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Hello All,

I have finally finished saddle number 2 - This has been a long project as we moved house twice in the space of time this was built in (Joy of being a house fixer upper type).

I would appreciate comments on this saddle - Specifically I am looking for things that I have done in ignorance that are not up to scratch.  Helpful criticism is looked for and will be valued!

This saddle was built on a Sonny Felkins tree (Quality MFG.), all Hermann Oak leather, Jeremiah Watt hardware, Amish stirrups, and all stainless steel buckles, nails and screws.

The seat is an all leather ground seat.  Rigging is placed about 7/8 and is flat plate type.  Skirts are butterfly with 1" bark tanned shearling.  Sewed this up on a Cobra Class 4 sewing machine.  Cantle and horn are stitched by hand with an awl and two needles at 6 spi.  Not shown is a 40" x 6" rear cinch I built for it too.  Glue used was Barge.

Hermann Oak leather seemed to have a few 'vein' type markings.  Tried to eliminate them but there are a couple on left seat jockey.

I still need to get better at burnishing edges.  Don't much care for that task.

large.SS-01.jpglarge.SS-03.jpglarge.SS-02.jpglarge.SS-04.jpglarge.SS-05.jpglarge.SS-06.jpglarge.SS-08.jpglarge.SS-07.jpg

Thanks for viewing these - I look forward to suggestions for improvement.

Ron L

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Ron,

Great job on the saddle. I wish I were good enough to offer a critique. 

Is the stitching on the latigo holder decorative or is it two layers of leather? Either way it looks nice.

Randy

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Hey Ron, just a shout out to say, job well done.  I really like this one, and also the pics chronologically showing the stages you went through to get there.  As for the burnished edges, not a fun task, however; when done right, it is a detail you will take pride in.  A little tip,  when you pick up a piece to do something to it, like tool, color, fit, rivet, put it on/off and so on, stop for a minute and give it a lic or two.  You will find that by the time you are assembling the saddle for the last time, all the edges seem to have miraculously become shiny!  Good luck, and again, nice job.

Bob 

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Wow! 

For your second saddle that is outstanding. I'm guessing you have leather working experience?

Curious how you cut your stirrup leathers slots? Really good looking saddle.   Regards Billy 

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Ron,

You did a fine job on this saddle.  Your stitching looks good, especially around the cantle for the Cheyenne roll.  Your front jockeys look balanced and in line with the rear jockeys.  It's hard to offer any suggestions because you did such a good job, and every one has different ideas when building a saddle.  However, there are two areas that I think need some consideration: your horn and horn wrap, and your fenders.  The fenders appear to be a little small for the saddle, and if the stirrups were lowered there might be a pinching problem for the rider (but that may be the angle of the photo).  The horn cap edge needs to be cleaned up with a larger edger so that the three pieces making up the horn cover blend together better.  This may be a burnishing problem that you mentioned.  The horn wrap detracts from the saddle.  It doesn't look as meticulous as the rest of your work.  On a folded fork cover at the gullet, like you have, it is hard to form the wrap tightly around the horn without bending the fold at the gullet.  You'll see that many makers attach the end on the wrap to the rope strap screw on the off-side, and finish the end like you did.  However, I'd tuck the loose end under the seat so that it doesn't just hang like your wrap does.  Kudos for the inlaid padded seat, it looks good.  Keep up the excellent work.

Ron 

 

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All - I appreciate the kind words!

Randy - I do think you are qualified to comment!  Yes the latigo hangers are lined - With a 5oz latigo.  They were kinda light so I wanted to beef them up.

BondoBob - Good idea!  I sure like all the information available on this site!  That tip you provided will definitely be put to use on the next saddle.  It's an area I really need help in.

Billy H - For previous experience I have built one saddle and about 8 pairs of chinks.  I'm real slow though!  This saddle almost took two years.  (Big problem is being busy with other stuff).

Goldshot - On the horn edging - I agree - I am going to see what I can do to get this looking better!  Didn't really notice it until you pointed it out - I'll try and get it smoothed out!

The horn wrap - This saddle will be used for roping - We dally and as rope is run the horn wrap tightens up - I leave the tail loose so I can jerk the excess tight.  I'd like to have it tucked away somewhere but after roping a few critters there would be slack put into the tail if it was fixed.  I like to wrap over the front lip for the simple reason that it helps keep the swell cover from getting so worn out by rope running over it.  It doesn't eliminate it but it does help.

In terms of the fenders - I totally agree on this too.  I wish they were about 2" longer - However this saddle is for my wife and she isn't real tall - The saddle as you see it is set-up for her leg length.  If we ever go to sell this thing we may have to provide longer fenders.  However I didn't want to make it with longer fenders and have a bunch of bulk under the seat jockey for my wife though...

Once again - Thanks for all the tips & input - It is valued!

R

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Wish I had your talent?

I sure understand that life's challenges slow the process.

Your wife is lucky!  Regards Billy

 

 

 

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Absolutely beautiful!

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The first thing that catches my eye is the back rigging dee. From the pictures it looks like your plate assembly falls below the line of the skirt from the seat jockey all the way to the dee. I understand you have butterfly skirts but I think your saddle would look more balanced if you raised that line on your plate and the skirt was visible behind the seat jockey and your rear housing covered the top of the back dee. Overall a very nice saddle.

 

CW

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rdl123,  I will try to weigh in here a bit.  First of all, for your second saddle, you should be very pleased.  Many people build for a lifetime and never make a saddle this nice.  This makes it harder to critique!  I am sure you learned lots of things making the last two that you would change in the future.  I will try to point out a couple of things as well.  As has been pointed out, the horn edge needs improvement.  Generally speaking, an slight dome to the horn cap is more desirable.  You lost your dome by not folding the bottom apron low enough and then not pounding your filler low enough.  You want the filler to be centered between the top and bottom of the finished horn.  In order to accomplish this, you have to get the filler below center during the covering process, as the top cap is the thickest piece.  I advise the use of a palm sized block plane for smoothing the outside shape of the cap and then using larger edgers to round the corners.  I will talk about burnishing edges here... most of us despise that job, but it must be mastered.  Best method requires getting the edge wet enough to take a burnish.  I like to use bar glycerine to help slick the edge, and then use a canvas rag and follow with a hardwood stick to get a hard packed edge.  This is effective for all of your edges. 

Rigging and fenders have both  been mentioned.  These fall under the category of DESIGN.  Your first picture shows a good profile showing the basic design elements of the saddle.  Given the fixed requirements of the fenders, and seat length, the rest of the saddle should have been designed around these features.  When I look at the first pic, I notice the skirts ( seat, riggings and jockeys) being too deep for the length and fender size.  At this stage of your saddlemaking, I advise against using established patterns.  Rather, create new patterns for each saddle as its own unique design.  If the skirts were made shallower to balance with the fenders and seat, then the overall look would be more balanced.  As it is, the saddle looks out of balance.  As has already been stated, the riggings are too low... not so much in front, but a lot in back.  CWR is correct saying that the top of the rear dee should be hidden under the jockey.  The seat jockey should also not drop below the skirt, but land somewhere between the skirt and jockey lines,  I would like to see the skirt extend a bit farther behind the cantle.  I like 5½"-6½", depending on skirt shape. 

Your inlaid seat is fairly well executed, however, back to design, it is too narrow.  From a functional standpoint, it should be as wide as practically possible to avoid feeling the edges with ones pin bones.  Some tooling is in order in the dish of the seat.  You have done some stamping on all of the pieces, except the dish of the seat, and the cantle binding.  These areas really stand out as out of place. 

Your hand stitching looks really good.  I  can't see the horn very well, nor under the cantle, but what I can see looks very good, 

The Cheyenne roll could be shaped down more around the back edge.  It should lay flat or have a downward slope.  Yours slopes upward.  The ends of the cantle are covered well at the junction of the seat.  However, here they loose their shape.  It works better to make your seat ear cut higher up the cantle, and not have to run your Cheyenne roll so far down to get under the seat. 

Horn wrap... you stated earlier that you will be pulling the tail to gather slack as the horn is used and the rope tightens the wrap.  Since this is happening to you, it indicates that you are not pulling all of the stretch out of your wrap when installing it on the saddle.  Soak the wrap in HOT  water until saturated.  then strip all excess water out and allow to case for 10-15 minutes.  Then wrap around the horn and use a chinaman to work out ALL of the stretch.  Then allow to dry completely.  If you do this properly, there will be no additional stretch in the horn wrap.  I am not criticizing how you wrap the horn.  That is a common style of wrap. Just pointing out that whatever style of wrap you use, you need to get all the stretch pulled from the leather when first installing.  Most makers struggle with this.

I hope my observations are helpful, and not discouraging.  You have done a great job making this saddle and I only offer my comments to help you improve faster with less pain and suffering.

Respectfully,

Keith

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Hello Keith,

Thanks for taking the time to put this all down for me!  I really appreciate the insights.  I knew there was something not 100% on the overall balance and look on this saddle but I couldn't put my finger on it...It was just a sense that something was off visually.

On the horn cap - My problem there is compounded by the fact that I cut the horn cap so close to my stitch line on the bottom.  I wanted a small as possible horn cap on this rig and I made a poor decision to trim the horn about 3/16" away from the stitch line under the cap.  I angled my stitches so I got proper clearance up top but I didn't leave myself enough room to get it properly edged on the underside.  Lesson learned there.

Burnishing - I will have to give the hardwood stick a try - Also I had forgotten about using bar type glycerin soap - I have some and will incorporate it into my burnishing.

In terms of design - I'm glad for the insight on this.  It never crossed my mind to consider the fender length/skirt depth ratio previously - This does make sense though.  I do create all of my own patterns so I will keep this in mind on saddle #3.  

In terms of the rear rigging dee - I agree with you and CWR - I wish it was about 3/4" higher - Do you think that would be enough?  My theory with rear rigging dees is that I do not want my rear billet to sit on top of the skirts as a good horseman once told me he'd seen skirts deform from pressure there and then sore up horses.  What are your thoughts on that?  What do you like to see there?

On skirt length behind cantle - What is a good overall skirt length?  Part of the reason I tried to keep this one shorter is that we do ride some younger horses.  However I am wondering if maybe I am misguided in this?  I will measure my length there as now that you have pointed it out it does look short!

Padded seat - I will make sure to modify my pattern for the next rig and get it wider.

Tooling on the cantle dish - I had actually planned to tool this one - However at the last minute I chickened out as I was worried I'd wreck my seat piece!  I'm still not very confident with tooling.  I'd never thought to tool the cheyenne roll - However looking at your website I see how nice it does look.  Guess I need to practice my tooling and build confidence.

On the Cheyenne roll - Yes - I tried to get it flatter by working at it and skiving material off the back edge - But I guess I should have got it pulled in tighter which would have helped to fold it down.  Out of curiosity - In your view is it acceptable practice to cut a wedge piece out of the cantle back where it creates the foundation of the cheyenne roll to help get it sloped down more?

I'm not 100% sure I understand what you mean on the earcuts - I will post a picture to see if I have interpreted what you are suggesting correctly.

In terms of the horn wrap - I will use this technique and re wrap the horn on this saddle and the one on my own rig - I do find it annoying to have to pull out slack - Your comments make sense and I will use this method from now on. I have a chinaman - Just haven't been casing my horn wrap at all.

And in closing - I find your comments very helpful and not discouraging in any way.  My goal is to make good saddles - Not mediocre ones!  Your comments will help me build a better balanced, more functional saddle with improved aesthetics on round #3!  

I'd like to thank you and all others who have taken the time to comment and suggest improvements - This forum has been invaluable to me - I am up in Saskatchewan Canada and there are not a lot of saddle makers nearby to get help from so this forum has made a big difference for me.

Ron L

 

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Hello Keith,

Here is a pic showing what I understand of your suggestion to raise the seat ear cut higher up the cantle...

large.Ear-Cut.jpg

Is this correct?  

Thanks - Ron L

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I'm sorry that I have not replied to this post.  I have not been getting notifications, so did not see this post. 

Yes, your drawing is showing the cut higher up the cantle.  Do not change the shape, just move the entire shape up the cantle.  You should be at least 3/4" from the corner where the cantle meets the bar. 

 

Keith

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