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Lobo

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About Lobo

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    Leatherworker.net Regular

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Colorado
  • Interests
    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. Lobo

    Belt sizing

    Clothing manufacturers have been using "vanity sizing" for many years. Many people know their trouser waist size, but that is not an actual measurement. Example: I wear size 34 trousers, but my belts must be 37.5" from buckle engagement to tongue hole in use. I always recommended a measurement (as shown by Dwight in his post above) and made it absolutely clear that I would not accept returns due to improper fit. Also to be noted, not all belt buckles have the same dimensions, so if a special buckle is to be used with a belt that must be taken into account when making the belt. It is bad enough to have belts sitting around waiting for a customer with the correct waist size, but custom tooled belts may sit around forever before you find a guy of the right size whose name just happens to be TOBY, or JIM BOB, or whatever.
  2. Yes, basic paraffin wax. Basic beeswax. If you are going to be melting and blending waxes you must be aware of some dangers and precautions. Waxes in melted form can result in flammable vapors which can be ignited by any exposed heat source,. This is not something to be done indoors! A safer way of melting and mixing waxes is to place the waxes into heavy duty zip-lock plastic bags, immerse the bags into a large pot of boiling water until the waxes flow, then pour into molds (aluminum muffin pans work well). The best method is to find a candle-maker with a wax melting machine to melt and blend your waxes for you. Quick, clean, easy, no flammable fumes. The lady I found used a machine with 10 lbs. capacity, took about 30 minutes start to finish. 5 lbs. paraffin and 5 lbs. beeswax made about 80 muffin-sized cakes of wax, each cake of wax would do 100 or more burnishing projects. Last batch she prepared for me was done after making vanilla-scented candle wax in her machine, so my finished wax had a pleasant scent (when polishing on the wheel the shop smelled like cookies baking). When I retired and sold the business I think I sent along about 20 lbs. of burnishing wax in ready to use form, probably a 10-year supply.
  3. Here is the method I used for many years (veg-tanned holsters, belts, accessories): 1. Burnishing was done after edges were dressed, beveled, all dying completed. 2. Burnishing tool was a hard felt wheel/polishing bob mounted in a drill press, turning at ~1700RPM 3. I used beeswax and paraffin (50-50 mix poured into muffin-size cakes), rubbed cold onto all edges, then burnished on the hard felt wheel. This creates heat by friction, melting the wax and forcing it into the exposed edge fibers of the leather, and polishing the edge to a gloss. The felt polishing bobs typically last for 50-100 items, and the cost was about $0.30 each (purchased in bulk quantities). Most items (holsters, belts, etc) took about a minute to apply the wax and about 2-3 minutes to complete the burnishing. Approximately 20 pieces per hour. Short version: an excellent result with minimal time and effort. After burnishing I applied the sealant and finish coatings. The waxes provide a very good seal of the edges and resist abrasion and scratching in use. As I make this entry here I am wearing a belt and holster that were made over 10 years ago and have been used nearly every day since, and both still look very good. 43 years in the business, usually 1500-2000 products completed per year for delivery to customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries. The only way of getting it done (30-40 items every week) was by learning to work smart instead of working hard!
  4. Next time you find yourself around southern Colorado give me a shout. I'll take you around to see a dozen saloons and bars that still feature the original 19th Century furnishings, pressed tin ceilings, and hundreds of old photos from the wild west days! Personally, I prefer the public houses in English villages, many of which have centuries of history and continue to serve as a hub of daily life! Usually a better class of people as well. My first grandchild was born in Newmarket, Suffolk (while my son was serving in the USAF at RAF Lakenheath), and my family originally came from Bramerton, Norfolk, so I thoroughly enjoyed a few weeks in the surrounding areas. Cheers!
  5. Nice piece of workmanship there, Josh. Also a very good example of the usefulness of this method.
  6. The water-based dyes (marketed by Fiebings and Tandy) offer two qualities that some users want: 1. they are relatively inexpensive 2. they are non-flammable (institutional and school uses). These dyes are not very durable, largely because they do not penetrate well. This is the primary reason that most manufacturers of leather goods use other dyes and processes.
  7. Typically there will be a washer of some type (rubber, leather, plastic) on the interior of the holster with a screw passing through to a fixed nut, from the front exterior to the rear exterior. Tightening the screw into the fixed nut compresses the washer and draws the leather more snugly together in the area of the installation. A machine screw and T-nut can be used, or a Chicago screw. Depending on the size of the screw-heads and nuts used a larger washer may be useful on both sides to avoid pulling through the holes in the front and rear holster panels.
  8. I agree. Retention screws really sound like a great idea, but in practice what invariably happens is that the retention screw is always being cranked tighter and tighter in an attempt to make it work as some think it should. The natural result is that the leather around the retention screw (and adjacent parts of the handgun, typically trigger guard area) will stretch with each application of pressure, then stretch more with the next application of pressure, until all possible adjustment is gone and all that is left are leather fibers stretched beyond any hope of providing retention. With some customers the end result may take several months, but with others only a matter of weeks will go by before they are ripping your rear end for making a "retention holster" that has no retention. As with many things in life and business, it is always best to be very careful what you promise to people. What you say, even the specific words that you use, mean far less than what the customer's perceptions might be. "But you said.................", "you advertised"..............., "I thought you meant............", and THE BIG ONE "Either you give me my money back or I'll tell everyone on the internet that you're a lying crook" (If you haven't heard that one yet, you probably will). Many people have an idea in their heads of what the "perfect holster" should be (usually after reading a couple of internet blogs and watching a You-Tube or two), and when their new holster doesn't match up with their mental image they immediately jump to the conclusion that the holster maker screwed up. By that point in the game there is not enough knowledge, wisdom, or common sense in the world to convince them otherwise. Another class graduates from "Holster Genius School" every week, every one of them filled with ideas and looking for someone to turn their little ideas into functional reality. Again, be very careful what you offer and how you describe it.
  9. Probably the most useful tool in the shop was always a bench-top drill press. Used as a drill to remove broken snaps or rivets. Various size drum sanders for edge dressing. Chuck in a hard felt polishing bob for edge burnishing. I can't think of a single tool that did so many things or was used more often.
  10. The Cobra Class 4 was the best investment I made over 43 years in the leather business. I hand-stitched for years (and I have the arthritis, carpal tunnel, and cupital tunnel issues that come with that), I struggled with a couple of lesser stitching machines, then I purchased the Cobra Class 4. Excellent performance, minimal maintenance, and Leather Machine Company is always there to assist with any little issues that come up. I made holsters, belts, and accessories, typically 1500-2000 orders annually delivered to customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries. The Cobra Class 4 greatly reduced my production times and allowed me to stay on top of that side of the business easily. Highest recommendation.
  11. I'm retired now, but I spent 43 years in the business and dealt with just about every supplier around. My experience with Springfield Leather was always the best, I wish I had discovered SLC years earlier. Best regards to Kevin and the great staff taking orders by phone and putting a shine on the company name!
  12. For what it may be worth, the Colt Model 1917 US Army .45 revolver was simply the Colt New Service model with 5.5" barrel. Overall size and profile are similar (not exactly the same) as the S&W N-frame revolvers (S&W also made Model 1917 revolvers using their large frame Hand Ejector model as the basis). A holster made for the N-frame with 5.5" barrel channel should provide a functional fit, but not sufficiently close for detailed molding or boning. The ideal solution, of course, is to have your customer provide his revolver for patterning and forming.
  13. The best advice will come from Cobra Steve and Leather Machine Company. Nobody knows the business any better and I'm sure he will be willing to share a few minutes to help you toward a solution.
  14. Retired after 53 years of useful endeavors. Buy me a beer and I'll tell you more.

  15. Wet forming is a process that can only be used with vegetable tanned or rawhide, otherwise the formed shape has little way of being retained. Weight of the leather is determined by the intended purposes. I regularly used 7/8 for most holster applications, but 8/9 and heavier for really heavy pieces. I also did thousands of holsters made with two layers of leather cemented together, flesh side to flesh side, then made into holsters with total finished thickness/weight of 12-15 oz. All of these can be wet-formed, the differences being in the effort required to do the forming work and the drying times required. For most applications in our shop I found that water at room temperature worked just fine. I have also worked with very warm water, which tends to penetrate more quickly. My usual procedure was to immerse a holster into room-temp water for about one second per ounce of leather weight (7/8 oz. leather for about 7 to 8 seconds), then proceed with the basic forming to the handgun. I then placed the new piece into a drying cabinet (more later) with internal temperature controlled at 120-130F for ten minutes. Next step was the first detailed forming using the "boning" technique (smooth tools to force the leather into a final contour). Then another ten minutes in the heated drying cabinet, followed by a second "boning" to finish that process. That was followed by an hour or so in the heated drying cabinet. Horsehide requires much longer exposure to water prior to the forming. It is far more dense than cowhide and resists moisture infiltration, usually requiring 30 minutes or more in the water before wet-forming could be done. The application of heat in the 120-130F range has the effect of releasing the collagens in the leather fibers and a significant hardening effect on the final formed piece that enhances the wet-forming process and provides a more lasting effect. My drying cabinet was made from a kitchen wall cabinet 18"W X 30"H X 12" depth. I drilled dozens of 1/4" holes in the top to allow heated air to escape, and holes lower on the sides and back to draw in fresh air by convection. The heat source was made with two porcelain keyless light fixtures at the bottom controlled by a rheostat (dimmer switch) with 120V house current as the power source and 100W light bulbs to produce the heat. A thermometer near the top provided the internal air temperature, and the rheostat allowed control within the desired range. Drying holsters were hung on wire hooks inside the cabinet. Capacity was about 12 holsters at a time. All this might sound a bit primitive, but it worked very well for many years during which I produced 1500 to 2000 pieces every year for customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries. All of my cutting was done by hand, assembly by hand, stitching on a Cobra Class 4 (Leather Machine Company, highly recommended) machine, wet-forming and boning by hand, and all finish work by hand methods. The only power tools in the shop were the stitching machine, a drill press, and a sander (for edge dressing). I retired 5 years ago with over a million in the bank, so maybe such primitive methods are still worth considering.
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