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gregintenn

Still trying to learn carving.

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I'm having a rough time trying to get accustomed to the swivel knife. Making smooth arcs seems to be the toughest part. I do feel like I'm getting a bit better with practice, so that's something, but as you can see, I have a long way to go.

 

Those of you who are good at it certainly have my respect and admiration!

Edited by gregintenn

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Greg,

I like your lacing, and it appears that you have holster design down.  An instructor in a class told us to work on making "s"s and "c"s.  Start by burying the tip of the blade, and make an "s" as you gradually lighten up on the pressure and feather out you cut.  It looks like you are applying too much pressure with your blade, thus your wrist and hand locks up.  Also, are you practicing on paper first to save on leather?  

Good luck, Ron

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30 minutes ago, Goldshot Ron said:

Greg,

I like your lacing, and it appears that you have holster design down.  An instructor in a class told us to work on making "s"s and "c"s.  Start by burying the tip of the blade, and make an "s" as you gradually lighten up on the pressure and feather out you cut.  It looks like you are applying too much pressure with your blade, thus your wrist and hand locks up.  Also, are you practicing on paper first to save on leather?  

Good luck, Ron

Many thanks for the advice, sir. I’ve been told the same about my writing when in grade school. Apparently I hold the pencil too tight. I’ll try to work on that.

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7 hours ago, Goldshot Ron said:

Also, are you practicing on paper first to save on leather?  

Do you mean, cutting paper with the swivel knife? That's something I never thought of (I still have "never use sewing scissors on paper, it will blunt them " in the back of my head, even though a knife smith has told me that's mostly bs). Do you use paper on a cutting map or cardbord and cut only partway through? 

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I'm starting to tool leather again after a 45 yr hiatus so I understand about the knife feeling awkward.  I would make sure your knife is sharp and polished, and check out the pinned post by @hidepounder about casing leather.

 

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I appreciate the advice, TomE. It’s starting to look like getting my knife sharp is half the battle.

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This is for Klara's sake: draw with a pencil on paper your designs to feel the flow.  You are able to erase and save leather at the same time.  A sharp blade in a swivel knife is always a given, so I do not give advise expecting that people are still in kindergarten.  If you are trying to tool leather, you should know how to case it; and, Bob Parks example above is worthless.  Everyone has an opinion, and my advise above is from a class that I had with Al Gould, a Master Saddle Maker and Leather Artist.  When practicing with the swivel knife (ON LEATHER, Klara) I have seen people use a damp sponge, a spray bottle (with H2O), and a number of other methods that worked for them to case or moisten the leather.  Greg, you need to obtain a good instructional book or video to show you some examples of using the swivel knife.  Also, if you can't draw a pattern on your own, copy from someone you respect. And, Practice, practice, practice.

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35 minutes ago, Goldshot Ron said:

This is for Klara's sake: draw with a pencil on paper your designs to feel the flow.  You are able to erase and save leather at the same time.  A sharp blade in a swivel knife is always a given, so I do not give advise expecting that people are still in kindergarten.  If you are trying to tool leather, you should know how to case it; and, Bob Parks example above is worthless.  Everyone has an opinion, and my advise above is from a class that I had with Al Gould, a Master Saddle Maker and Leather Artist.  When practicing with the swivel knife (ON LEATHER, Klara) I have seen people use a damp sponge, a spray bottle (with H2O), and a number of other methods that worked for them to case or moisten the leather.  Greg, you need to obtain a good instructional book or video to show you some examples of using the swivel knife.  Also, if you can't draw a pattern on your own, copy from someone you respect. And, Practice, practice, practice.

Many thanks for the advice.

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@Goldshot Ron  Thanks, I had misunderstood.

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8 hours ago, gregintenn said:

Bob Parks example above is worthless

@gregintennI think the leather was still too wet when you tooled it. I use Bob Parks way of casing and tend to get pretty results from his worthless method. I have been thru this discussion before was put in my place by somebody who uses the other method. I was TOLD here on this forum there is more than one way to skin a cat. (case leather) I'm not a master tooler like the guy who put me in my place who had been tooling saddles for 1000 yrs. So I tried the other way for myself and do not get the same results. If I could slap a little water on the leather and then let it dry a little while and go to tooling, I would use that method. I run my leather thru a sink or bathtub full of water until I quit hearing that noise. (if the bubbles quit coming out you might have gone too far, but it wouldn't make any difference anyway, just have to waite longer before starting) then lay it on my tooling bench and spray with a water bottle until it just starts to puddle, let it sit for 20 minutes then lay a piece of glass on it overnight. Piece of plastic works just as well because the water around the edge tends to seal off the edges.  I let my leather dry until I can lay my paper tracing pattern on the leather and then put a piece of glass on it for a couple of minutes to keep the paper from wrinkling. I don't do a lot of tooling like a lot of people on this forum, just the occasional piece, but in 10 yrs since I started using Bob Parks method I have never gone thru the paper. If that's happening the leather is still too wet. Mushy with no color means the leather was still too wet. 

So, yes there is more than one way to case leather. My advice is based on my own experiences and not what somebody TOLD me. Just remember what all our OPINIONS are like. MINE is no different. You have to experiment for yourself to see what works for you. 

IMG_3378.JPG

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Thank you for the advice as well. I believe you are correct that my leather was too wet.

You quoted me saying something I did not say.

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Yes, your correct, sorry about that.  I apologize. No edit button. Can't fix it now.  It was @Goldshot Ron that made that statement. It was just one of ID 10T computer errors. Sorry. 

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Sorry about that @gregintenn I have contacted @Northmount and asked him to delete that post. Hopefully he will since it does actually contain misinformation. 

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It isn’t any big deal. I just knew I’d never say anything like that.

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While it's still a disaster, I feel like drier leather and a sharper knife did indeed help. As long as I'm improving, I'll probably keep practicing. Maybe I've found something I just can't do.

I surely appreciate all the suggestions and advice.

 

 

SXiIN6m.jpg

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We’ll get you there don’t worry

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1 hour ago, gregintenn said:

 

 

While it's still a disaster, I feel like drier leather and a sharper knife did indeed help. As long as I'm improving, I'll probably keep practicing. Maybe I've found something I just can't do.

I surely appreciate all the suggestions and advice.

 

 

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I am not an expert by any means, but can offer something that helped me improve my swivel knife work.  When I first started, my hand would cramp up after just a few minutes of cutting. I finally figured out my knife was set too short and to compensate I had a very tight grip on the barrel with all my fingers. That made it hard to turn smoothly and it made my hand cramp up. I experimented with various lengths (adjustable knife) but it wasn't until I saw a video from Gordon Andrus that I was finally able to set a good length that felt comfortable and allowed me to turn and run the swivel knife with much less effort and no more cramping.  Here is a link to the video:

The other things already mentioned are definitely important. I just thought this may help  you as it did me.

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Your holster is pretty good for the first time!!

An old cook told me once "patience makes the best sauce" Take your time , let your leather case out properly no matter how long or how you soak it, spray it, dip it in one toe at time, whatever super secret expert advice, I use Bobs method too, sometimes  sometimes not.  Cut an extra scrap of the same leather to test on, jab it with your finger nail or stamp, something every once in a while until you see it creating the right impressions, they should be crisp and darker in color and most importantly they don't show signs of fading or popping back out.

One thing to look for If your leather is to wet or your knife to dull it will make the swivel knife stick and jerk along as your try and cut.so if you feel that jerkiness then you know one of two things are hampering you.

Al Stohlman will never lead you a stray you can get his books cheaply, some for free in the Tandy library!!! 

And my last suggestions on learning this craft, you will be using and looking at designs created by people who have been tooling for most of their natural life so don't expect your work to look as good for quite awhile. Just have fun with it and realize you will create your own personal techniques as you go. Also make some stuff without tooling too so you can learn the basics of sewing , dying,  finishing etc.   most of my tooling is still on scraps i usually do two or three practice pieces before committing to the final piece.

Good luck to you my friend we all started just like you at one time and are very willing to help. 

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Leather too wet is prolly the most common mistake made by new guys - maybe we jus in a hurry to git goin'? ;)

But I'll throw ONE MORE wrench in the mix here bout moisture content of the leather.  I do it different ways, largely depending on the thickness of the leather. 

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About 4 oz or less, I add water to the FLESH SIDE with a sponge, lay it on the marble (or granite, or whatever).  Since the rock is impervious, the moisture must go THROUGH the leather to evaporate... which is all you need to tool.  Works every time.

 

 

 

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Git up in the 7/8 oz range (or so, again, not a hard line rule), I add that same "back" water, but also wet the front (though not as heavily).  As you can guess, this causes the water on the underside to go out more slowly, thus "soaking' a bit more. 

 

And it continues up as the thickness increases.  Until you get to FORMING leather, and at that point I don't think there's such a thing as "too much" water.  And SOMETIMES, leather needs to be formed BEFORE its tooled, so a guy might have to FORM the leather, then let it dry out some to do the tooling.

 

SOME POINTS HERE:

I use water.  Not soap. Not dishwasher.  Not saddle soap. Not super glue.  WATER.

In the 'early days', I read Stohlman's book on belts, said to put a belt strip in the sink until it stops making bubbles.  SO I did.  I got tired and went to bed and that thing still was nowhere near "return to original color" ;)

"Cool to the touch" means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  My shop is like 65° mostly.  The guy with the 80° shop with think MY leather is "cool to the touch" at ALL TIMES and therefore "ready" to tool, even when it is not.  In fact, if his shop is 15° warmer than mine, HE should git bizy, cuz his leather gonna dry BEFORE mine does.

All leather is NOT created equal.  Git GOOD leather.  If your leather isn't right, then how you "case" it won't fix it.  This is THE #1 issue at all times.  If you dn't know good leather yet, ASK somebody who does. You can usually tell who that is,.... they're showing you well-made leather but not trying to sell you some ;)

 

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I'm still struggling with the swivel knife, but am beginning to figure it out...maybe.

Once again I'd like to express my appreciation to all who've offered advice and suggestions.

BBHREHt.jpg

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TufOLIs.jpg

I'm still not there, but I feel like there's a little bit of improvement. I sure am in awe of those of you who can successfully tool leather.

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You're improving, Greg, keep at it! Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to learning to carve. My first carved holster is, in my opinion, pretty mediocre, particularly when compared to the carving efforts seen here but I've found people who aren't leatherworkers are gob-smacked by it.:lol:

As for casing, I started off getting it damp under a tap and then sealing it overnight in a plastic bag until the colour was almost normal and that worked well, I've soaked it a bit and left it under glass to dry out a bit and that worked, I've dampened it using a sponge, wait a few minutes and repeat a couple of times and that worked ok but the one thing I haven't done is use soap, only water. I'm going to be applying dyes, oil, wax etc and I'm just not happy about having soap residue in the leather. I've no doubt the soap will reduce friction on the knife when cutting, but it does concern me.

I've studied many youtube vids on carving leather and it's definitely not as easy as they show it! I am also struggling at getting smooth curves and I've found an angled edge blade (i.e. not straight) makes it easier otherwise I keep tilting the knife too much. Getting smooth scrolls isn't easy.

Just keep at it, mate.

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Thank you, sir.

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8 hours ago, gregintenn said:

TufOLIs.jpg

I'm still not there, but I feel like there's a little bit of improvement. I sure am in awe of those of you who can successfully tool leather.

Are you free styling it or are you tracing a pattern?

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I’ve been drawing patterns on paper and tracing them on scrap leather.

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