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About JDM

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    Shooting, gardening, gold prospecting, computers, etc.

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  • How did you find leatherworker.net?
  1. When hand sewing, how do you prefer to groove the inside stitch lines for holsters? I mean the outline of the handgun on the inside along the trigger guard, cylinder or undercover on an auto? I mean how to actually make the grooves following your predetermined stitch lines on your pattern on the front side of the holster as well as the back. Do you draw out the top with a pencil or whatever, poke through with an awl, then create the groove on the back using a freehand grooving tool following the awl pokes? If so, I hope the grooving tool cuts better than the defective one I just bought. If you want dual matching stitch lines, how do you mark and cut the second line to accurately match the first? For a production item, I'm thinking a stencil made for the task would work best for all of this, but how do you do the one-off's? Maybe I'm just disgusted with the non-cutting ability, bad from the beginning, as in can't even be stropped to be fixed, made in China freehand groover I paid too much for, but surely there is a better way to go about doing this than trying to drag a rough tool down a pencil line or on the backside following awl hole pokes that you can't even see very well.
  2. The guy in the video is wrapping it around once, forming a single overhand knot (first part of tying your shoe). He goes around more than it might appear at first because he is putting his right needle behind the left needle. So he needs a full turn. My understanding is this doesn't really add anything to strength. Advantages are the diagonal slant to the stitches, possibly more consistent appearance of the stitches, plus a knot can help prevent a stitch from loosening before you sew the next one.
  3. I did a test piece using USMC Black leather dye. I dipped the thread in the dye, let dry, waxed and sewed. After using vinegaroon to blacken the leather, the thread is already losing some of its color. Are there better options for dyeing unwaxed linen thread? I'm using Barbour 5 cord "natural" color thread.
  4. I don't know about Hermes leather. Doesn't look like it to me in that video. Here is a video of more obviously "throwing the loop":
  5. I know this is an old thread. I'm getting back into leatherwork, and this mystery of thread twist for hand sewing mattering or not continues to bother me. So, I paid close attention while sewing without setting the awl down. I mean Stohlman instruction book style, except throwing the left side thread over (clockwise as viewed from the left, off side of the piece) to create an overhand knot, as I do and Jimsaddler and others advocate. I am right handed. I am unsure whether "throwing the loop" over makes any difference to twist tightening or loosening. I could argue that issue both ways as well as neutral. However, I noticed that juggling the awl and needle back and forth in my right hand, at least the way I do it, which is whatever comes naturally, tends to wind the thread in a clockwise from thread end (right twist) direction. So do minor hand rotations when pulling stitches tight, particularly when deliberately pulling the right hand side slightly downward and the left upward, as you would want when "throwing the loop." I can see where this could add up over a long thread run. A portion of a rotation or so each stitch could make a difference. Best would be to be tightening the twist, not doing the opposite. Is this effect enough to matter? Maybe or not. I suspect few still hand sew one awl poke and stitch at a time, and for those who don't, I doubt any of this really makes much difference. It may not either for those who do depending on their particular technique.
  6. Living here in the Arizona desert, I sweat in the summer when outdoors. A lot. The sweat shield (which is actually intended more as a shield for my skin) on the 1911 pancake holster I made a couple years ago and have been using since has been thoroughly soaked countless times. Now I want to make an IWB holster. It will get wet also, probably more so since it will be in closer contact with my body. Got to looking at several designs and noticed the Milt Sparks Heritage holster: http://www.miltsparks.com/Heritage.htm It is a lot like the old Summer Special, except it is made with two layers of leather glued together ala Katsass' usual method. They advertise it as having a "waterproof liner" between the inner and outer leather. That got me to thinking. Do they use a separate membrane, or is the contact cement between the two leather layers waterproof? So, I did a test. I used a scrap of nice, what looks to be 9ish ounce Hermann Oak leather (which is very smooth on the flesh side). I cut some squares a little over an inch and glued them together using Weldwood contact cement. Pounded together. I also brushed some cement along the edges of the leather to serve as a dam. I let that dry overnight. Then, I set my glued piece on a kitchen plate along with a single layer of the same leather. I dripped water on the top, adding more as it soaked in, not allowing it to run down the sides. Eventually the leather became so saturated that a puddle remained on the surface. After 15-20 minutes, the single layer was soaked all the way through and was leaving moisture on the plate beneath it. After a full 2 hours, the bottom half of the double layer showed no signs of moisture. So, based on this I'd say contact cement is a decent moisture barrier. How practical that will prove for keeping a pistol drier in an IWB holster is still a question, as sweat could drip and/or wick down the inside of the "sweat shield." Still, it has me seriously considering going with a laminated holster instead of single layer.
  7. I'll try some paraffin next time I encounter a stubborn edge. When I experimented with vinegaroon I couldn't get the edges burnished nearly as nice as the same untreated leather. The 'roon treatment seemed to change the leather.
  8. In which applications and why is one more useful to you than the other? I'm asking because I haven't used paraffin in leatherworking, and I'm wondering what properties or benefits it has compared to beeswax. I've used a mixture of beeswax and rosin to wax my linen thread. I've used a mixture of neatsfoot oil and beeswax as a finish application. I've read of using paraffin for burnishing edges and various other things, but I don't understand what qualities it provides.
  9. Just wondering if anyone makes a "die" and "shellholder" that can be used in a single stage reloading press to set snaps. I reload, and I have a press attached to the same bench I use to work on leather. Surely I'm not the first person who has thought of this. If nothing is commercially available I'll try to rig something up.
  10. JDM

    Homemade Tools

    I finally put a handle on this knife. I have some aged apple and pecan chunks to use for barbecuing. Found a chunk of apple that was about right, so I used it. I cut the slabs down to rough thickness using a hand held bow saw, then flattened on a sander. I used JB Weld to glue on the scales, and the brass pins are from the "safety" rods in a Spyderco sharpening set. So, I managed to make this knife using only things I had on hand. I don't have any other round knives to compare this with. It cuts leather a lot nicer than a utility knife.
  11. JDM

    Homemade Tools

    Good point about the blade thickness. The tang thickness on mine is about 1.25mm. It tapers down considerably before the edge. The picture doesn't show very well, but I formed the main bevel before heat treating, though I left the very edge a bit thick (too narrow is supposed to cause issues with overheating burning out carbon or something like that). After hardening I finished it up with a hand file, then used various grits of sandpaper on a mousepad to create a convex edge. Finished on a strop with rouge. Apart from one portion of the radius that needs some more work (where the blade warped slightly) the knife is sharp and cuts well. The pull cut portion is great. I have a good size pile of scraps and shavings built up from testing while sharpening, and the big bald spot on my left arm is just now starting to fill back in. The knife actually seems to hold an edge fairly well. I can cut leather a lot better/cleaner/easier with it than the only other thing I have to compare it with: a utility knife. I have no idea how it compares to any other head knives. Next time I make something like this, I'll try to use some known steel. I've been busy with other things and still haven't put on a handle. I initially made a cardboard pattern with the basic lines, but redid it several times and then later ground away more metal and reshaped. I could trace the end result, but if you make one you'll probably want yours a little different. So, go with whatever you like. As I may have mentioned before, I think I could shrink the round portion for my needs. Reducing the large, flat blade area may help prevent warpage issues when quenching. To me, the pull cut part of the blade is the most useful. labrat7357, I've also read about old saws being pretty good for such things. Not only crosscut saws, but even the bigger blades from sawmills. And, of course, older smaller circular saw blades. I've read to avoid newer blades, particularly those with carbide tips, as the blades are likely unsuitable steel. What steel and quench medium were you trying when you had problems with cracking? Sounds like maybe you quenched an oil hardening steel in water. That can crack it. I've been told to test unknown steels by first quenching in oil. Check hardness with a file. If hard, oil works. If not, try quenching in water. If hard after that, it is water hardening. If still not hard, you're out of luck, though for certain parts you could case harden the surface. I doubt that would work very well for something like a knife. Edit to add that I forgot to mention I quenched this knife blade in used cooking oil contained in a small coffee can. More oil and/or better technique on the first quenching try may have helped the warping issue.
  12. JDM

    Homemade Tools

    Thanks. I like the overall design, particularly the ability to do pull cuts with that rear portion of the blade.
  13. JDM

    Homemade Tools

    I've seen a lot of posts of really excellent looking tools made by people who have nice tools to make tools. Great stuff. Amazing in some cases. I'm fairly tool-poor. Making stuff is a lot harder, and often downright frustrating, when you don't have the right things to do the job. Below is a rawhide maul I made several months ago. It works very well. Total weight ended up about 25.5 ounces, IIRC. If anyone is interested, I posted the details of how I did it somewhere here before. Now I'm working on making my first knife ever -- a round knife for cutting leather. It is patterned after the modified round knives shown at leatherwranglers.com. I cut the pattern from an old 7 1/4" circular saw blade using cut-off wheels in a dremel. That was real trial of patience. The old saw blade seems to be good high carbon steel judging from the sparks it threw. This is interesting: http://en.wikipedia....i/Spark_testing i also hardened and then tempered a small test piece to make sure I could deal with the steel I was using. I don't know how many hours I have into this knife so far. Many. Got it cut out, altered the shape some to suit me, hand filed the blade bevels, etc. Hardening was a real pain. I really need to make a small oven. First, I tried a 500K BTU weed burner with the knife tied to a piece of rebar in open air. With that, I could get parts of the blade non-magnetic, but couldn't get the whole thing hot enough. Switched over to a little hibachi grill loaded with lump charcoal and blown with a hair dryer. First time quenching, the blade warped. I heated and pounded back to shape. Reheated hice and not, and quenched again. Warped again. After several more iterations of that process, I finally got it hard with relatively minimal warpage, though still slightly bent. I tempered at 400 in the kitchen oven for an hour or so. The picture attached is after removing from the oven. The steel is springy, yet still hard. I think the heat treatment was about right. I'm not sure what to use for a handle. I drilled the holes to accept the brass rod included with my Spyderco sharpening set.
  14. My first maul took a while. There are things I would do differently next time. Final weight is about 25.5 ounces. A place or two on the head and a few of the disks near the handle ended up being a little on the short side of final diameter. I originally intended to turn the head down closer to the washer edges and shape the handle differently, but the difficulty of working with this stuff using redneck improvised tools altered those plans. Some shaping was done using a handheld belt sander clamped in a bench vise (which itself was clamped to a picnic table), along with a weight plate dangling from a wire to hold back the trigger. Better than nothing, but it didn't work very well. I couldn't push very hard due to the plastic sander case flexing and fear of flipping the whole thing out of the vise. Plus, the good-quality, but very old, sanding belts kept breaking at the seams. I went through 3 of them before I gave up on the belt sander. I ended up final shaping the handle using strips of broken belts by hand, with the maul head clamped in the vise, working my way round and round. I couldn't get the handle as even as I would have liked. A lathe, or any other means of spinning this thing, would have worked magic and greatly reduced the amount of labor. Dry rawhide and the compressed leather handle are far tougher than someone who hasn't worked this stuff might think. Forget about using a Dremel. To make the 1/2" center holes for the head and handle, I bought a 3/8"? pipe nipple (inside measures very close to 1/2") for a couple bucks at the hardware store and sharpened/polished the outside of one end. That made a suprisingly durable hole punch. It cut through everything I did without resharpening, and the edge still looks and feels pretty good. I used the Lignum Vitae wooden maul I scored at a swap meet for $10 for most of the whacking. If you aren't familiar with that wood, look it up. It is amazing stuff. BTW, the LV maul shown here weighs about 24.75 ounces, only 3/4 ounce less than my finished rawhide maul. The hardware was from a local surplus-type place. Good prices, but they have what they have, not always exactly what you want. I bought the parts shown, along with another washer and regular hex nut. Since I had to stack odd-size washers to make the head ends, I centered them and welded together. Because there was a lot of slop between the center hole and the bolt, I welded some blobs inside the washer to serve as spacers. I then ground them down evenly until the bolt barely fit through while being centered. The picture shows what I mean. Before welding, I stripped the zinc plating off the parts that had it. I soaked in vinegar for a couple days. If you're in a hurry, stronger acids work quicker. In case you are wondering, the handle end cap nut is probably chromed. Vinegar didn't touch it. After I got done shaping the head and handle, I used a friend's setup to blast the metal parts (worn 70 grit aluminum oxide) and then parkerized them. The rawhide head is solidified with 6 nails that extend anywhere from 100% to 80% through the stack. I had to shorten and repoint the nails I had on hand so they would work. I drove them all in from one end (pre-drilled the holes) The handle disks are glued together with Weldwood contact cement. To make them, I marked using a compass. I punched the middle out positioning the punch on the center point, then cut around the edge with a utility knife. Make more than you think if using an end nut that doesn't have much adjustment, e.g., the cap nut I have. The leather will compress over time. It's best to crank it down and wait, much the same as the head itself. I should have let the rawhide disks dry more before initially clamping them together. I had let them soak for around 36 hours(?) to soften thoroughly so I could cut the outsides of the circles using heavy kitchen scissors. Being too soggy, and maybe also from clamping too hard, the inside holes got squished around. After drying, I didn't have a nice, even 1/2" hole all the way through the middle. Looking down the hole, there were obviously voids off to the sides. After the head was completely dried and nailed, I filled those spaces in with JB Weld. I spooned some inside the head and ran the main bolt through wrapped in a couple layers of plastic wrap. That worked fairly well. If you have some release agent handy, you could probably more properly "bed" the thing similar to doing a rifle action. So, next time I'd go for only slightly damp on the rawhide to begin with, and, if possible use a smaller bolt size for stacking/clamping during the drying process. Drill to final size after fully dry using a drill press (yet another thing I don't have), then turn the outside to final shape. As for drying, I left the head in the vise for a good 2.5 weeks as shown in the picture, then removed and used some clamps to let it dry from the inside, which it needed even here in the above average for this year Arizona heat. I let that go another 10 days or so. One end warped a little. The middle of the stack shrank slightly more than the outside. I made up for that on one end by inserting a thin leather spacer. One of the biggest challenges was finding rawhide pieces big enough. Forget the rolled up dog chews. They are thin, and the middle is full of scraps. I found that out the hard way. I couldn't find big bags of flat chews large enough to work. I finally scored at Petco. They have a "treat bar" or whatever they call it, for dogs. It is open bins of various treats sold by weight. There, I picked out the best looking 3"x3"ish square rawhide pieces. Many were nice and thick. Still, after cutting, there was a lot of waste. If anyone knows of a better source for rawhide, please post. There isn't much info online about making these kinds of things. I went mostly by BearMan's post above. Thanks, BearMan, because without your info I wouldn't have had a clue how to approach this.
  15. As mentioned, heat to bright red (non-magnetic), then quench. Generally, with uknown steel, you should quench in oil first. Then check hardness (use a file). If it didn't harden, heat red hot again and quench in water. The reasoning behind this is oil hardening steel can crack if quenched in water, so try oil first. For cheap needles, maybe try water first. If it breaks, it breaks. After hardening, the steel will be very hard and brittle. You'll need to draw (soften) the steel. Clean the steel with whatever is handy so you can see its color, then heat to the desired color. Temperature charts can be found online, which should put you in the ballpark. A toaster oven can work depending on how far you need to go. I don't know how hard needles generally are. If careful, you could slowly heat with a flame to soften the middle while keeping the tip harder. Quenching at this stage doesn't really matter. There isn't any need to, though it helps if you want to immediately stop the heat traveling to parts you don't want to get so hot. In other words, maybe heat mostly from the eye. Let that come up to brown/purple, while keeping the tip straw colored. Or whatever temp range needles need. They are cheap enough. Experiment. If you aren't happy with the tempering, heat red hot and quench to reharden, and start over. You can probably get away with doing that several times. Of course, this assumes the needles will harden. If they don't after quenching in water, you're out of luck. Well, unless you want to get into case hardening. You don't.
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