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NotActuallyALonghorn

Leatherworking

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Anybody else try working with leather? I've been at it for a bit and enjoy it. Started out with some tooling belts back in college and have recently gotten more serious into the hobby. Started out with a holster and cartridge belt in my more serious endeavors...

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I liked the way that one turned out, so I made another...

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The backside has an extra ring added to it so it can be worn like a traditional loop holster or like a modern CCW holster.

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That one turned out well and conceals a SAA pr clone reasonably well if you have an untucked button down (or pearl snaps) shirt, so I was pretty happy with it.

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The wife of course wanted to know why I was making something for myself this whole time instead of making her something, so I decided to try my hand at a handbag.

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I even included a nice tooled bottom section in it which was the only part she really liked. So whatever...it only took me like 60 hours to make it. In hind sight I should have probably asked her what she wanted before starting, but I learned a lot from the experience.

 

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So from there I got some ostrich leg because it is reasonably priced for exotics and made a wallet for myself.

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I didn't finish the edges properly since it was for personal use and I didn't have all the supplies, but I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. 

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Yeah,e verything is hand stitched. The tools to get into the hobby are not too expensive at the basic level. You can obviously spend a whole bunch of money on heavy duty sewing machines and the punches for tooling/carving leather can be pretty pricey, but it doesn't take a ton of stuff to make something like the wallet I posted above.

You need some punches to punch the holes like these,

Some thread like this,

Needles. These aren't blunted, but they work just fine and if you really want to you can knock the point off of them.

And leather cement.

You'll also want an exacto knife or a utility knife or something similar, rulers, and other odds and ends that you already have. If you want to finish the edges professionally some sort of edge dressing helps, but isn't necessary just to try it out. Most of this stuff can be bought at Hobby Lobby. You can order a couple ostrich legs from springfield leather for $20 or so right now (on sale) and have plenty of leather for a wallet. Expect to put about 12 hours of work into making a wallet if you are making it from scratch for the first time.

If you want to get into tooling leatjer, buy a belt blank and tooling kit from Hobby Lobby along with some dye. That should be all you need to try making a belt excepting the buckle. Again, expect to spend a bit of time doing the tooling, depending on how fat you are. 

It's a fun and rewarding hobby, and it will give you an appreciation for how cheap those fancy purses that your wife likes actually are when you consider the labor.

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60 hrs is why it's not cheap. 

I saw a vintage hand tooled purse at Leddy in the Stockyards for 1200. There's been a market for good leatherwork since we realized we could do such things back in the cave.

 

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60 hours is also partly due to me trying it for the first time without really knowing what I was doing. I could probably cut that in half with a more appropriate and better leather and a little better design. There were stretches on that handbag where I had to stitch through something like eight layers of leather without piercing the thread that was already going through the same set of holes. That will make a little more sense if you know how a saddle stitch works.

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I have a friend that makes his living doing leatherworking. Does a lot of costuming for film and tv, and ren faire people. Really fantastic, detailed stuff. Its a lot of hours of labor every day, and unless it's custom ordered stuff, people bitch about prices, not understanding the time involved. Not everyone can have a sweatshop out back full of Chinese kids.

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This looks interesting, but where would you get plans or templates that show you how to make what you want? It's easy to say I want to make a front pocket wallet but I don't have a creative bone in my body. I guess "just google it" is probably the answer.

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Quick and dirty sheath fir the camping hawk, no finished edges or dye or anything fancy. Just something to carry it around on my belt with. I didn't bother to properly case the leather, so the stamping I did is sub optimal as well.

 

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Got a 5X hat on clearance last December, but while the felt seems decent quality, the hat band was basically worthless. Made to look like leather, but no breathability at all, and the reeding kept it from adapting to my head, which is more of an extra long oval than a long oval. So I took the old band out  and made a new one out of vegetable tanned pigskin lining leather. It fits much more comfortably now and will mold to my head much better than it would have otherwise.

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The back seam isn't perfectly centered, and the wrinkle is probably a result of a combination of my cutting it from the belly area of the hide and the way I sewed it in.

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Damn OP, fantastic work.

I've been wondering lately about making wallets myself.   Between company and personal credit cards and debit cards, the typical bifold, or trifold wallets just dont cut it.  I wind up putting 2-3 cards per slot and it winds up feeling like I'm sitting on a dictionary.  I recently bought a wallet from WalletGear, an "extra capacity" as it is called, and while all the cards fit fine, it's so wide there are some of my pants pockets it won't fit into.

Any suggestions as to what it takes to sew those things up etc?

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Not sure about extra capacity. You'd probably be wanting some sort of veg tan liner for strength, but also allowing for some stretch. A lot of thinner leather used in interiors will either stretch out too much or or have some sort of cloth backing glued to the leather for strength to limit stretch. You can always order a wallet interior from Springfield Leather and try making your own. All you need is the appropriate thread, needles, glue, and some sort of backing leather. Wallet backs can be ordered from many places and there are links posted above for the other stuff to get you started if you decide to try one.

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As soon as I can figure out how to post my pictures I'll show some of my projects. Very much into leather work and interested in talking more about the craft. Nice work and thanks for starting the thread.

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Sorry for all of the pics and how large they are, I will try to remedy that in the future. I just wanted to get some of these on here for you, @NotActuallyALonghorn Any feedback is welcome and I have a lot of the pics in process and will try to make a collage and post them starting from blank veg tan leather to the end you see. Interested in some of your current projects as well. I'm working on another couple of koozies and some flip flops.

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Very nice tooling work, Droopy.

 

I gotta say I'm really impressed by the range of NAaL's work.  Got the kind of coarse, heavy holster and necessary bag, and then the fine purse and wallet.  I could see myself doing (and have done with less skill and craftsmanship), the coarse stuff but would never even attempt the fine things. 

You might ought to consider a bootmaking class.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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12 hours ago, Droopy said:

Sorry for all of the pics and how large they are, I will try to remedy that in the future. I just wanted to get some of these on here for you, @NotActuallyALonghorn Any feedback is welcome and I have a lot of the pics in process and will try to make a collage and post them starting from blank veg tan leather to the end you see. Interested in some of your current projects as well. I'm working on another couple of koozies and some flip flops.

Those are looking good. I haven't tried doing any multi colored stuff like that yet. You're tooling is probably better than mine is. Working on making some spur straps with bluebonnets on one strap and something else Texas themed on the other one right now, but I've been a little busier right now, so progress is slow. I also have another wallet and a cell phone case/holster made with ostrich leg and lizard respectively in the works for a couple family members.gonna try and improve on what I learned from making the last wallet to slim things down and make the edges on the exotic stuff a little more finished looking.

FYI, I use the basic method in this tutorial for the holsters, but obviously I've tweaked the designs to my preference. I've pretty much been using the prepunched holes method for everything except really thin delicate lining leathers like lamb skin where a punched hole will be too big and won't close up around the thread.

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11 hours ago, TwiceHorn said:

Very nice tooling work, Droopy.

 

I gotta say I'm really impressed by the range of NAaL's work.  Got the kind of coarse, heavy holster and necessary bag, and then the fine purse and wallet.  I could see myself doing (and have done with less skill and craftsmanship), the coarse stuff but would never even attempt the fine things. 

You might ought to consider a bootmaking class.

I'm going to Mexico in three weeks and am gonna look and see if I can't find somewhere down there to get some lasts for shoe making. Gonna try some loafers first, and if that works out I may try making some full wellingtons like might have been worn in 1836, or as close as I can get with materials available today. Gotta research and see if there is anywhere near where we will be that has a shoe making industry. If not I can find some lasts online, but they are either pretty pricey or have exorbitant shipping.

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I'll probably just give it a go on my own. There's no way I'd have time for a week or two class any time in the near future with a 2.5 yo and a pregnant wife. There's actually a lot of information on bootmaking (even historical techniques) out there on the intertrons if you are willing to dig. By the time I get to the point to where I am ready to try and tackle a pair of boots I should have enough experience with other stuff to be able to figure out what I am doing. Everything I've done so far has been self taught. 

That last link does have kits and you can get a last to go with them for $20, so I might see if there is a way I can order just the last.

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Great work.   When I was little, my dad used to cut his own reins from whole hides.  He always let me use the tool to round off the edges.  I LOVED that smell in the house when he would bring a new hide in.   He also made his own headstalls, spur straps and stirrups.  I loved wrapping the stirrups in rawhide and stitching them together.  

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Awesome thread, been considering getting into leatherwork, mostly to make watch straps. Haven't found the time to pull the trigger yet but really appreciate this thread.

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Not entirely leatherwork, but I made a horn powder measure with a braided leather lanyard yesterday for my Great Plains Rifle. I didn't measure the laces or anything, just cut them freehand, so they weren't perfectly consistent in size. I didn't bother to bevel the edges either, but it's not supposed to look professional, more like something a hunter or mountain man made themselves. The bottom of the measure was filled with beeswax until it had the right volume to throw a ninety grain charge. This way I can always scrape some out or put more in to adjust it should I decide I need it to hold a larger or smaller volume of powder.

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Just finished making this phone holster/case for my father in law.

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It's lizard and veg tan cowhide with a veg tan pig skin liner.

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I had to carve a phone shaped form out of wood to shape it. You can see where I boogered up the stitching line a bit in the bottom corner.

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A view of the inside. I should have put the snaps on the other way, but I didn't feel like changing it after the fact.

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The concho is a 1962 Peso, his birth year. Some guy or gal from Wimberley on etsy makes them. I was lucky he had the right year on hand.

This was probably my most technical project to date. Making something like this is really as much about planning as anything. I'm getting better at it, but I can still see a lot of room for improvement.

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Dude, again, nice work. The multi layered leathers is a nice touch. 

I’m working on a belt again and have done some other random stuff I’ll share when I get the opportunity. I like the revolver holster and may need to get that pattern from you if you’re open to sharing. I’m also in the process of getting a sewing machine because my hand is tired of the sewing process but we’ll see. Look forward to seeing more of your work!

Edited by Droopy

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https://leatherworker.net/forum/topic/19338-cowboy-holster-tutorial/

There's a PDF there with a pretty good tutorial that I used. It tells you how to make the pattern and build it and everything. The only thin I think I did differently was wet form the holsters afterwards. I made them on the tight side so that they would stretch out and be nice and form fitting.

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We in business now.

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Well, we would be if the wife wasn't halfway to squeezing out a baby. There are still a lot of materials I need to make something worth my while.

Edited by NotActuallyALonghorn

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So, when ordering lasts it is important to know the measurements you need to fit your foot. I wear a size 12D in most shoes, but a 12D last may not correspond exactly to those measurements. When you are trying to pick up lasts for as cheap as possible, those measurements aren't always available. So you have to make modifications. You probably have to make some anyways to fit your foot just right, but it is easier if it is closer from the get go. The lasts I have are from like 1964 and are way too narrow, so I have to add material to them for them to fit properly. You do this by glueing leather to them  and then sanding or cutting it to fit.

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This took a couple hours, and I still have more to do. A whole shop full of lasts yo find the one that best fits would be convenient, but I dont have that luxury. Slowly but surely i am making these fit properly. Once i have the lasts built up i can lacquer them and begin making some shoes and boots.

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So I finally finished up building my lasts to fit the measurements of my feet. After glueing leatjer yo the lasts I saturated it with super glue to make it a harder surface in order to be able to sand it down and so that the lasts could withstand the forces required to shape the leather around them. After a few evolutions of repeating the steps and checking and rechecking measurements I was satisfied enough to lacquer them and am ready to try making a pair of shoes. I'll start with a basic pair of loafers or something like that and if I am satisfied with the way they fit I will be ready to take on a pair of boots.

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You can see I changed the profile of the toe to be a little squared off. This will hopefully be closer to what the original cowboy boots were like back in the late nineteenth century.

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Can you smell the leather through the screen?

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That's an interior shot of my latest project, a diaper bag for my 2.5 month old son's junk. It's been in the worthe since summer time and probably took over 80 hours all in. 

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I stuck an extra D ring under the buckle so you can hook it through the snap and carry it like with one hand or loop it through a stroller's handles if you don't want to carry it over your shoulder.

Close up of the extra D ring and snap:

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One handed carry mode:

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The inlays are ostrich leg.

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I tried something new with the alternating colors on the stitching. As far as I know, there is no way to duplicate it with a sewing machine, so it's one of those subtle things that let's people knowledgable about these things know at a glance that it is hand stitched. I also think it looks pretty cool.

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I posted a picture of the purse I made my daughter for Texas Independence Day in the Dad thread, but I thought I would post a few pictures of the process here.

First thing of course is to make a pattern. The front and the back will be the same and there is only one other piece, so a pretty easy pattern.

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Next was the inlay. I forgot to take pictures at the beginning of it, but I basically drew out a design and then cut one piece at a time out of my pattern. I would then cut a piece of leather and stitch it to the last.

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Eventually you end up with something that looks like this.

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looks kinda rough, but when you stitch it into the front of the bag you get this.

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The back still looks rough, but that will be covered up by the liner. I did glue some extra pieces to the inlay to help support it because some of the lizard pieces were so thin I was worried they would tear otherwise.

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that inlay alone took just short of nine hours to complete. So of course I added a bunch of other stitching just for kicks.

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I finished everything just in time to give it to her Monday night.

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spacer.pngSo for my next project I decided to do another holster for my .44 mag revolver. This little guy is mainly for hiking through bear country and stuff like that.

So first thing of course is to make a pattern and transfer it to the leather.

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All cut out and holes punched. This will be my first fully lined holster.

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Gotta test fit everything. There is going to be a welt that tapers off to nothing at the trigger gaurd to help hold it open.

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The next step is to add some decorative tooling. Unfortunately I didn't get very far before I ran out of time today.

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I probably won't be carrying this in Oklahoma...

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