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I've quite a few holsters but the last two...new problem and I can't figure it out.  One difference is the old holsters were a single thickness of leather and the new holsters- I've glued in a liner of thinner leather.  In any event I hand stitch with waxed linen thread- same as always but after a couple of weeks a crack develops.  I've used toothpicks to get barge cement into the crack and so far it seems to work but I'm not happy with having to do it.  How to prevent this?  I've thought about applying barge cement, clamping the edges together and keeping the holes lined up by using steel brads- run through the holes.  Any suggestions appreciated.

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I think you just need to look at your glueing up procedure. Plenty of glue and hammering the two pieces together before a good tight clamping up. Hammering as in going along the edge area with light mallet and tapping it with purpose, but not like you are trying to put a 6 inch nail thru a board in one hit

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Contact cement both pieces together into one homogenous piece . . . and create your holster from there.  I generally cut both pieces . . . and I will do a very rough form fit . . . such as draping both pieces over the gun . . .  and squeezing the leather with my hands until they form a "U" that surrounds the gun.  Contact cement them together like that . . . then continue wiith making the holster.

My edges very . . .  very rarely ever try to split apart.  When it does . . . far more often than not . . . it is the leather separating . . . not the seam.

May God bless,

Dwight

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I've had issue when I try to use cement that's started to cure.  When it gets thick and gummy it's time to thin it out or toss it.  I second hammering the edges.  Since I've started paying attention to the glue and hammering the glued areas I'm not having any more issues.  

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Okay- now I realize there is a whole lot I don't know.  This is what I've done.  I groove the top edge and then run a wheel along the bottom of the groove to space out the holes and then use an awl to deepen the marks.  At that point I have a broken off awl tip and I have put that in an electric hand drill and finish off the holes, I use cheap plywood under the leather.  Now I bend the sides together and go through the drilled holes to also drill the back half.  Now I have all the holes lined up and spaced apart okay. Next I use heavy waxed linen thread and glover's needles and use a saddle stitch to stitch the sides together.

If I glue and clamp. it seems the holes would have to be made after that.  On the glue and hammering. What exactly is the hammering?  How and why do you do it? Thanks for the help- really appreciate it.

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4 minutes ago, Davm said:

Okay- now I realize there is a whole lot I don't know.  This is what I've done.  I groove the top edge and then run a wheel along the bottom of the groove to space out the holes and then use an awl to deepen the marks.  At that point I have a broken off awl tip and I have put that in an electric hand drill and finish off the holes, I use cheap plywood under the leather.

1. I think you need to look at your awl work. In 21 years of leatherworking I've never broken an awl, never even so much as bent a tip. Try using cork, a block or sheet, to poke your awl thru the leather into.

If you can afford them, buy two* pair of these special pliers for making sewing holes; 

Stitching pliers, 01s.JPG

* 4-tooth as per the picture and a 2-tooth for going around corners and tight curves

11 minutes ago, Davm said:

 Next I use heavy waxed linen thread and glover's needles and use a saddle stitch to stitch the sides together.

2. If you have the holes prepared its better to use blunt saddlers, aka harness,  needles for saddle stitching. Less chance of piercing the thread or cutting it with the needle

14 minutes ago, Davm said:

If I glue and clamp. it seems the holes would have to be made after that.  On the glue and hammering. What exactly is the hammering?  How and why do you do it? Thanks for the help- really appreciate it.

3. Contact glue really only stays on the surface or near the surface of the leather fibres, it also keeps the two leathers apart, very minutely. The hammering forces the glue deeper and forces the leather closer together. Just use a small nylon or rubber mallet to tap the leather along the glue line after joining the two pieces together, then clamp up till the glue sets

3a. We are assuming you are joining the leathers flesh to flesh. If you join a piece grain to flesh you need to roughen up the grain side otherwise the glue won't work very well

22 minutes ago, Davm said:

If I glue and clamp. it seems the holes would have to be made after that.  

4. Here is how I'd tackle it. Cut the main piece very slightly over size. Cut the liner very slightly bigger than the main piece. Glue the liner to main piece.  Plenty of glue along the edge joint of the two pieces. Tap/hammer around the edge  Clamp the edges good and tight. Leave to let the glue set. Then trim the main piece down to correct size. Run a groover or wing dividers along the edge to mark the stitching line. Then mark and make the sewing holes on the front half of the holster. Fold holster over. From here, three or more options, 1. Glue the edges of the front & back halves together and make sewing hols in back side. 2. use double sided adhesive tape and make the holes or 3, hold together with temporary clamps, make just a few holes and use wire, thread or lace in those holes to hold the two halves together making other holes and for sewing

 

 

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1 hour ago, Davm said:

If I glue and clamp. it seems the holes would have to be made after that.  On the glue and hammering. What exactly is the hammering?  How and why do you do it? Thanks for the help- really appreciate it.

Indeed, I always make the holes after it is glued and clamped in the stitching horse. That is what your awl is for. And glovers needles will snag and catch where a harness needle slides through. 

1; groove it

2; mark with the wheel

3; glue the edges together and hammer the GLUED JOINT to ensure full contact/adhesion of said joint

4: clamp in the horse and stab your holes as you sew. I usually stab as many as I can, depending on curve radius or straight.

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Are you roughing up the leather where you'll be applying glue? If not, that could be the problem. I saw that you mentioned Barge. Which type? I've used the yellow/red can for years and it worked well. 

1. Rough leather 

2. Apply glue 

3. Let glue sit for a few minutes, 5 minutes is usually good.

4. Warm the glue with a heat gun 

5. Bond the two layers together

6. Using a cobbler's hammer, tap the two pieces where they've been glued. Or anything that you can apply pressure with. I've used a rolling pin before. I use my stainless steel boning tool now to apply pressure to the two pieces being bonded.

7. Let the glue cure overnight

8. Stitch 

9. Sand edges even. Bevel edges. Burnish edges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by OldNSlowMarine
Added another step

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15 hours ago, Davm said:

Okay- now I realize there is a whole lot I don't know.  This is what I've done.  I groove the top edge and then run a wheel along the bottom of the groove to space out the holes and then use an awl to deepen the marks.  At that point I have a broken off awl tip and I have put that in an electric hand drill and finish off the holes, I use cheap plywood under the leather.  Now I bend the sides together and go through the drilled holes to also drill the back half.  Now I have all the holes lined up and spaced apart okay. Next I use heavy waxed linen thread and glover's needles and use a saddle stitch to stitch the sides together.

If I glue and clamp. it seems the holes would have to be made after that.  On the glue and hammering. What exactly is the hammering?  How and why do you do it? Thanks for the help- really appreciate it.

 

Are you folding one piece of leather and gluing?  Hard to tell, but that descriptions sounds like it.  If so, the folding is putting more strain on the glue.  

 

Personally I would

Cut the two piece of leather for the front.

Glue them

Trim, sand and edge them

groove, awl, and stitch them

 

To the broken awl part, just use a small drill bit.  You are going a long way to drill a hole with the worst possible tool anyway.  If you like, drill it smaller than you need then widen it with a hand awl.  The thread will lay differently in awled vs drilled holes.  But an awl in an electric drill is just a poor drill bit anyway.  

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Thanks everyone.   I am actually working with 4 layers, that is, normally you would fold over the two sides and sew them together so that's two layers, but if you laminate the holster, I glue flesh side to flesh side so as the outer surfaces inside and out are smooth, when you fold it over, the edge is smooth to smooth, so I'll roughen it up.  Next, to prevent a thick edge, I skive the heavier piece but now I am thinking the liner- just along the edge, maybe skive that after the liner installed to leave a flesh/rough edge to be sewn together and first glued.  As others have stated- I normally cut the liner a little oversized and trim.

I use scrap plywood 1/4" thick and cut out a curve that matches the edge and clamp that in place as I trim off and burnish the edge.  In any event I think on my next project I'll first glue the edge and then trim, make the groove, make the holes.

On the drill.  I had issues with making holes. On the top they were fine but on the back a hole here or there might be out of alignment. This hand drill I use has a built in level so I can drill exactly 90 degree holes- they line up okay front and back.  I'm using a small, round awl from Tandy. I think I probably need a better awl that will make holes through the leather and skip the drill.

On the needles- I have had problems with catching the thread so I stone the sharp tip down to a blunt end and that solves the problem.  One other question, how hard do most of you pull the threads as you stitch, maybe I should have them snug but not pull excessively.

On the grooves.  For the top of the holster I make a shallow groove so the stitching stands out as it is decorative but on the back of the skirt- that may rub against your leg. To protect the thread I cut the back groove a little deeper so the thread is flush or a little below the skirt surface.

 

I know these are small details but if you look at a lot of books- lots of general info but not so much on details. Again, thanks to all.

I also have a makeshift sewing horse I use.

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54 minutes ago, Davm said:

when you fold it over, the edge is smooth to smooth, so I'll roughen it up. 

 

Why are you folding it at all?  That's the stress that's delaminating your holster I bet.  Edge, sand, burnish, dye, burnish again, then wax to fill in any small voids.  You can make the raw edge look nice.  No need to fold the leather and use the grain as the edge.  

Or if you are dead set on doing that then skive it very thin.  Do not glue the 2 pieces.  Cut that side longer and fold the single skived piece of leather over.  Still not the best plan IMO, but better than trying to fold over 2 glued pieces of leather.  

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2 hours ago, chiefjason said:

 

Why are you folding it at all?  That's the stress that's delaminating your holster I bet.  Edge, sand, burnish, dye, burnish again, then wax to fill in any small voids.  You can make the raw edge look nice.  No need to fold the leather and use the grain as the edge.  

Or if you are dead set on doing that then skive it very thin.  Do not glue the 2 pieces.  Cut that side longer and fold the single skived piece of leather over.  Still not the best plan IMO, but better than trying to fold over 2 glued pieces of leather.  

I think you misinterpreted what he said. It is a lined holster. It has to be "folded", and since it is lined it is grain to grain.

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13 hours ago, tsunkasapa said:

I think you misinterpreted what he said. It is a lined holster. It has to be "folded", and since it is lined it is grain to grain.

 

I've never folded an edge on a lined holster.  Just treated the edge like the rest of the edges on the holster.  And a lined holster is glued flesh to flesh so the grain side is showing on both sides of the laminated piece.  If he's trying to glue grain to grain he is folding the edge over on itself to do that.  It sounds like he's trying to roll the edge over for some reason.  Maybe something is getting lost in the conversation.  But if he's rolling over the edge and trying to glue it back down, there will likely be issues unless there is a lot of prep work done in that area.  And even then I think it's a bad idea, or at least overcomplicating the holster.  

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You are still misinterpreting his 'folding';  His folding is bringing the front side of the holster over to the back side - the normal way you do to make a holster

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Can you post pictures so everyone that is trying to help will have a better understanding of your process? 

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Folded like a TACO! At which time a lined holster is glued grain to grain.

Edited by tsunkasapa

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Yeah, sorry for confusion. When I said folded, I meant bending over the pattern to form the pouch.

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I think I'm following what is being asked and the process but I have no idea why the edges being glued with Barge are coming apart. 

It sounds like you're making "western" type holsters where you have 1 piece of leather folded over on itself with a main seam. You are also using a liner so at your main seam you have 4 layers of leather. I'm going to assume that the total thickness of your leather(outer and liner) is 12 oz. or less before you fold it over to make the pouch of the holster. I do this a lot and use Barge to hold it all together without issue.

My process sounds a lot like yours, any grain to grain side gluing gets the glued area roughened up. I apply the glue to both sides and let it sit for a few minutes. then I press the glued edges together. Here I get a lot simpler than what you are describing. Once the glued surfaces are pressed together by hand I tap them down on my tooling block with a smooth face hammer. I "tap" hard enough to make my wife mad if she's in the house but not so hard as to leave a noticeable impression on the finished surface. At this point pulling the seam apart tends to separate the leather rather than the glued seam. From there I sand, stitch gouge and sew. When I hand sew I use an awl to make the holes but instead of stabbing them horizontally when I have the item clamped in my stitching horse I stab them straight down with the item on one of those hard rubber pads over the top of a cutting board. Going straight down helps me to keep the back looking tidy and uniform. When hand sewing I have to wear light leather gloves with the just the tips of the fingers cut off. Otherwise I cut my pinky fingers to ribbons as I pull the thread tight until my hand slips on it, which makes the cuts. I saddle stich with 2 needles, right needle goes through to the left, then left to the right, then with the needles between thumbs and index fingers my hands go around the thread and I pull the stitch tight until the thread slips where it runs through the bottom of my hands, AKA the pinky finger cutting operation. If machine stitching I'll just go to the machine after gouging. No clamps, boards or 24 dry times unless it just happens that I leave something that long between gluing and sewing. And, I've never had a problem with a glued and sewn seam coming apart after the fact. Maybe try more glue?

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8 hours ago, Josh Ashman said:

I think I'm following what is being asked and the process but I have no idea why the edges being glued with Barge are coming apart. 

It sounds like you're making "western" type holsters where you have 1 piece of leather folded over on itself with a main seam. You are also using a liner so at your main seam you have 4 layers of leather. I'm going to assume that the total thickness of your leather(outer and liner) is 12 oz. or less before you fold it over to make the pouch of the holster. I do this a lot and use Barge to hold it all together without issue.

My process sounds a lot like yours, any grain to grain side gluing gets the glued area roughened up. I apply the glue to both sides and let it sit for a few minutes. then I press the glued edges together. Here I get a lot simpler than what you are describing. Once the glued surfaces are pressed together by hand I tap them down on my tooling block with a smooth face hammer. I "tap" hard enough to make my wife mad if she's in the house but not so hard as to leave a noticeable impression on the finished surface. At this point pulling the seam apart tends to separate the leather rather than the glued seam. From there I sand, stitch gouge and sew. When I hand sew I use an awl to make the holes but instead of stabbing them horizontally when I have the item clamped in my stitching horse I stab them straight down with the item on one of those hard rubber pads over the top of a cutting board. Going straight down helps me to keep the back looking tidy and uniform. When hand sewing I have to wear light leather gloves with the just the tips of the fingers cut off. Otherwise I cut my pinky fingers to ribbons as I pull the thread tight until my hand slips on it, which makes the cuts. I saddle stich with 2 needles, right needle goes through to the left, then left to the right, then with the needles between thumbs and index fingers my hands go around the thread and I pull the stitch tight until the thread slips where it runs through the bottom of my hands, AKA the pinky finger cutting operation. If machine stitching I'll just go to the machine after gouging. No clamps, boards or 24 dry times unless it just happens that I leave something that long between gluing and sewing. And, I've never had a problem with a glued and sewn seam coming apart after the fact. Maybe try more glue?

Brother, that's a lot of good feedback. I'm done until a picture is posted though lol

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14 hours ago, OldNSlowMarine said:

Brother, that's a lot of good feedback. I'm done until a picture is posted though lol

RAH! :)

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Okay, more detail. Years ago I used just a single sheet of leather, say 8 oz.  And Mexican Double loop.  They were okay but a little flimsy.  Not like Great grandfather's "real" holster. So....I started taking two sheets of leather. The additional sheet was much thinner, 4 oz. so as you said when glued together you end up with a 12 oz. And..smooth on both sides- which is nice.  THOSE TWO Sheets never come apart and I use barge cement.  OKAY, so now I have my pattern all cut out.  Everything is flat, both sides of the pouch and the skirt above.  I now take one side of the pouch and fold it over and sew the edge.  THAT edge I have just sewn, no glue.  When it is first stitched it looks fine but a week or two later the edge has a crack in it.  It has now happened twice.  What I have done is use toothpicks to force the edge apart and more toothpicks to put barge cement in the crack and then clamp along the edge- using those office clamps for 20plus sheets of paper.  That has worked, the edge stays closed but I don't like making things that way.  I have been making the holes BEFORE stitching everything together on THE EDGE in question.  I've drilled the top then clamped it over the bottom and drilled the back half- hope that makes sense. With all the holes drilled I then saddle stitch.

My problem is AFTER the holes are drilled, if you glue, the glue sets up so fast that all the holes (the top side and the bottom side- have to line up or you are in big trouble.  As I see it there are two options.  One is to make all the holes and then apply glue along the edge and use steel nails/brads to temporarily hold it together and then pull one nail out at a time as the edge is stitched., the thread a substitute for the nails.  The other option is to not make any of the holes. Just glue the two edges and then make the holes.

I hope that clears up what I am trying to describe.  A third option, make all the holes on the top side- the side you see and glue and then use those holes as a guide and make holes through the back as you stitch the edge.

Edited by Davm

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Totally understand now! :)

I basically do your second option. Glue it then make the holes and stitch it. Granted, you're now going through what amounts to 24 oz. of leather or about 3/8" or more if you use a welt. The process I described in my first post is how I go about it and it works well for me. 

Good luck! 

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And while we are at it, on the broken awl tip.  This was a "stitching" awl- the type where you make loops in and out.  I was trying to make holes through about 1/2" or more of leather when I snapped the needle.  I think what I'll do is roll out the wheel for the top half of the pouch edge and make those holes. Then glue and clamp, then put in my makeshift stitching vise and make holes through the back half and then stitch it all up.  I usually make the portion from the stitches to the edge a little wider and trim it all down after the stitching is completed.

ANOTHER question.  I use glover needles.  Dull the tips as mentioned.  I run the first needle through a hole and then sort of pull on the thread to force it to one side of the hole and run the second needle through the hole from the opposite side (saddle stitch) but before I pull the second needle all the way through I "play" with the first thread, moving it in and out to make sure I did not accidentally piece the thread.  On a holster I'll generally not have a problem. Even on a belt, the perimeter, I make snag a couple of times but I'll back out the needle and try again.  Wondering how others do it.

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Use harness needles. They come blunt, and they are longer than glovers, easier to manipulate. I have sewn a couple hundred YARDS through the last 40 years, and I doubt I have pierced the thread 4-5 times. The right tool for the job always makes the job easier. And a good sharp diamond awl beats those "stitching awls" every single time.

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Not to be a dummy but- could you recommend a particular awl and will it make a hole through the holster pouch edge with the holster on a stitching clamp set up?  What I am thinking right now is to use the wheel on top of the edge to mark the spots and then an awl to make holes through the top half. Then apply glue and clamp both halves of the edge together and let dry.  Some glue will seep into the holes on the top half but I guess I can live with that. Then put the holster in a vise and use a good awl to go through the back half, using the existing holes on the top half for a guide. If I am a little off- that is, on the back instead of a straight line from hole to hole- I didn't pierce the hole at a perfect 90 degrees so on the back- a little off- it won't be seen so no one knows but myself.

On the skiving, I think I'll glue on an oversized liner and trim, then skive the edge- which will cut off the smooth liner surface along the edge and leave a rough surface to glue to a rough surface.

As I said before, these small details make a big difference and don't get discussed that much. Thanks for all the help.

 

AND.....we have another thread on border stamps but just out of curiosity how do most of you do it?  I am using a caliper and making a very light mark with an awl, then wet/card the leather, and when I stamp -the stamp impression obliterates the awl mark.  Even doing that a close inspection might show a tiny amount of different from stamp mark to stamp mark. 

Edited by Davm

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