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About Lobo

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Retired holster maker.
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  1. Very nice concept. I always kept my dummies hanging on the wall, arranged by make and model. Lots of nail holes in that wall!
  2. Lobo

    Cobra Class 4 issue

    Here is a thought for you: try calling Cobra Steve and the gang at Leather Machine Company. Couple of times I ran into a glitch with my Cobra Class 4 there was always someone happy to walk me through it to a happy solution.
  3. I used sides just about exclusively for everything. When a new order of sides came in I would lay them out on the work table and make some measurements to lay out my belt straps in various lengths. I started at the middle portion of the side, with straps laid out on a diagonal from back to belly, then cut 6 or 8 straps from each new side (in lengths appropriate to make belts in the usual sizes with minimal waste). The remaining two pieces of the side went on to become holsters, magazine pouches, cartridge pouches, handcuff pouches, etc. Just about all of my belts were two-layers of leather, usually 2 X 6/7 oz or 7/8 outer with 6/7 liner. Any straps with minor blemishes became the lining layers, keeping the more perfect straps for the exposed outer layers. When constructing a new two-layer belt I reversed the straps, with the back-end of one strap laid over the belly-end of the liner strap. This evens out the finished thickness without a lot of skiving, splitting, etc. Cement them securely together then stitch them up. Belts used to carry a holstered handgun and accessories can be subjected to a lot of stress. Single-layer belts, even when cut from the heavier leather, will frequently start to show significant wear in a year or so of daily use. My two-layer belts are much stronger and stretch much less. The one I am wearing today is about ten years old, has been used to carry a full-size .45 caliber 1911 pistol, spare magazine, and cell phone pouch daily, and shows no signs of ever wearing out.
  4. Lobo

    Knuckle duster

    RE: Hardening formed leather. Two methods that work well and are easily implemented without a lot of specialized equipment: 1. As a part of the wet-forming process the item can be heated to ~120-130F for 30 minutes. What this accomplishes is allowing the collagens within the leather fibers to flow and reinforce the formed shape. The result is a piece that is significantly harder than one simply allowed to dry at room temperature, and the formed shape is better retained. 2. Perform the wet-forming using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) instead of water. The formed piece will dry much more quickly because the alcohol evaporates faster than water. This results in a very hard finished product. NOTE: Do not apply heat during the drying of alcohol, obvious fire hazard. To be avoided, if hardness of the finished product is the goal, is any use of oil in the finishing process. Neatsfoot oil, oil-based dyes, and other penetrating finishes will result in softening and increased flexibility.
  5. I started in 1972, having only a brief introduction to leather crafting in public school about 10 years prior (as I recall I made a key case for my mother). Found a couple of books in the public library, read a few articles by those with some experience. There was no Internet, no Leatherworker.net. Basically, I had to learn every step and every process by trial and error. Somehow that must have worked because my little holster business was a good sideline during all my years as a cop. When the internet came along I started offering a few products on-line, and that generated other orders. I developed a website and the business took off like I never would have imagined (customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries). I became the businessman needing help. I hired and trained several people, including some good workers and a few slackers, but by the time they started becoming reasonably productive their lives took other directions. For several years I felt more like a babysitter than an employer. The employees always got their days off, holidays, vacation time, and paychecks. I never had a day off, never took a vacation, and (depending on cash flows) frequently had to short myself to make payrolls. Personally, I think a paid apprenticeship would be a wonderful idea! Young person pays me to teach a trade, maybe that young person would place a higher value on the lessons learned. Sold the business in 2015 and retired for good. Only leather work I have done since has been a hat band for my new Stetson.
  6. I never dealt with Etsy, always took orders via e-mail link on my website. When payment was received the order went into the production schedule. When completed I sent an e-mail notification and mailed out the package. Shipped an order to a customer in Houston, TX. Package was returned "addressee unknown". Sent another e-mail, never heard from the customer again. Held the order for a year, then sold it. Sent out an order to a customer, then was contacted by his widow. Poor guy passed away after placing and paying for the order. I took it back and refunded sale price. Sent out an order to a customer with an apartment address. Thirty days later she had not received her order, so I made up another one and sent it to her business address. Shortly after she contacted me, her original (opened) package had been found in the bushes outside the apartment house. Apparently the mail thief wasn't interested in a new holster. Received a bank check in payment for an order, including a delivery address. Completed the order, sent the package to that address. Customer contacted me couple weeks later, no package. Sent him the mailing information, he went ballistic; the address provided by his bank was his FORMER ADDRESS, over a year old. Fortunately the package came back to me and I was able to send it to the new address. Used PayPal for on-line payments for quite a few years. PayPal requires delivery to the registered address, and quite a few of those are out of date. Thus a fraud protection policy can result in lost shipments. Then there was the customer in Israel, ordered a holster with request for no identifying markings, mailed to a PO Box address (no name), paid for the order with US currency in an envelope with no return address. I learned about taking foreign checks or money orders when a Canadian customer sent me a check (denominated in US dollars) written on his Canadian bank. Deposited the check in my business account, then saw the next bank statement showing a $70 fee for processing a foreign check. The check was for $85.00 US. Several European customers were irate when they received their deliveries and found out that their governments expected them to pay the import duties and/or Value Added Taxes. Several celebrity customers insisted on having purchases sent to an agent's or employee's address, apparently didn't want me to know where they lived. Some days in the business were a little more interesting than other days.
  7. Lobo

    This MUST be a Joke!! ...Nope!

    How can we expect Darwin's principle (survival of the fittest) ever work properly with warning labels? They say there is no cure for stupid. Warning labels may be an attempted cure.
  8. I suggest that you scroll up the Forums page to the sub-forum "Marketing and Advertising" where you will find dozens of posts discussing various venues and marketing strategies. Personally, I started out in 1972 as a young police officer with a mortgage to be paid and hungry kids to feed on skinny paychecks. If I needed or wanted a holster, belt, or accessory I learned to make them so I didn't have to drain the household budget. The others I worked with saw what I was doing and started asking for my products. So I had a little sideline hobby-business with co-workers and referrals as my customers for many years. After retiring from law enforcement I went into another business, but continued turning out a few holsters and accessories each week and month. By about 2004 I was offering a few products on-line, which resulted in requests for other products. I started a website and within 6 months I was working 7 days per week in the shop to keep up with orders, no time for anything else. I hired and trained assistants and continued working on new products and improved designs while completing and shipping about 2000 orders per year to all 50 US states and 33 other countries. In 2015 I had gone nearly 9 years without a day off, without a vacation, without a holiday. I was earning great money and had savings, investments, and retirement plans that I never dreamed of having. But I was dead tired and totally burned out. I was ready to shut the business down and retire completely. Then along came a good family from Iowa who ran a leather business with other product lines and wanted to purchase Lobo Gun Leather. We struck a deal and I went to Iowa for a few weeks to help with the transition period and first few production runs. They are still doing very well with my original product line and their own innovations. I remain on staff as a consultant, no real duties or obligations but I serve as a sounding board for new ideas and marketing efforts. My suggestons: 1. Identify your market niche. Look for under-served market segments. Don't try to be everything to everyone; concentrate your efforts on one segment of the market and an assortment of proven products. 2. Keep the day job until the business grows to a level that sustains your needs. At the same time, keep the business manageable; don't take on more work than you can complete within the promised delivery times. 3. Do not try to grow a business on borrowed money; you will just end up working for the bankers. 4. Spend an hour or two each day going back through the posts on this forum. Pay attention to the contributions of others who have gone before you, information about what works and what doesn't, what sells and what doesn't sell, etc. This forum is a great source of knowledge and guidance. Best regards.
  9. Lobo

    Cuz taxes didn't suck enough ...

    The recent efforts to collect sales taxes (similar to the UK VAT) has become an issue in the United States since the growth of the internet and on-line shopping. Such purchases have undoubtedly reduced sales and tax revenues from traditional brick and mortar stores across the country, and the various states and local authorities are attempting to replace those lost tax revenues by attaching taxes on internet sales. The United States of America has always been a collection of individual states, each functioning as the primary government within its borders. Originally the national government was charged only with national defense, postal services, foreign affairs, and regulation of interstate commerce. This system of governance was called "federalism". Starting in the 1930's under the administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt the national government began usurping state and local powers, centralizing authority at the national level. This was usually accomplished by subsidies and revenue sharing schemes, essentially offering state and local political authorities large pots of federal dollars in exchange for surrendering state and local control. This has been going on for 3 full generations of Americans now and most simply do not recall that we were intended to have far more control over our own affairs than has become the norm under federal control. Hence, a Department of Education dictating school curricula and enforcing compliance with funding; a Department of Health, Education and Welfare dictating local benefit programs and enforcing compliance with funding; an Environmental Protection Agency with near-dictatorial powers over land use, development, etc, enforcing compliance with funding; and many more centrally-run programs that are used to control local government affairs (and elections) via funding, or threatening to cut off funding. None of these functions or entities are mentioned in or authorized by the US Constitution, and are thus of questionable legality to begin with; however no one seriously challenges such government over-reach because to do so threatens the primary revenue stream of state and local governments. Here in the US our form and systems of government are fundamentally different than any others. Everything is based upon our Constitution as the bedrock of law, and the Constitution serves primarily to constrain government while guaranteeing the rights of individual citizens and the various states. Perhaps needless to say, many politicians do not like having their powers and authorities limited, and the debate over the constitutionality (legal basis) of laws and programs is never-ending (I am sure confusing, if not comical, to European observers). So, a bit of an answer to your questions and a long-winded dissertation on American government and polity. Best regards.
  10. Lobo

    Cuz taxes didn't suck enough ...

    Let's see now: 50 states and 3 or 4 territories, plus the District of Columbia. Each is a separate taxing entity. Each state has counties (usually several dozen each). Each is a separate taxing entity. Each county has incorporated cities and towns (frequently several each). Each is a separate taxing entity. Then there are fire protection districts, ambulance & emergency medical districts, library districts, transportation (bus, train, subway) districts, metro districts, municipal utilities, and several other types of taxing entities. Postal zip codes frequently span multiple taxing entities, so a customer's address is not an accurate means of identifying appropriate taxing entities or tax rates. How is a small business or mom & pop shop expected to identify each and every one, calculate the taxes for each, maintain accountability for collected tax revenues, file appropriate tax returns (hundreds and hundreds of those every month or quarter), and remit collected taxes to every taxing entity? If a given taxing entity makes a complaint against a business about taxes collected or remitted that complaint will usually be handled by local authorities. How is Joe Businessman in Maryland supposed to respond and deal with such a complaint in California? Answer: pay an attorney or suffer a default judgement and tax lien. Without doubt, complying with such laws and regulations would be an extensive and expensive exercise, well beyond the capabilities of most small business operations. The likely result will be the destruction of countless smaller businesses across the country. Bad ideas make for bad law. Bad law makes for angry and disaffected citizens. Bad law, such as this, may also fuel a vast underground economy that is beyond any possible enforcement effort.
  11. Lobo

    I must look stuped ...

    I think it was P.T. Barnum who said "There is a sucker born every minute". Probably the reason some salesmen try to do business the way they do. Seriously, home improvement contractors of all trades are looking for the low hanging fruit on the tree. A job that takes $1000 in materials and $1000 in labor/overhead is frequently quoted out at $3000 to $6000. The really creative contractors have arrangements in place for financing, with a cooperating finance company offering "low, low monthly payments", and instead of talking about total job costs they sell jobs based upon the monthly payment a customer is willing to pay. Car dealers do the same thing. When a customer walks onto the lot the salesmen seldom want to talk about price or vehicle type, all they want to know is "What sort of payment are you looking for?" Buyer beware. Do your research first, then when a salesman starts into his little schtick, take your wallet with you and leave.
  12. Nice looking work there. The H&K P7 (PSP and M8) offer some challenges for the holster maker. Overall very short length, weight heavily concentrated in the grip-frame area, and that squeeze-cocking mechanism on the front grip-strap. Any holster design that contains enough of the pistol to provide reasonable security can too easily obstruct ease of draw (accessibility), and high-ride designs can too easily allow the weight to cause the holstered handgun to tip out away from the body (compromising both security and concealability). You seem to have overcome those challenges quite well. Best regards.
  13. 43 years in the leather business, of which I spent nearly 30 years hand-stitching. I started with a very basic machine, which I soon learned would not hold up to production work for my products. I then purchased another machine, which did a pretty good job, but was under strain at times with heavier work. I ended up purchasing a couple of very heavy duty machines of the type commonly used by saddle makers. Best advice I can offer is to purchase more machine than you think you will need. That way you will never strain the machine in use, each task will be handled with less time and effort, and you will probably never wear your machine out in use.
  14. I made a lot of two-layer belts, specifically intended as gun belts (good support for the weight without needing to be tightened on the waist to an uncomfortable degree to stabilize the holstered handgun). I used two layers of 6/7 oz, or occasionally a 7/8 oz. outer strap with 5/6 oz. liner strap (hard to tell them apart). Typical finished belts were about 3/16" to 7/32" in thickness (just about 6mm). I frequently cut lining straps from hides having minor imperfections, which I considered to be a good use for that leather. Plenty strong enough for the task, and any little cosmetic flaws were never visible in use. The belt I am wearing right now was made about 10 years ago and has been used almost daily to carry a full-size 1911 .45 pistol, spare magazine, and cell phone. It shows no signs of ever wearing out, and has not stretched at all in use, just conformed nicely to the hips over time.