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About TomE

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  • Location
    west of Saint Louis
  • Interests
    horses, fixing the stuff they break

LW Info

  • Leatherwork Specialty
    making and repairing tack
  • Interested in learning about
    construction methods, using and sharpening tools

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  1. Over-oiled tack develops a sticky/gummy feel on the surface, and the temper is mushy - it loses shape. The only thing it solves is providing an excuse to buy new tack. The "nice floppiness" that @simo289 is looking for would likely be achieved by using high quality veg tan that is appropriately oiled and conditioned then allowed to break in.
  2. “Hot oiling” is apparently a thing with some folks who restore western saddles. Neatsfoot oil will turn good tack to sticky mush if you apply too much, like dunking in oil for an extended period. The effect is permanent from what I’ve seen.
  3. Trying out the narrow foot set from @Patrick1 at Hennigan Engineering and Precision using a Cobra Class 4. At just over 1/4" wide, the narrow foot set is about 1 mm (.05") wider than the in-line needle foot from Toledo Industrial Sewing Machine. Here I am letting the toe of the rear foot ride on the raised element to bring the stitch line closer to the raised element. Compared to the in-line feet, narrow foot set provides more even coverage of the feed dog and the needle is fully visible when sewing. Also because the toes of the rear foot overlap the needle foot there is no problem making sharp turns. With the in-line feet it is necessary to back out of square corners to give the rear foot a place to land. Nonetheless, the in-line feet are another good choice for this particular application - sewing straight on a narrow margin. Here I am also using the ultra-narrow feed dog with flat throat plate from Hennigan Precision, which feeds nicely working close to an edge. #21 x 794S needle and 138 bonded nylon thread from Leather Machine Co. Why does narrow matter? When I add a raised element to the end of a 5 ft long rein, I am trimming the width after sewing and generating a lot of wasted bridle leather. Sewing a narrow margin means less waste. This 3/4" strap was split and a narrow leather filler strip was glued in place before sewing. The width will be trimmed to 5/8."
  4. Unlike the color black, the browns represent a wide spectrum of colors. I would think it difficult to control the shade of brown color by exposing leather to sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda is used to extract tannins out of tanned leather, but I haven't seen anything about using it to color leather. Recipes for brown dyes in old books on harness making typically include saffron, annotta, and/or tree barks to achieve different mixtures of yellow, red, and black-brown. Here's some examples. From The Harness Makers Illustrated Manual, second edition (1886). W.N. Fitz-Gerald. STAINS. The use of russet and brown leather for reins, etc., necessitates the employment of stains of various shades in the workshop, in order that the reins or other straps may be of a uniform color after being worked. In most cases rein leather is stained by the currier, but when worked, the freshly cut edges, etc., need to be stained to correspond with the grain. The stains used are generally made of Spanish saffron and anotta, or of saffron alone, made up in various ways, the most common and reliable being the following : Boil a given amount of saffron in water until the color is extracted ; cut a quantity of anotta in urine and mix the two together, the proportions of each determining the shade ; the more anotta used' the darker is the color. Another manner of preparing this stain is to boil 1/2 ounce of Spanish saffron and 1/4 ounce of anotta in water until the dye is extracted, to which must be added some alcohol to set the color. To make a stain of saffron alone, boil a quantity in water until the dye is extracted ; strain off, and, when cold, add alcohol in order to set the color. The shade may be changed by adding oxalic acid in varying quantities according to the color required. The proportions can not be given with any degree of accuracy, as the color is a matter of taste, and can be regulated by using greater or less proportions of each article. Another saffron stain is made by boiling saffron in a small quantity of water until the color is extracted, and reducing with urine. In using any of these stains, apply them with a cloth, and, when nearly dry, rub with a woolen rag slightly waxed. A yellow stain is produced by boiling fustic berries in alum water ; the shade may be darkened by the addition of a small quantity of powdered Brazilwood boiled with the berries. Another yellowish red stain is made of Brazil wood and yellow berries in proportion to suit, boiling them in water until the coloring matter is extracted. This can be applied to sides that have not been stained, when intended for flat reins, halters, etc., in the following manner : Lay the leather upon a table, and rub the flesh side with a warm stretching iron; turn it over and moisten the grain side with water, and rub with a copper stretching iron until the leather is nearly dry ; then apply the coloring matter to the grain, and rub with a copper slicker. When the leather is perfectly dry, rub the grain with a glass slicker. An edge stain is made by adding a small quantity of alum to the above mentioned ingredients. A brown stain is made by boiling equal parts of pine and alder barks in six times their bulk of water until all the coloring matter is extracted, and when cold adding a small quantity of alcohol. Saffron boiled for twelve or fifteen hours gives a good brown stain, to which alcohol must be added to make it set. Picric acid and water, in proportions of 1 to 10, heated to a blood heat, makes a good yellow stain. Wold boiled in water also makes a yellow stain. An orange yellow is produced by boiling fustic berries in alum water. This stain may be converted into a rich brown by washing the leather to which it has been applied, before the stain is fairly dry, with an alkali. A red stain is produced by boiling Brazilwood in lye. If mixed with wold, it produces a brown.
  5. @Tim Schroeder Yes, I've been using @RockyAussie's narrow plate for over a year and like how it feeds heavy and light materials. Recently bought @Patrick1's extreme narrow plate/dog, and the holster plate with feed dog, to go with #21 needles that Leather Machine Co recently got back in stock. Looking forward to trying out his narrow "in-line" foot set for raised leather pieces. I'm going to need a heavier splitter to make purses out of the leftovers from the 9-10 oz bridle leather sides I typically work with.
  6. @Tim Schroeder, sounds like you're up and running with the new machine. Have fun with it. I spent most of the past year hand sewing but with all the narrow plates, etc. now available I am learning to do finer sewing on my machine. It's great to have both options.
  7. For sewing leather, I've been happy with bonded nylon from Leather Machine Co and Toledo Industrial Sewing Machine. I bought a few spools of thread from a local supplier and the strands were no longer bonded together. I'm guessing it was too old.
  8. Nice! Sealing with beeswax is the obvious next step.
  9. Thank you, @CowboyBob. No problems at present, but I have the manual and understand how the adjustment can be made.
  10. @CowboyBob have you found it necessary to change the shuttle race on a 441 type machine to accommodate different sized needles? I don't have a means of measuring but the position of the needle scarf for #21 and #25 needles appears to be less than 1 millimeter different. My machine sews fine with both needles and appropriate thread, after adjusting the top and bottom tension. I am assuming that if the shuttle is positioned correctly it can accommodate a range of needles.
  11. This little light came with my Cobra sewing machine and is still working 2 years later, although not in continuous use. https://leathermachineco.com/product/lda-1-led-magnetic-light/ I also use a Lightbar headlamp around the shop.
  12. Try a new needle and rethreading. Check that bobbin is feeding normally. Also check the hook for burrs and polish if needed. I recently needed to increase needle size from #24 to #25 with a new hide that was slightly thicker than my usual work. The thread (277/207) was fraying on top and using a bigger needle fixed it. Needle size and leather thickness/temper are part of the tension equation.
  13. Hmmm, well I guess I didn't know any better. I do switch between #25 needle (277/207 thread) and #21 needle (138 thread) without changing the inner race. I adjust the top and bottom tension and my Class 4 sews fine. I am sewing 20-30 oz of leather with the #25 needle, and 6-10 oz with the #21 mainly on narrow straps and raised leather features.
  14. Not sure about locked feet, but this video from @Uwe was a great help for setting the timing of the walking foot mechanism.
  15. Really nice. I like the popcorn idea. I saw some flax seed in the grocery store and decided it was time to make a crupper. This padded loop goes around a horse's tailhead to keep a saddle or driving harness from sliding forward on the withers. They are traditionally stuffed with flax seed, which also provides oil as a leather conditioner.
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