ltoddv

Herman oak or chahin

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I'm about to start my first saddle. I ordered a tree from timberline last week and was getting everything else together. When I looked at leathers I found a big price difference between Herman oak and chahin. Is one better than the other enough to justify paying more? Any benefits to one over the other?

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I'm an extreme novice when it comes to building saddles. I've built 3 total over the last 5 years or so. Two were made with Chahin and one with Herman Oak. I do make quite a few holsters, saddle bags, scabbards, etc. and I always use H.O. for them. Anyway, one of the saddles I built with Chahin leather is my personal one and it's held up really well. I don't have any issues with it now after about 4 years of use and I don't recall any issues when I built the saddle. I will say that in ordering from Weaver you occasionally get a bummer hide. This will happen with either HO or Chahin. 

I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in and give you more to think about. 

Good luck with your first!  Josh

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2 hours ago, Josh Ashman said:

I'm an extreme novice when it comes to building saddles. I've built 3 total over the last 5 years or so. Two were made with Chahin and one with Herman Oak. I do make quite a few holsters, saddle bags, scabbards, etc. and I always use H.O. for them. Anyway, one of the saddles I built with Chahin leather is my personal one and it's held up really well. I don't have any issues with it now after about 4 years of use and I don't recall any issues when I built the saddle. I will say that in ordering from Weaver you occasionally get a bummer hide. This will happen with either HO or Chahin. 

I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in and give you more to think about. 

Good luck with your first!  Josh

Thanks! I kinda have my mind made up on chahin just because it's easier on my wallet and it's my first one anyway. I was looking at American leather direct and maverick

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There are a couple things I don't like about Chahin leather. Granted, I've bought no more than perhaps a dozen sides and it's all been from Weaver.  Primarily, I got it for the available color choices.  First, I don't like what happens to the lighter colors when the edges are burnished. They turn kind of an unattractive grayish color.  I got a side of their lightest color harness leather for someone that insisted on tack lighter in color that HO Russet.  The leather was just plain ugly after it was worked up.  I did have some dark brown skirting that tooled up and antiqued absolutely fantastic, but overall I find the leather not as nice to work as our domestic leathers.  I've used it for a couple saddle seats, and they were a pain in the butt to get in.  If I have to work twice as hard and spend twice as long, what am I saving??  The sides have not been very clean, although that may just be Weaver.  Lots of butcher cuts and healed scratches, so the yield isn't that great. Again, where's the savings then?  As big of an undertaking as a first saddle can be, and fitting the seat is a major job for a beginner with plenty of opportunity for major screw-ups, I would not want to make it any more difficult than it has to be.  It is possible that it will last every bit as long as more expensive leather, but it could take years before you know.  I personally don't feel there is a big enough savings to warrant the risk that it might NOT last as long.  To illustrate my point, I bought some English Bridle from Weaver about 12-15 years ago. Not sure what company tanned it, but it was NOT HO. It was their alternative to HO at the time, and whether that was Chahin or not, I don't remember.  I made a headstall and a tiedown for my own personal use from that leather.  After about 8-10 years, there was a marked difference in how well it had (or rather how well it had NOT)  weathered in comparison with items I had made from domestic leathers. My own personal strap goods get taken good care of.  I never give them a chance to get real dried out. At least once a year, everything gets oiled.  After several years, that leather had a harsh feel and did not respond to oiling like the better leathers. Cracks started to show up around the buckle holes and it did not have the look of well worn, but high-end stuff.  At the time that I made the headstall and tiedown, I thought the leather worked up fine and it was a good value for the money.  When people pay a lot of money for equipment, they expect it to last.  If it doesn't, that's my reputation on the line.  I have bought maybe 6 sides of their burgundy latigo, and I guess I do like it performance-wise about as good as any, but again, it's not the most attractive leather. It has a dull finish and nothing improves it.  Take my advice for what it cost ya, but I'd spend the little extra and get HO or W & C skirting.

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10 hours ago, Big Sioux Saddlery said:

There are a couple things I don't like about Chahin leather. Granted, I've bought no more than perhaps a dozen sides and it's all been from Weaver.  Primarily, I got it for the available color choices.  First, I don't like what happens to the lighter colors when the edges are burnished. They turn kind of an unattractive grayish color.  I got a side of their lightest color harness leather for someone that insisted on tack lighter in color that HO Russet.  The leather was just plain ugly after it was worked up.  I did have some dark brown skirting that tooled up and antiqued absolutely fantastic, but overall I find the leather not as nice to work as our domestic leathers.  I've used it for a couple saddle seats, and they were a pain in the butt to get in.  If I have to work twice as hard and spend twice as long, what am I saving??  The sides have not been very clean, although that may just be Weaver.  Lots of butcher cuts and healed scratches, so the yield isn't that great. Again, where's the savings then?  As big of an undertaking as a first saddle can be, and fitting the seat is a major job for a beginner with plenty of opportunity for major screw-ups, I would not want to make it any more difficult than it has to be.  It is possible that it will last every bit as long as more expensive leather, but it could take years before you know.  I personally don't feel there is a big enough savings to warrant the risk that it might NOT last as long.  To illustrate my point, I bought some English Bridle from Weaver about 12-15 years ago. Not sure what company tanned it, but it was NOT HO. It was their alternative to HO at the time, and whether that was Chahin or not, I don't remember.  I made a headstall and a tiedown for my own personal use from that leather.  After about 8-10 years, there was a marked difference in how well it had (or rather how well it had NOT)  weathered in comparison with items I had made from domestic leathers. My own personal strap goods get taken good care of.  I never give them a chance to get real dried out. At least once a year, everything gets oiled.  After several years, that leather had a harsh feel and did not respond to oiling like the better leathers. Cracks started to show up around the buckle holes and it did not have the look of well worn, but high-end stuff.  At the time that I made the headstall and tiedown, I thought the leather worked up fine and it was a good value for the money.  When people pay a lot of money for equipment, they expect it to last.  If it doesn't, that's my reputation on the line.  I have bought maybe 6 sides of their burgundy latigo, and I guess I do like it performance-wise about as good as any, but again, it's not the most attractive leather. It has a dull finish and nothing improves it.  Take my advice for what it cost ya, but I'd spend the little extra and get HO or W & C skirting.

Thanks! That's something to think about, I had much rather have something easier to work with than not

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2 hours ago, ltoddv said:

Thanks! That's something to think about, I had much rather have something easier to work with than not

When making anything out of leather the labour time is the big cost. Leather a small amount of the total cost of an item. Depending on the item and work involved, the leather cost could be as small as 5% or less of the item cost with labour. Shoes, wallets and tooled items can easily be like this, a whole bunch of work on small pieces of leather. Some of the larger, simpler bags i make are closer to 20% material,  Not sure how a saddle fits in this spectrum however i would guess 15-25% material cost is close because there is a lot of square footage per item.

 Adding labour time fighting with substandard materials and redoing work due to hidden issues is very costly. It is false economy.  Double the price/quality of the leather on a labour intensive item like a complex tooled wallet you wholesale for $100 dollars, which has a 5% material cost and it only adds $5....Moving even 10% slower will be more costly.....that is only 6 mins per hour.

If you are selling items, upgrades, upgrades, upgrades.......anything you can change without adding significant labour time should be offered as an upgrade, for a charge. I set price based on customer material choice to account for this. I have a base price and upgrades. If I upgrade a bags leather,  I add some profit to the increased material cost for that bag and make that the leather upgrade charge I pass on to the customer.  Low labor upgrades are a great way to increase overall profit margin, if priced correctly. For instance, if you make wallets you could offer black, brown or white thread standard and charge $10 for the  blue, green, red, purple contrasting stitch upgrade. The thread cost is the same, but profit on the item is 10 dollars higher.

 

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