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About Lobo

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    Leatherworker.net Regular

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    Beer, poker, good food, comfortable shoes.

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Retired holster maker.
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    how women think
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  1. About 12 or 13 years ago I hooked up with a shop providing laser engraving services. All run from a computer program, basically any image that can be scanned into memory can be replicated in any scale. My focus as a holster maker was offering the option of military and law enforcement images, such as military unit crests, badges, etc. Customers could send me a photo or other image via email, have it replicated on the new holster. The shop doing the laser work was willing to take these on as a one-of-a-kind job for a quite reasonable fee, and the turn-around time was only days. In a year's time I think we did about 5 total orders. Wasn't worth the time dealing with customer questions and putzing around with the details (photos, links to images, endless questions). Market demand did not justify the time this little idea ate from my daily schedule. Your experience may be different.
  2. OP is in Pennsylvania, son with the pistol is in Missouri. I ran into that situation several times, people wanting a holster made for a pistol I did not have and no dummy gun available. The choices were: 1. Purchase a pistol. This is viable only when there is significant demand and more orders to be expected. 2. Mr. Customer can send his pistol to me via a Federal Firearms License holder, pay the shipping both ways, pay the FFL transfer fees at both ends. Usually requires next-day air service, which is a bit expensive ($75 or so each way). Many FFL holders will do the transfers and charge $25 to $50 or so for each transfer. Another scenario is a new handgun model announced by a major maker (happens every couple of weeks for the past 15 years or so). Lots of people wanting holsters for their new guns, but no dummy guns (probably won't be seen for a year, if ever, depending on market demand). Dummies are usually available only for current production handguns that have achieved a large market share; new models and older models are seldom seen. I bought a lot of guns over the years. Most paid off over time. Some sat in the gun safe for months or years with no orders coming in. As soon as I used one to pattern and form a holster for sale the gun itself is a tax-deductible business expense (here in the USA anyway), so I looked at it as building my retirement fund with tax-free money. After retiring I sold most of them, usually making a tidy profit (which is recaptured depreciation, treated as capital gains for tax purposes with very preferential tax treatment). A few customers sent their custom or one-of-a-kind handguns to me. I really did not like to have them on hand because of the liability for loss or damages (my business insurance policy had a $1000 deductible). Considerable risk to assume for a single holster order. I thought about obtaining a Federal Firearms License so I could receive and transfer firearms in accordance with the law. But then my shop would be subject to inspection and audit at any time, and every firearm on the premises would have to be treated as inventory, recorded in the bound book, records of every transfer, background checks, all the other hassles. More intrusion than I was willing to accept.
  3. Very nice design and execution. I especially like the articulated connections allowing the straps to move with the body. A lot of thought and planning went into that project.
  4. Good idea on the leather belt loop. Another approach I have used in the past for competition holsters (and police duty holsters) is reinforcing the holster back and the belt loop using strips of 20 to 24-gauge galvanized sheet metal (some HVAC shops will give away scraps, but you want the heavy stuff instead of the lighter metal typically used for duct work), and later with Kydex. A small panel encased in the holster back panel will keep the holster rigid and resist flexing over time. A strip encased in the belt loop from the holster attachment point upward and underneath the belt will keep the holster at a consistent angle and positioning. Assembly can be done with rivets or T-nuts and machine screws through both reinforced areas making a very strong connection. I came to like the Kydex for this use. Easy to cut and shape, warm it up with a heat gun and pre-form it to any contour or angle you like to establish carry angle and offset from the body. On duty holsters with thumb-break retention a small strip of Kydex can be incorporated in the thumb-break as reinforcement. Kydex is very durable, impervious to moisture, and is dirt cheap (used to be under $2 per square foot, and that is enough for multiple projects). Some of the competition and duty handguns can be quite heavy and that weight puts a lot of stress on the leather, over time causing excessive flexing and softening at the stress points.
  5. One stitch per second is like "light speed" for those of us who hand-stitched everything for many years. I remember spending hours at a time stitching up a few holsters at a time, tearing the skin off my fingers followed by aches and pains in my hands, wrists, and arms. The day I received my Cobra Class 4 stitching machine was a wonderful day. Work that used to take the better part of an hour could be done in a few minutes, minus all the aches and pains, waking up in the morning with claws for hands that couldn't hold a coffee cup. Carpal tunnel surgeries. Cubital tunnel surgeries. Permanent damage to the ulnar nerves in both arms. Anti-inflammatory medications as a daily regimen. Prior to my retirement in 2015 I was filling 40 orders every week. Totally impossible without a power stitching machine. Still have to force my fingers to get any function during the first hour or two every day. 43 years in the business, 35 part-time and 8 full-time. Made a lot of money and retired very comfortably, but I'm still paying the price for that now.
  6. For many years I have kept a Louisville Slugger baseball bat in my car. My old fielder's mitt and a baseball ride along also. Never know when I'll find a game to play in. A nice russet potato in a sock can be handy for social occasions. Of course, they will sprout and turn mushy so we have to replace occasionally. 24 years as a cop, always carried a 24-ounce pocket sap, spring steel with a rounded flat piece of lead in a leather casing. Our old uniform pants had a special pocket along the seam of the right leg. In plain clothes I carried it in my back pocket. Came in handy more than once. Back in the 1970s a company called Damascus Industries made "sap gloves". Basically just a nice black leather glove with the knuckle area containing a pouch filled with about 8 ounces of powdered lead. Another version placed the lead-filled pouch in the palm of the hand, which provided a pretty convincing slap to the face when circumstances required such a response. Know your state and local laws! Blackjacks, slap-jacks, flails, and other such things may be classified as dangerous or deadly weapons, and little or no wiggle-room may exist for those carrying such devices. Of course, there is always a $2 roll of nickels, wrapped securely in duct tape to avoid breaking the paper roll, easily gripped in the hand to add some authority to an attention-getter pop in the face, or the ribs, or the kidneys. Also handy for pay phones, if you can find one in 21st Century America.
  7. Lobo

    Sweat And Blood

    That piece represents a lot of time, thought, planning, and effort. Exceptionally nice job! Having the sutures removed usually hurts less than the suturing! Best wishes for your recovery.
  8. For years my preference was a mixture of 50% beeswax and 50% paraffin. I had a lady who made candles mix it for me in her wax melting machine, poured into small muffin-size chunks for use in the shop. Rubbed onto the edges at room temperature, then burnished on a hard felt polishing wheel turning at about 1700 RPM, which quickly builds friction to melt the wax and force it into the exposed edges. A single 2-ounce "muffin" of wax mixture would easily do a hundred holsters or belts. After dressing the edges on a drum sander, beveling, and dying if needed, the actual burnishing process takes about 2 or 3 minutes per product. The result is a perfect high-gloss edge that is very resistant to wear or abrasion. Wearing a belt right now made about 12 years ago and finished that way. All edges remain well sealed and presentable. Holster I'm wearing dates to about 2008, still looks and functions just fine. Caution: Melting waxes will produce vapors that are easily ignited, so mixing the waxes can be dangerous when there are exposed heat sources. It is possible to mix and melt the waxes in containers (heavy duty freezer bags) immersed in a pot of boiling water without generating the flammable vapors. Personally, I provided my candle-making friend with 10 lbs. each of beeswax and paraffin wax, let her do it in her special machine, and paid her a buck per pound for her efforts. 20 lbs. of finished "muffins" gave me all I needed for a decade of production work.
  9. Another technique that can help is to wrap the unloaded pistol in Saran Wrap plastic film, rub the outside of the plastic with neutral shoe polish, in and out of the holster several times. The leather will take up the wax at contact points where it will act as a light film of lubricant.
  10. Lobo

    Hello from CO

    Also in Colorado. Pueblo County. Retired for 6 now. Used to average about 2000 orders per year for customers in 50 US states and 33 other countries. 43 years of cutting, fitting, stitching, and hide-pounding were hard on the hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Arthritis, carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel, just plain worn out old body. Anti-inflammatory prescription with the morning coffee helps me get my hands and fingers working for the day. Sold the business and now I'm a "consultant" for the new owners producing my designs and their own innovations.
  11. Nice work. Those original holsters are becoming very rare and valuable, well worth preserving, especially with the original shoulder strap. Most Japanese holsters of WW2 vintage are not leather. They used rubber-impregnated canvas, both as a war-time expedient as well as a means for dealing with the effects of tropical environments on leather products. Leather holsters, belts, boots and other equipment didn't stand much of a chance against the molds and mildews of the islands of the Pacific Theater. The Nambu pistol in my collection came with the formed rubberized canvas holster and shoulder strap. Bought it from the old veteran's family back in the 1970s.
  12. You have a scrap pile? My dogs always had chew toys.
  13. Very nice results, especially for a first attempt. Very clean lines, nicely formed and finished. Belt slots angled or perpendicular to the belt line is more a matter of aesthetics than anything else, in my opinion. To my eye following the general profile of the holster is more appealing than larger protrusions to accommodate a more vertical belt slot. Couple of comments from an old timer: 1. The reinforcing pieces you have incorporated offer little, if any, actual benefit in a pancake-style holster. Nice for aesthetic appeal, but the function of the pancake-style includes flexing at the fore-and-aft stitch-lines, so an added bit of leather on the outer side has no real benefit in retaining shape for ease of re-holstering. The pancake-style is intended to reduce bulk, and adding the patches overcomes that to some degree. Others will quickly disagree with me on this, so all I will offer is that I started making pancake-style holsters 49 years ago and have been using that style for discreet concealed carry for decades. 2. The profile of the little Ruger holster offers very good clearance around the grip-frame, important for obtaining a solid grip during the draw. The Sig holster offers much less clearance for the hand during the draw, and might benefit from a re-design to taper the leather away from the pistol grip-frame in order to allow more ease of access. I have referred to this as the need for a proper "shooting grip" during the draw, eliminating the need to shift the pistol in the hand before addressing a possible target. Excellent workmanship!
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