps and the area of leather they use
  3. Who knows how or why people choose hobbies & interests? Why does one person make model ships; another collect stamps; another go soapbox cart racing; or someone else is very keen on opera and the theatre? My father in law was having a tidy out, and offered me an old knife.....a Mora; rusty, the sheath was ragged, and being a Scandinavian style it didn't have finger guard, which I didn't like. I mentioned this to a colleague at work, who went shooting and did other outdoor stuff; he suggested that I could fit a new handle, and gave me a catalogue of an outdoor accessories supplier, which included knife making. This looked an interesting idea, and I found the British Blades Forum, since closed down I realised I would have to make a new sheath, but had no idea of how to do it, and I was till working, so didn't have much time, though I did collect a hawthorn branch, already fallen, on one of my hiking trips A couple of years later I took early retirement at 61, and started on the knife by fitting a new handle......got a leathercraft book from the library, which was very helpful.......bought a starter kit from Tandy when they still had a store in UK, and found a day long sheath making course at The Identity Store, since changed their name to Identity Leathercraft. The course was good, much better then just learning from YouTube After that it was a case of improving my skills, acquiring new tools, and so on. At first leatherwork was just a means to an end for making the sheaths, but I've become more interested, and make sheaths, belts & wallets I've combined the two hobbies, by making some of my own leatherworking knives, and other tools, and their sheaths
  4. You have a decent set of kit already, but here are a few comments - See how you go with the Craftool chisels; if you decide to change consider the Craftool Pro, which Tandy list as Fine Diamond, or the Tandy Pro by Since You can improve the Craftool by polishing the prongs with fine abrasive paper, say about 600 grit wet & dry, there are YT videos. Lubricate the prongs a few times with beeswax as you use them, and hold down the leather with a small block of wood as you pull them out. Tandy needles have large eyes, in fact they are often called Tandy Big Eye Needles - OK for thicker thread and leather, but I would seriously think about changing to the JJ needles and better thread; though I notice that Tandy sell 0,6mm Tiger thread in shorter lengths. Most people try a few types of thread before settling on what they like, and soon build up a collection. It wouldn't be too expensive to get the JJ needles and a few lengths of Tiger & Twist thread If you're happy with the edge bevelers fair enough, but you could try sharpening them. Search YT for 'sharpening an edge beveler' As for the mallets & mauls, I think most people have bought things then found they didn't like them and had to change. It's all part of the fun! If you haven't done so already, get a round/scratch awl, they're cheap enough. It is used for various poking & prodding jobs in leatherwork, including temporarily stretching the stitching holes, which will close up again when you've finished sewing
  5. Yes, I also know this as the chain stitch, but have only seen it used to sew sacks of bulk dry materials like grain, flour, sugar, or cement. Search Google for sack sewing or sack closing machines I suspect it has been mostly replaced in making leather goods by the sewing machine lockstitch. Unless it's important I would saddle stitch by hand If you contact some of the sack closing machine manufacturers they might be able to help you
  6. Tandy have two types of stitching chisels, which do you have? -- Craftool have round handles and a black finish; Craftool Pro have flat handles and a silver finish..................Craftool measure the distance between the sides of the prongs, so the distance between the points if about 1mm more than that, so 3mm is about 4mm and so on, and the prongs are a bit bulky..........Craftool Pro measure the distance between the points, which is more usual, and the prongs are a bit finer Try out the chisels you already have, whatever they are, and see how you go from there. If they are the Craftool you might want to change, but if they are the Craftool Pro you can stay with them for a while. Remember that the hole these sort of chisels make is actually a slit, and will close up after you've flattened the stitching Top end chisels include Amy Roke, Crimson Hide, and KS Blade; they will obviously do a good job, but are undoubtedly expensive. Get some experience with what you have, they you'll be in a better position to choose, and maybe avoid an expensive mistake Rulers are used both for measuring and cutting, get a good one Some of the best needles are John James Saddler's Harness needles item code L3912 - size 002 for general leatherwork and size 004 for finer work like wallets. They're not too expensive, so you could get both. For general leatherwork use 0,6mm dia thread, for finer try going down to 0,45mm dia. Ritza 25 is popular; it has a picture of a tiger on the label so it is sometimes called Tiger Thread. It is usually sold in full reels which makes it expensive to buy into, but some suppliers, such as Rocky Mountain Leather Supply rewind it into shorter lengths. I like the Chinese Yue Fung thread, which is sold by RMLS under their own label Twist RMLS also sell JJ needles Edge bevelers are sized by the width of the tiny blade at the tip, typically on a scale of 0,1,2 and so on. However, there is no common standard, each manufacturer has their own idea, so the only way to get a decent gradation is to stay with one maker, which is not a bad idea anyway. For wallets you need a small size, but eventually build up a range, and learn to sharpen them, there are videos I notice that Tandy have started selling Since tools, which are worth considering, and their edge bevelers look good, though I haven't used them myself Are expensive tools worth the money? That question is asked here frequently, and ultimately only you can decide, but if you can afford the money it is worth getting good quality tools. Get some experience with cheaper tools, and you'll be in a better position to make that decision. Also watch videos on the items you'd like to make, and you'll see how other people do things, and the tools they use
  7. I've been thinking about stitching chisels, and have a suggestion Chisels with wider spacing, about 4mm and more are used on thicker leather like belts & knife sheaths. Chisels with smaller spacing, say 3mm or less, are used on thinner leather, like your proposed wallets & notebook covers. However, the narrower spacing is more difficult to sew neatly So here is my suggestion, which is to some extent a compromise; I'm guessing that you haven't actually used a stitching chisel, so before you spend a fair amount of money, start off simply and build up from there I would just get just one chisel, a Tandy Craftool Fine Diamond Chisel, item code 88057. I think this is the Pro line chisel recommended by chuck123wapiti with a new name; certainly it looks the same as the #88057 chisels that I have, and they are stamped Craftool Pro The spacing is 3,5mm which will be OK for notebook covers, yet not too big for wallets, at least to start with, and fairly easy to use & sew. It is decent quality, but not so expensive at $27-99 that if you change you'll feel you've wasted your money. Get the 4 prong chisel; it is not too clumsy, will cover a reasonable length of sewing, and if you only want to do a couple of stitches, like at the end of a line, you can just move it back into some of the previous holes See how you go on with that, then you can add chisels with different numbers of prongs & spacing as you wish On these chisels the spacing is measured by the distance between the points, but Tandy Craftool with the black finish are measured between the sides of the prongs, which means, for example that the 4mm are actually just over 5mm between the points There are, of course, lots of other types and no doubt there will be other suggestions -- welcome to the fun!
  8. Your list is fairly comprehensive, but some of the items are expensive - top quality, yes, but still expensive. If you are willing to pay that, fair enough, but you can save some money by shopping around for tools that are a bit cheaper, but still good quality, without going down to the absolutely poorest & cheapest I only know of Tandy, Weaver, and Rocky Mountain Leather Supplies in the USA, but I would have thought that between them you would find a reasonable choice An Exacto is too light for all but the thinnest leather. Get a Stanley/utility/box cutter knife. You can resharpen the blades, and they seem better, probably because you've reduced the shoulder of the bevel, and polished them; in fact even new blades work better if they've been stropped. Have a look at YT videos by Ian Atkinson, he does most of his work with a utility knife You can use the ruler or the straight edge for cutting, but you will, of course, need a ruler for measuring Needles & thread - John James Saddlers Harness needles item code L3912 size 002 are some of the best; beware, make sure you get size 002 and not 2/0, which are too big. If you're making wallets you might want to go smaller, size 004. 0,6mm dia thread is a common size for general leatherwork, but for wallets you might want to go down to 0,45mm dia. Most leatherworkers try a few types at first then settle on something they like. Ritza 25 is popular but usually it is sold in large rolls which makes it expensive to buy into; however RMLS have rewound it into shorter lengths. There is a picture of a tiger on the label of Ritza 25, so it is sometimes called tiger thread. I like the Chinese Yue Fung thread, both linen & synthetic; this is sold by RMLS as their own label 'Twist' brand The stitching chisels are expensive; shop around & consider the other suggestions. Prongs with sharp points are slightly easier to place than those with flat points A scratch awl is used to mark out shapes; open up stitching holes, and all sorts of other poking & prodding jobs, and they're cheap enough Dividers or stitching groover? I've used both, but I prefer dividers. You might find that a groover removes too much from thin leather You can probably find a cheaper stitching pony or make your own, on the other hand Dream Factory is good, and you'll have it done. Palosanto bevelers are good, but expensive so shop around; I've heard good reports of Barry King & Weaver An edge slicker/burnisher is cheap enough. I notice that RMLS are selling off the flat or slipper type for $7-99 Don't bother buying card, use things like the packets from breakfast cereals. I also use them to make mock ups of new items and things I'm not too sure about. This gives me an idea of what the finished article will look like; the sequence of construction; possible problems; the amount of leather I'll need - old cardboard is a lot cheaper than leather ! The Barry King maul is expensive; consider a cheaper hide or nylon mallet, not necessarily from a leather craft supplier - try your local hardware or auto parts store Yes, get the Palosanto Japanese knife, it will be good quality. You can use it for skiving and cutting, especially as you will be making wallets which are mostly straight lines - again, there are videos A couple of things you haven't mentioned -- An awl, meaning a saddlers/diamond awl with a diamond shaped cross section. Yes, you will use the stitching chisels most of the time, but there are sometimes places where you can't use them. Also they will only penetrate up to about 7 or 8mm of leather. For anything thicker, start with chisels then complete the hole with the awl. Get one ready mounted on a haft, with about 30 mm of exposed blade, medium quality. To keep the costs down they usually only come with a basic finish; you are expected to do the final sharpening & polishing yourself. This applies to other leatherworking tools as well, and you buy them on that understanding. It is only when you buy the most expensive & exotic makes that you can use them straight out of the box. Sharpening - you will need to sharpen your tools, so you'll need a sharpening stone - oil, Japanese water, ceramic, or diamond, or very fine grades of wet & dry paper. And a strop; you can buy one or make your own, but get a proper stropping compound, green chromium dioxide is as good as any. There are loads of videos about sharpening & making a strop Use a second utility knife or a cheap snap - blade knife for pattern cutting and things like opening parcels, cutting string, and sharpening pencils. Its purpose in life is to make sure that you use your leather working knives exclusively for cutting leather. Watch videos of making the things you're interested in, as many as you have the stamina for; then you'll see how other people do things, and the tools they use. If you are cutting straight lines on thin leather you could consider a rotary blade knife, such as Fiskars or Olfa
  9. A corkscrew! This is an invaluable tool for obtaining protective covers for awls. But then you have to do something with the surplus materials.............
  10. Thanks for the link, it's very useful. You can choose an English translation
  11. BOICIE - I've just re-read your post -- "still need a bit of force to get the needles through" You should be able to push the needles through easily enough with your fingers 90% of the time. They should slide through easily but not be so loose that they fall out on their own - I've seen this described as "a satisfying drag" The exception is when backstitching, when you might need to push with a scrap of thick leather or your awl haft You might need to pull the needles out with pliers. You can get pliers with smooth jaws to avoid scratching the needles. I use a small pair of general purpose pliers; scrub them with kitchen surface cleaner to remove any dirt or grease; tape the jaws; use them at right angles so the needles are in line with the serrations and not across them Even if you've made the holes with a stitching chisel you might need to tease them out with an awl afterwards. When you hammer the sewing with a mallet or a cobbler's hammer afterwards, the slots will close up again. You can use a diamond awl; a round awl; or make a smooth & blunt diamond awl known as a soft awl Make sure your needles are not too big. I use John James Saddler's Harness needles ; item code L3912; size 002 for general leatherwork; size 004 for thinner leather like wallets. Note -- John James sizing system is a bit confusing. Make sure you use size 002 and not size 2/0 which are too big There are many videos on leatherwork; watch those by Ian Atkinson; JH Leather; Nigel Armitage They all sew neatly with hardly any effort
  12. You seem to have a good grasp of the situation already, but here are a few comments - As you've said, pricking irons and overstitch wheels make shallow indentations to show the position, then you make the holes with an awl. This is the traditional method, but you need a fair amount of practice to do this quickly, accurately, and neatly, so for this reason it has mostly been replaced by stitching chisels, though you can still use this method if you wish Stitching chisels both mark the position/spacing and make the holes; they have evolved into two types - The French or European style which have prongs with flat sides and a flat tip; the holes they make are a slit The Japanese or Diamond style which have prongs with a diamond cross section, and pointed tips; the holes they make have are diamond shaped Diamond are easier to place; French are trickier to place but some people think they give a more attractive finish, though there's not much in it, it mostly comes down to individual skill Round punches or small drills will make the holes, but they do actually remove some of the leather, so you rely on the thread being thick enough to fill the hole. Awls & stitching chisels do not remove material, they make a slit which closes up around the thread - as you say 'tighter on holding the leather'. Generally speaking, wider spaced holes are easier to sew, but closer spacing is neater. I use 5mm for axe covers & knife sheaths; 4mm for general leatherwork like belts, bags, and pouches; 3 or 3,5mm for wallets. Thread is 0,6mm for first two, 0,45mm for wallets I would just carry on with diamond chisels. You can improve them by polishing the prongs with fine abrasive paper like wet & dry glued to a thin sliver of wood like a lollipop stick or thin aluminium. Depending on how rough they are, work your way from 400 to 1,000 grit in a couple of increments. This is a bit tedious, but you only need to do it once. There are a few YouTube videos about this Lubricate the chisels with beeswax and when removing them hold down the leather with a small block of wood right up against the prongs, to avoid distorting your line of stitching. A steel hammer will damage the chisels, so use a soft hammer like wood, nylon or hide, but not rubber as this bounces Have a look at YT to see how other people do things. JH Leather mostly uses pricking irons & awl, but she is a professional saddler and has years of practice. Stitching chisels will only penetrate about 8mm of leather but you can use a similar technique - use chisels as far as you can, then complete the hole with an awl Which reminds me - 'trying to force an awl through tough leather' It is relatively straightforward, and therefore cheap, to make a basic tool, but to get the final, razor sharp finish you run into the Law of Diminishing Returns - the need to do more & more fine sharpening & polishing, usually by hand. So traditionally, to keep the cost down, many leatherworking tools only come with a basic cutting edge, and you are expected to do the final stage yourself. It is only when you buy the most expensive and exotic makes that you can use them straight out of the box. There are YT videos on sharpening awls and other leather tools Which awl are you using? The 4-in-1 awl that's often sold for beginners isn't very good (that's the polite version!). You're better off replacing it with a simple fixed blade awl. A properly sharpened awl should slide through leather with hardly any effort
  13. I'm not sure if this supplier sells waxed canvas, but they sell lots of fabric for outdoor clothing & equipment, mainly synthetic, plus buckles, and other accessories that might be useful I have bought from them a few times, and they are reliable, pleasant, and helpful. They are based in Britain, but as you've said, that might not be a problem for you https://www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk
  14. Just a suggestion........ If you haven't done so already, Search YouTube for 'beginners tools for leathercraft'; there are several videos.......although they are similar, each one is slightly different, so you can make up your own choices & variations
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