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About Ian

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  • Birthday 01/22/1957

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  • Location
    Western Massachusetts
  • Interests
    Anything related to leather working, but especially pattern making and construction techniques

LW Info

  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Motorcycle seats and bags
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  1. I read an arcticle about the top 10 industries which are expected to dissapear in the US. Leather and leather products was number 2. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-american-industries-that-will-be-destroyed-in-the-next-decade-185519670.html This will affect the leather craftsman in a big way. At present we have a couple of good options for American veg tanned leather and a few more for Mexican leather. These tanneries don't rely of the small craftsman who buys a half dozen sides a year - they wouldn't stay in business. Their principal customers are manufacturers of finished leather goods. As those industries disappear from our shores, the tanneries will have to rely on exporting their hides to Asia. So, like every other thing, it will be a matter of time before they are tanning all leather in Asia, and what we will be able to purchase will be imported Asian hides, if they even think it's worth while supplying such a small market vs factories that use thousands of sides a day.. American veg tanners have had a bit of an advantage in that veg tanning is a lot more time consuming than chrome tanning. The Asian industries look for fast production times. Much of the chrome tanned leather for auto upholstery and garments is tanned in Asia now and thousands of container loads of hides from American slaughterhouses are shipped over. Some are returned, once tanned, for dying and finishing here, but the majority are finished and used in Asia, and we import the finished products. American chrome tanners supply much of the high end American manufacturers, but once those are gone, will it be feasible for any of them to stay in business? Will it even be feasible for Mexican tanneries to stay in business? While some industry may return to the US, I doubt that leather tanning will be one. The cost of compliance with enviromental regs is too high. In Asia, there are few regs and the waste is just dumped into rivers and oceans. As our industry dissapears, it is not a simple matter to bring it back. The skills involved dissapear as well. Technitians who have developed their skills over a lifetime retire and are not replaced. You don't just train someonbe who can oversee a huge tannery operation overnight. I just can't figure out what Americans will be DOING in 20 years. Not everyone is cut out for work in a cubicle, pitching financial and medical services. All I can say is , thank God I'll probably be gone in 10 years and won't have to see what has become of everything that used to make us interesting and diverse.
  2. I think he came up with the idea himself. Don't know how it's working out for him. It's like a sling, I guess
  3. I finished this one for a guy. It's a bit rough for my taste, but tricky getting all the molded pieces to fit, and the stitching isn't the best . Also I had a heck of a time getting the dye even. I'm not really familiar with molding - tried dying before I molded and dying after I molded. It seems like the leather compresses differently and doesn't accept the dye the same in different areas. Is that normal?
  4. I am making a briefcase for a customer, similar to another one I did recently, except, the last one was chrome tanned, and I want to use russet harness leather for this one, since he wants a rustic, beefy look. Though I like HO russet, I'm going with W & C because they have a splitting service and I need 5/6 for the body and 3/4 for the gussets. So here's my questions: From the samples I have, W & C harness looks quite light in color. I'm wondering about the darkening of the exposed leather versus the covered parts, under flaps, etc. Should I cut my pieces and lay them out, exposed to the sun for a while to darken them up, so that later darkening will be less evident? The sample I have looks glazed, and I'd prefer a less finished look - any possibilities for dulling that down a bit? Finally. I don't want to paint the edges - just burnish and leave them natural. What would you suggest as an edge finish to keep the edges from roughing up over time. I use a Weaver power slicker for most things and that darkens light colored edges. Would bees wax and hand slicking be a better option. How would you handle that? Again, the look I'm going for it precise, but utility, if that makes sense. I'd be grateful for any input. Ian
  5. Finished my first holster for a friend's 44 Ruger. 24 bullet loops. I was pretty nervous since I know nothing about making holsters and of course he couldn't leave the gun, so I was crossing my fingures that it would fit - it did, like a glove. He just picked it up and was pleased with the result. Now I'm thinking of getting a few blue guns and trying some molding
  6. That is interesting. It looks like if you built a table to recess the machine, it would be easy to feed a side through. Does it come with a variety of spacers, or do they sell them seperately?
  7. Thanks, again, Don. I saw the edge painter at Weaver's sale this year and was tempted to pick one up, but I always hate to get anything without a recommendation. I should have known someone on LW would have used one. Thanks much.
  8. Thanks Don. I was thinking of going with the Weaver too. I could kick myself - I passed on one someone was selling for $800 a couple of months back, almost new, because I didn't have the spare cash at the moment. Another couple of questions, if you don't mind; I'm assuming you have to re-adust when switching from, say, 10oz to 12oz, but how does it handle the vatiation in thickness from one end of the side to the other? How do you handle re-sharpening the blades? Shapening a round blade is beyond my expertise. Do you send them out to be re-sharpened? On an off topic, have you ever heard how good the strap edge painter that Weaver sells is (The one with the 2 round foam pads)? I need to edge a boatload of leashes and they need to be done perfectly.
  9. I am looking to purchase a strap cutting machine. The two options I'm looking at are Weaver's hand crank cutter and the Cobra power strap cutter. They are priced similarly at about $2,000. It won't be in constant use - just a few sides at a time. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has had experience with either machine. How easy it it to set up, can one person feed the leather through, etc. Thanks much Ian
  10. Very nice - I like what you used for closures. As a big cheerleader for Waterhouse Leather, I wanted to mention that they carry 5/6 oz milled veg tan (they have it in black). It's super nice - big clean sides, and costs less than most veg tan, and the thumbling makes it soft too. Congrats on an awesome job!
  11. Yes, the reality is a sobering thing. I'm remembering the days when hundreds of small owner-operated businesses flourished - shoe and clothing stores, hardware stores, pet shops......I look around my town, and there's barely even a privately owned restaurant - everything is a national chain. I travel a lot, and from California to New York, every shopping mall has identical stores. I used to love hanging out at the feed store, until a Tractor Supply moved in down the road and that store closed. It's nice having a huge variety of products, but we sure have lost a lot in terms of human interaction. Opening a full time business will mean lots of hot dogs and beans. But I'm still not 100% convinced that it's not a possibility........... I bought an Adler flat bed machine from a guy who used to have a small awning business. One day he was offerred a contract sewing job making some kind of filters for manufacuring. He ended up with 7 employees and was grossing a million and a half a year before the imports floored him. But, stories like that always give some hope that putting yourself out there will result in the 'big break'. It keeps me going anyway.
  12. Thanks Ray....very cool message. Spent half the day polishing the bike, finished a gun belt and am feeling a lot better about the whole thing. In six years I'll be joining the Social Security crowd and I can be the old hippy I always wanted to be.
  13. Thanks for the very good advice. I'm lucky that I have a job that pays me well in addition to the leather business and foolishly thought I'd quit that to do the leather business full time again. The thing with part time is that I'm in the shop every day on the weekend and at night, so everything else is put aside. It becomes more of a chore than why I got into leather in the first place - because it's so much d**n fun. So there is a big attraction to working 5 days full time in the shop. Just unrealistic. I'm thinking I'll spend a few bucks to insulate and sheetrock the 2 car garage, install heat, etc. So I'll be adding value to the house as well. I guess all the other frustrations go along with the business. Oh, Double C the machine I'd been using is an Aerostich pnuematic. I used to cuss about it all the time, but what a joy to be sewing with that one again today. I don't think you'll ever regret buy a machine. You'll be amazed at all the different things you'll be making once you get it.
  14. I suggest you try Waterhouse Leather - they have some beautiful bag leathers
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