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Everything posted by philg9

  1. For my strops, the only leather that does the job is panel hide, glue it grain siode down so the underside is facing up, dont need to boil it etc, cut to size of your board, glue it down, I glue a bit on both sides, one soide I smear jewellers rouge for cutting and de burring, then the othersid eof the strop is left as is, I use the plain side after I have done a blade on the jewellers rouge for the finla polish. If ther eis burrs on a blade, I will use a fine wet and dry paper first, then go onto the jewellers rouge then the plain side.
  2. Martyn, all good stuff this, I make all my own waxes for my harness work, including the traditional saddlers black pitch wax. With Coad, along with the beeswax and pine rosin, the traditional recipie is to add add some tallow to the mix once melted, it will bring it to that proper thread wax consistency. I do pourt my Coad mix into warm water, about 25 degrees once its all melted then scoop it out and knead like I do with the black pitch wax, it then comes out at the same consistency. I find without Tallow, the Coad can be a bit crunchy and can have crystals left in it if it isnt crushed to fine powder first.
  3. Hughlle, I'm a harness maker in the UK, the contact glue I use is the solibond 949 contact adhesive from Abbey and I find thiis covers all I need, it isnt stringy when you put your spreader in the tin and it soreads lovely onto the leather with no after mess to deal with and if left for the correct time to go a bit past tacky to the touch then it will glue and stick well. I only work with Bakers oak bark tanned hides for my work and that can be a bit greasy as it's hand stuffed with natural grease and the only way is as you have now found out, sandpapering both surfaces before glueing is the only way. The biggest problem I see folk struggle with when it comes to using contact adhesive is they put too much on.
  4. I dont think Tandy has the same standing here in the UK or if it has it doesnt show on my radar. I remember once I had a look at their website, lasted all of two minutes and left laughing. Folk who are serious about their hobby or job use Abbey saddlery.
  5. Hi Alex, I'm a full time working harness maker in the UK, tooling leather is not my thing and I usually skip by it as it doesnt do a lot for me but in this case, I've looked at the braces you've made and safe to say this piece of work has impressed me, top job, and where credit is due, you'd make the top professionals sit up and take note at the detail in these proving yet again, leatherwork from the UK is a hard one to beat.
  6. Blimey, Marcus gear are still going, havemt heard of them for years, I used to buy a bit of the Swedish Tarnsjo harness leather off them from time to time.
  7. I've just had a look through the link regarding pricking irons, there is a big distinct difference between these irons for leather goods and harness and saddlery. Those wide teeth pricking irons are no good for harness/saddlery work, so yes, it is important to source the right ones for the work being done. There is one hang up for me in the modern world of irons, I really do not like the sizing in MM they are now sold with rather than the traditional TPI. Another personal thing, the cleaning up of old tools. the majority of tools in my workshop are old originals, they have a working life which has ranged up to and over 100 years in some cases, I leave them as they are with the patina etc they have gained over the years apart from the blade, cutting area. I like this aged patina on them as it is part of their history and character. I could spend time cleaning up and polishing the bodies on all my vintage pricking irons to make them look new but to me that would be like scrubbing away and erasing their character and the patina they have come to have from being around in the various workshops and hands they have been through over many decades and the unpolished character they have reflects the age they are, its like older folk who have face lifts, why remove the accrued patina and character. I get why people do polish old tools within an inch of theior life but they just do not look and feel the same. I always have this inner glow about my workshop, it is a working workshop not a show room.
  8. That is a common story Bert, folk reminiscing about how they used see their Dad's and Grandads out working with the horses when they were young but dont see it now. It's always fond cherished memories. As you say, there are pockets where it still goes on as here in the UK with folk farmiing small holdings and small farms with horses but more often than not it is at ploughing matches and working shows which are still a traditional strong hold that is alive and well. There is a strong heavy horse community in Australia, but again, its the showing and working weekends where they are seen out. I have customers and freinds out there, one set of freinds who emigrated out form the UK in recent years took their Shires out there and are running the same business as they did here in the UK doing weddings and tours with their heavies, they are doing really well as it's popular.
  9. Cheers Ferryman, thankfully there is still a strong ploughing fraternity in the UK, mostly at ploughing matches and Demo's at working days but there are still folk out there who plough, seed and crop land with horses but sadly we are reaching the last generation of plough men and women who worked the land when working horses were a common sigjht on most farms. I am based and work out of North Essex of which East Anglia is still a strong hold for heavy horses.
  10. This pic is the above pairs set on the horses being driven at show in the traditional English brewery turn out style.
  11. This pic show the raised bevelled breeching seat and the box loop tugs and trace carrier parts form the above set waiting to be sewn into the breeching seat.
  12. And this picture is one half of the patent leather pairs show set that goes with the above bridle.
  13. I will reply to above posts as one rather than individual posts as the same question is asked. Firstly thankyou for your kind words. As we are in corona lock down and so far, a lot of the summer horse shows and events have been cancelled, these bridles will not be seen out on the horses but no doubt the customer may well put the team together at home at some point so if I do get a pic some time this year I will be sure to add it here. The bridles have been collected so I have to wait now to even see them on. I would imagine bridles of this style are not seen much in the U.S.A. The bridles I see from over the pond are different in the way they are made and fit on the horses. So for now here is a picture of another of the same style bridle I made as part of a pairs set so you can see what they look like on a horse, this one being a grey Shire horse. I had to crop it to get it down to size.
  14. Just read this post as am a new member here, I'm a long term harness maker in the UK, did you manage to source a blade for your 6 inch splitter.
  15. This is a recent comission I completed recently. Four traditional heavy horse style driving bridles for a team of Shire horses here in the UK. These are show standard bridles with patent leather winkers and rolled leather winker stays, raised front noseband and brass clincher browbands. It's not often 4 in one order comes in these days, it's usually single or for a pair so was particularly pleased to then hang the 4 up for a photo shoot. I had to crop this picture to down size it to be able to load it here. The stitchng on the winkers and the face piece front is done at 8 to inch, the rest is 7 to the inch using traditional waxed linen thread.
  16. Your welcome Geoff, to answer your question, I do not know any suppliers of saddle grade leathers in Italy. I only use the oak bark tanned leathers from Bakers in Colyton, Devon for my harness work so have no need to shop around or have a few sources to go to as Bakers produce all I need. By chance have you come across David who runs DLB leathers, he would be a good guy to ask for a source of leather you may require, look up DLB leather on face book, he has his pages on there, he generally has a good selection, another general leather store aside form Abbey is Metropolitan leather near Nrothampton, they keep a wide selection of all sorts, they have their own web page, just google their name and you will find it.
  17. I hand stitch most of my work as well. I specialise in heavy horse ( Draught) harness so am working with the thicker leathers form 4 MM up to 5.5 MM thick oak bark tanned harness leathers. I am in the UK so I do not know what the equivalent is in weight that fellow leather workers in the USA buy leather. As my work goes on a ton of horse and multiples of in pairs and teams for heavy work, the stitiching is paramount. The thread I use is the traditional twisted and wound and waxed linen thread, the brand is Somac which is produced in the UK. I only use the black thread for harness work in the UK, we do not favour white thread as it does not look right on this work. The grades of thread it is rated at that I use ranges from 18/3, 18/4 and 18/5. The numbers relate to the strand thickness and how many strands are twisted and wound to make up the thread, so each strand is 18 weight, so for instance, 18/4 means there is four cords of 18 weight thread. This provides superb hard wearing strength and durability. Tiger thread is something I do not use as it is not condusive for the oak bark tanned leathers as it can have a habit of cutting into the surface of the leather once in use, especially if sewn too tight. Although the thread on the cops I buy is pre waxed, I still wax the thread before I put my needles on each length. I make up the traditional black wax myself from Swedish pine pitch, I melt this in an old pan with beeswax and some lump rosin to stop it melting on warm days and make up balls, you pour a blob of the melted pitch and beeswax in a bowl of cold water then instantly pick it out and then you keep kneading and working it hard in your hand to squeeze the water out until you feel it starting to set hard, at ths point you can roll it into a ball say the size of a base ball, then lightly coat it in talcum powder to stop it sticking while it fully sets. There is no better wax for waxing traditional linen or hemp threads. The only synthetic thread I use is polyester cotton core spun thread that I run in my British United Shoe Machinery No 6 heavy harness machine, in the USA, you call these Pearsons which was the first pattern version iof these machines before they merged with B.U.M.C. I only use the machine for long runs for making traces and breechng seats, all else is predominantly hand sewn with the saddler lock stitch.
  18. I am in the UK and I do not recognise that style of ID on bridle butts, but the only thing I may be able to shed light on is on some panel hides I've had in the past have had gold coloured numbers stating the square footage has been on Italian hides. What you have could be from any nunber of finishing firms or wholesalers. Might be worth getting in touch with Abbey and sending them pic sof the marks, Mike might recognise it if they stock similar.
  19. For the heavier work that I use my British United Shoe Machinery No6 for, the only thread I use that I find works best with no shredding or fluffing the thread is this Coats terko satin thread, it is a polyester cotton core spun thread. It runs superbly through the machine and the machine loves it as it sets the stitches beautifully and firm. It does have a waxed coating as it goves of a white waxy dusting once its been through the machine which is just fine by me as I dont have to pre wax dry unwaxed thread or use the wax pots on the machine. There is a lot to be said for modern threads. I am in the UK and I dont know wether this thread make is available in other countries but if it is I highly recommend it. The reason I use this thread is because it was recommended by the very experienced saddler/harness maker freind I bought the my machine off some years ago and I have never had reason the change the thread I use as it's performance is perfect. The picture of the bevelled breeching seat is the finished result of my machine stitching with this thread sewn at 6 to the inch on Bakers Oak Bark tanned harness hide.
  20. Your welcome. I would say that as the offcuts come from an active saddle making company I would have thought it will be Veg Tan. That is most common everywere nowadays and I cant say I see or hear of saddles being produced form Oak Bark. It is distinctive in its smell and feel that Veg tan does not have and you dont see Oak Bark tan bridles and tack etc in tack shops or see finished bridle and tack products in Oak Bark advertisd as that on line. There is plenty of trouser belt makers using it and shoe and boot makers. When I speak to folk about Oak Bark, they generally say Ooh that must be premium priced and expensive but no, it is on a par with Sedewicks, you'll be paying about the same but Oak Bark is the superior. I charge it out at £14 per 1 inch strip for harness backs and sedgewicks is the same, and both the same for bridle butts and strapping shoulders. Oak Bark bridle butts can be stiffer leather as it's not as heavily greased as harness backs than Veg tan on purchase but over time once its been worked and then put to use n a horse then it supples up with grease feed to be the best feeling supple leather imaginable in a way Veg Tan doesnt. In my mind Veg Tan goes soft and floppy rather than what I call supple and firm.
  21. Tannin, regarding awls, I do not sharpen them as sharp edged awls cut the leather too much when pusihng through the leather on the work I do. The very tip will be sharp enough to make the initial incision then the first 1/3 of the blade is what open the hole up, I want the hole to open up not be sliced open as when the stitch has been done and pulled to tension, this will close the hole up a bit as the thread will sort of re seal the awled holed. Past the tip, the four facets are well polished. I will polish a new awl blade if I need to replace one but then after that, continuous use will also polish and keep the two edges smooth and sort of rounded so those two edges do not cut the leather, they sort of prise the fibres apart rather than cut, cutting the fibres will weaken the leather between stitches and this can cause problems later on when the work has been in it's intended use. You will find veg tanned in mulitple layers is worse to sew than Oak Bark tanned, the fibres in Veg Tan tend to rip rather than accept a smooth awl as at times you will see fluff sticking out of an awled hole in veg tanned and the same when pulling a stitch through, Vrg tan is drier and more fibery inside as it isnt as greased as Oak Bart Tanned is. Oak Bark Tanned leathers have a much tighter fibre structure than Veg Tan. When sewing say 3 layers of Veg Tan, depending on the leather, you have to go through the first layer, pull the Awl out, go again, then might have to go again to make one awl hole, but with Oak Bark tanned you can glide through as if the leather is sucking the Awl blade in and once an Awl is going well with the Oak Bark, I rarely have to touch it again but also technique does come into play. The awl blade I find needs to be more sharp sided to sew layers of Veg Tan, this is where it cuts the fibres which isnt good whereas a polished awl with more rounded sides will wedge stuck in Veg Tan as described above by having to go at a hole a couple of times, this could be where you are having Awl issues. If you tried with Bakers Oak Bark tanned, you would be putting the Dremmil into a dark draw and leave it there. what leather do you usually keep in for sewing. If I do polish an Awl, it is only done with Autosol on a dedicated strop for Autosol use only.
  22. Sheilajeanne, as what Tannin writw, the Bakers I refer to as I am in the UK is Bakers tannery in Colyton Devon UK. Thjey ar ethe oldest and last remianing tannery still producing the best quality oak bark tanned leather for the saddlery, Harness, leather goods and Cobbler trades. their leather is the best we have in England and far excells the quality of any Veg tanned leathers which I rarely use. I doubt they will have any connection with the Bakers you refer to. There has been a Tannery on the same site since mid 1700's by all accounts and it has been in the same family for generatons.
  23. I can thoroughly concur wth your write up Nigel, regarding stitching irons, awls , hole size and the rdde of thread in saddlery and harness work. I'm a long term harness maker in UK and that write up covers it as it should be. The only thng I can add about pricking irons is the width of the teeth on the modern made irons I've seen. They are far too wide for my liking as you can still see the ends of the slants in the leather after stitching through the work, I wont have them on my bench. It's only the old originals that work for me as the teeth are that much narrower and do not leave such long slants and as I awl the smallest holes I can get away with for the heavy horse harness I make I dont want to be seeing pricking iron teeth marks left in the leather,. On some of the student days I've had, they bring their tool box and the youngsters mostly have wide teeth irons for saddlery stitching as that is what is available and affordable in their early years learning. I've always been a fan of the old T Aams and Buck pricking irons and crew punches.
  24. Indeed, heavy leathers is not so common thee days but thankfully Bakers stil provide what I need. I cannot be doing with Veg tan for my work, it isnt half the leather of the oak bark in strength and dsurability. Heavy horse harness made form Veg tan stands out like a sore thumb, so not the right leather for it, so much so it does not even look right. As for TPI is typical. Most all heavy strap work like breeching seats and crippers, the breeching back strap, all retaining straps like brake straps, chain carrying straps that all feel the force of a ton of horse are done at 6 TPI, 6 is the magical number as it isnt course looking like a 5 TPI would be but still has full strength as your likely to get and it still leaves plenty of leather between each stitch. If heavy thick straps are sewn to close like 8 or 9 TPI then it weakens the leather somewhat. Next I use 7 TPI a lot for hame straps to latch the hames onto a collar, all driving reins, Bridle cheeks etc martingale and other decorative straps and parts, Clincher brow bands although will use 8 TPI for a brow band to go in a more refined set , then for some finer nose bands, more decorative parts especially on patent leather decorative parts especially for show harness I will use 8 TPI, then occasioanlly if I am making some decorative parts that are to be something that bit more special then I will occasionally break out a 9 TPI, so it is a combination of those three sizes mainly, I have irons up to 18 TPI but I dont ever use that fine, they just make the irons look a completr set on a tool board above my bench. They are all old irons as one thing that drivs me wild is the modern made irons, most of them have a teeth width that is far too wide for me. I much prefer narrow teeth irons. With those, you mark your stitch marks with them then after you have stitched through the work, the teeth are that wide you can still see the ends of the slants top and bottom of the stitch, this makes any piece of work have an ugly finish, just doesnt do it for me, also folk who punch awl holes far too big then necessary, then when you look at the stitching afterwards, you can see the thread but it's in a dirty great gash. with heavy horse harness, one thing that needs to happen is once you have pulled each stitch tight, it should close the hole you awled up a bit adding to the strength.
  25. I suppose everyone has teir own way woith theor stitching, and for me,. that is based oin the type of work I do. As it is all heavy horse ( draught ) horse harness and tack, I am often working wiith thicker heavier leather than most other work where at times with strap work, it's 3 layers of 4 MM harness backs prepped, tacked up and hand sewn in the full 3 layers making anything from 15 - 18mm in total. It's technique much more than brute force and well polished awls. also bearing in mind is the job this harness has to go and do. It has to contend with a ton of horse of a single set of harness, coveriong strength, durability and as much if not more the fit and comfort for a heavy horse in work in work hauling heavy stuff and ploughing etc. The stitching has to reflect the rigours the harness will go through. Things like awl hole size are important on heavy horse harness, too big a awl hole is not so good for my work as I want as much leather between the stitches for strength. I see other leather work and the leading and lower ends of the slants the awl leave are wider than the row of laid stitches, wider slants help more to get a more pronounced herriong bone look to the stitch. Thread, I always use Somac waxed linen thread, 3 / 18 4 / 18 and 5 / 18 is the three common soze threads for me , Tiger thread is harsher on the surface of the raditional oak bark tanned hides I use from Bakers in Devon, UK, Tiger thread can have a tendency to cut through the surface especially when certain parts of the harness are really being put through its paces and the horse is working hard. I make ,my own wax from traditional pitch, beeswax and Rozin and melt it down and ball it up in cold water, no wax is beter for harness work and with the linen thread it works the best for strength as when stitching woith linen thread and proper harness waxed thread when you pull the stitches through it melts the wax a bit and then after some time, the wax sets hard around the thread which in time creates what is call a post inside the leather, makes like a cement which has extra grip to keep the leather together and stong even of the outer part of the stitch has worn away over the years in use. One thing when stitching, I work form the fornt of ny work, that's how my hands work best to do saddle stitch, I'll put the grain sode needle through forst, cross the needles over on the flesh side then the second needle is passed throiugh while pulling the thread of the first needle with it then when the second needle is half way through, I have the thread of the first needle in my right hand then I will make a clock wise loop over the second needle then pull the second needle through the loop then lay the stitch as usual, this creates what I suppose is a lock stitch insode the leather much like a sewing machine, but the purpose of doing this loop over the second needle each stitch is that this is what melts the wax I run the thread through pre stitching to then become what is the post inside the leather, If I didnt loop it so the two bits of thread inside the hole are not entwined as it were, the two thread sections would be seperate, if the stitching wears and or breaks the thread would just peel undone whereas by making this loop over the second needle each stitch, if the thread does break or wear on the oiuter surface then the post that is cemented from the wax inside the leather, then this will keep the leather together, it just makes it stronger again all round durable stitch.
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