Saddle making

Sanding Tools for the Leather Shop

When it comes to getting the best possible edges in your work, sanding tools are one of the most important areas to focus on.  Without a well sanded edge on your leather project, you won’t be able to get the smooth finish you are looking for.  Even the best possible cut piece of leather still needs sanding on the edge to prepare the leather to be burnished.

There are many different ways to accomplish the same thing in leather work.  Sanding is no different.  There are antique line finishers, who’s sole purpose is to sand and burnish any leather edge to a high gloss finish… particularly on shoes and boots.  But these machines are heavy and take up a lot of room in a workshop.  There are cabinet finishers that take up much less room and do just as good of a job.  But finding one of these on the used market can be difficult… most folks won’t part with them.  There are even other “powered” machines used in other industries that can accomplish your sanding needs. Continue reading

Leather Sewing Machine Best Practices

Sewing leather is by far the most common task that we have in our leather shops.  Whether you are hand sewing everything, or using a leather sewing machine, you will have to sew leather on just about every project.  In this post, I share the first of a three part video series on leather sewing machine best practices with the hopes of helping you become more efficient and safe while using an electric sewing machine.

When I started doing leather work, I didn’t have a leather sewing machine and spent many hours hand sewing my projects.  Though this is not the most efficient way to complete projects, I do believe that it is very important to become proficient at this skill.  So if you are still in the hand stitching stage of your leatherworking journey, don’t fret!  You are at a very important stage and learning this skill will serve you well for the rest of your leather career.  But when the time comes when you can upgrade to an electric sewing machine, I would highly recommend adding this piece of equipment to your shop. Continue reading

How to Slick Edges on Leather

I have already written an article here on how to slick edges on leather, but in this blog post I want to share a video that I did that goes a little more in depth on slicking edges on leather.

If you have done any amount of leather work at all, then you have experienced the chore of finishing your edges on your various projects.  If you find this task time consuming and boring, then you are not alone.  This is probably the one task in all my projects that I do not love (actually dislike) the most when it comes to making anything out of leather.  But, at the end of the day, if you are going to do leatherwork and want to have a professional look about your work then you must properly slick and finish your edges. Continue reading

How to Make a Doctoring Saddle Bag

If you have been dabbling in leatherwork for a short period of time, or have been cutting your teeth in the leather industry for decades, then you have had someone ask you to make a doctoring saddle bag before.

These bags are fun at times and other times they can be a very challenging project to complete.  This is mainly due to the particular requests from the dayhand cowboy that is ordering it.  Every cowboy is unique and particular of how his gear is arranged in the tack room, how his horses handle, and how his doctoring bag is designed.  No two cowboys are alike and that can pose a challenge when designing one of these bags.

In this Quick Tutorial Video on our Youtube channel I show you how I approached this particular request we had this week in the shop.  This is by no means the only way to make this type of doctoring bag, but it is how I took a sketch and turned it into a useful tool for my customer.

Check out this video and see if this is something you would like to try and make.  If you like the design that I created here, then you can purchase the pattern pack that goes with this video by clicking HERE. Continue reading

A Review of the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

resistanceThis is a review of the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.  Pressfield has written many books in both the fiction and nonfiction space with one of his most successful being “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

I am an avid reader of nonfiction books specifically directed at business and development.  I came across “The War of Art” last year and consumed it first in audio form while working in my shop.  After listening to the book multiple times and gaining great insight every time, I have added this book to my list of “Must Reads” for anyone wanting to succeed in their business and personal life.

If you are a creative in any field, this book will bring to the surface those things we all do that sabotage our focus and productivity.  Whether your gifts and talents are put to use as a hobby or they are the sole form of revenue for your household, using these talents in a way that the universe calls for you to do is not something you can ignore.  What Pressfield calls “Resistance” sets up shop in our lives with a sole purpose to keep you from that which your guts tell you has to be done to be complete and happy.

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Do You have Projects You Procrastinate On?

img_1011Have you ever found yourself working happily on the project that you are most excited about only to have a voice in your head reminding you of that one job you put off for way too long?  Those projects you procrastinate on consistently? That one job that you set on the bench in the corner of your shop and feel it staring at you throughout the day?  In your mind you know that you need to just put down what you are doing and get it done so you can get back to what you love.  But as the days, weeks, or maybe even months continue to cycle by, you make an honest attempt to convince yourself that you will do it “tomorrow.”

 This is procrastination, resistance, or simply lying to yourself.  We all do this from time to time, but for some of us this can become a chronic disease among the best of craftsman.  We work so hard to improve our skills and talents, that we tend to put off the types of work that don’t add value to our skill set.  In an attempt to be good stewards in our business and remain financially responsible, we take these jobs because of our lack of confidence in our true passion.  We tend to look at these jobs as a necessary evil because it must be a sin to turn down work.  So we end up taking the project on, knowing in our minds that we don’t want to do them and in turn putting them off to the point that the customer is upset.  And we ourselves are upset for having to do them.

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Saddle making and Cantle backs

In this video, I walk you through the process that I use to put my cantle back and plugs on when building saddles.

Everyone has their own way of doing this step within a build and this is just to show you how I do mine.

If you like this video please subscribe to our channel for the latest videos that we add. Thanks so much!

 

7 Essentials for the One Man Workshop

For many of us in the saddle making or leatherworking industry, we are a shop of one or maybe two people.  This business model has both its advantages and difficulties.  Finding time to design the products, build the products and market the products all while keeping a handle on the administrative aspects of our business make for a challenging day to day.

While most of us can not afford to hire a full time office manager or marketing manager, we can use the wonderful technology that is right at our fingertips and virtually free when compared to adding staff.

In this article, I will show you the 7 essentials for a one man workshop in my opinion.  There are definitely more apps, tools, and systems that can be put into place to help you accomplish your business goals, but this short list is what I would call the minimum to help you minimize the work involved in running a one man show.

1. Smart Phone

The first in our list is the smart phone.  Whether you carry an iphone or Android, the majority of the population to date is carrying some sort of phone with internet capabilities.  This little device, although sometimes very intrusive and time consuming, can be your best asset to help you run your small business.

At first glance, the infinite availability of apps for these phones is astonishing to say the least.  You can download apps to give you access to all your marketing and social media channels so that you can monitor and update on the go.  You can get apps to edit photos and even your website straight from your phone without having to sit down at a computer.   You can access all your email addresses and contacts from this device.

Outside of being completely available and connected to your customers all day everyday (which can be hard on productivity at time), the camera available on these devices has brought a quality to our workshop photos that before was limited to only those who dabbled in photography along with their craft.

The ability to capture quality photos of your works in progress, completed works, and videos of work being done has opened our shops up to both interested consumers as well as fellow craftsmen through social media and these devices.

In my opinion the smartphone is one of the most essential tools for any one man craftsman looking to grow his/her business.  Never before have we had so much marketing power and access to our customers wrapped up in a device small enough to fit in your pocket.

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How to Price Your Work

David Picciuto is a woodworker from Toledo, OH and has a YouTube channel called “Make Something” where he posts videos on creating beautiful art using wood as his primary material.  I have been a fan of his channel for a year or so now and I love the way he presents his videos and the things he creates.  Although I am not much of a woodworker myself, I find a great amount of useful information from his videos and vlogs.

A video that he did semi recently helped to answer a question that is always a huge topic of discussion for any tradesman wanting to make a living within their craft.  This question is “How to Price Your Work?” Continue reading