leather

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.

When it comes to investing into a leather sewing machine, or any leather machine, I recommend doing your research and taking your time to get the best machine available and that your budget will allow.  I researched for the last year or so because I was wanting to upgrade my big harness stitcher (Ferdco Pro 2000) after 15 years of service in my shop.  The machine still stitches very well, but I didn’t want to just wait until it broke before having a backup.  As for me, I am a full time craftsman and I have to be prepared and can not chance not having a machine to sew on if my machine quit on me.

leather sewing machineSo after my research and talking to many people about the machines that they recommend (since my machine is no longer available), the machine that kept coming up in conversation was the Cobra Class 4 leather sewing machine from Leather Machine Co.  I spent some time on their website as well as visiting with Aaron Heizer at Maker’s Leather Supply (he is a dealer) and found many things about the machine that I really liked.  Soon this was the machine that I decided on and the machine that I was recommending to anyone that asked.

All of my fellow craftsmen that had this machine had nothing but good things to say about the machine and I even had one good friend that told me if I bought the machine and didn’t like it, he would buy it from me at full price and then he would have two… and this friend isn’t one that “falls in love” easily!  That confirmed it for me.

In January of 2018 I received my Cobra Class 4 and after setting it up in my shop I was in very pleased.  The machine performs better than I could of imagined and so far we are getting along great!

So in this video, not only will I be showing you some basic sewing machine processes that I use on a daily basis, but I also do a full review of this machine.  I also point out some safety tips as well.  The machine is now the new work horse in my shop and I show you why.

If you aren’t already, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you will be notified when the next video in this series is posted and if you like the video hit that thumbs up!

If you are looking into getting your first leather sewing machine, or are wanting to upgrade your current machine, check out Leather Machine Co. or give Aaron a call at Maker’s Leather Supply and they can answer any questions that you might have and the different machines they have to offer.

How To Make a Wristlet Purse

Our newest video on our YouTube channel shows you How To Make a Wristlet Purse.  I have had many questions about some good projects for using up the piles of scrap leather that we all generate in our shops.  Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional saddle maker, you probably have leather pieces in a box under a workbench that you saved for that special project.

Well, here is that special project!  I am the farthest thing from a professional bag/purse maker, but in this video I show you a simple wristlet purse that I designed that I believe is fairly simple to assemble and has a lot of potential.  I have found that when it comes to making purses, options and coordinating different colors, leathers, exotics, fringe, conchos, etc is key for them to sell well.

The patterns for this purse can be adjusted extremely easy to suit any taste and you can add different features to it to create a unique design for that special person or customer in your life.

There is a Companion Pack for this video that includes all the cut patterns as well as 12 different tooling patterns.  If you would like to have a copy of the patterns that I designed as well as the tooling patterns, then you can purchase those by CLICKING HERE.

I hope that you enjoy the video and if you haven’t already be sure and subscribe to the channel while you’re there… lots of great content coming this year so don’t miss out!

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.

If you want to go back and read the first article that I wrote on this topic then you are welcome to do that before watching this video, as it provides you with a great list of tools and supplies that you will need for my slicking process.  You can find that article HERE.

There are certainly many ways to accomplish the professional edges that you are looking for in your work and this is certainly not the only way to do this.  This is simply the best way that I have found to finish my edges.  This process was taught to me through years of studying best practices of some of the finest craftsman that I have ever had the oppurtunity to work with and learn from.  And to them I say thank you for passing down this bit of knowledge that I am going to pass down to you here.

I hope you enjoy this video and if you find it helpful, I would love to have you become a part of our Leatherhead community by subscribing to our Youtube channel as well as signing up for our Leathercraft Newsletter that goes out once a month!  You can subscribe to the newsletter at the end of this article by simply plugging in your email address.

 

Making a Leather Portfolio

I have had a lot of request for more videos on our YouTube channel that show projects from start to finish.  This video shows the complete process of making a leather portfolio.  These leather portfolios have been great projects for me over the years and they have so much room for customization.

Even during this age of digital organizers, cell phones and apps that help business stay on track, many people continue to use a legal pad and pens to conduct and keep track of daily activities.  The other thing that keeps customers ordering these items is that they tend to catch a lot of eyes.  Walk into a board meeting, have lunch with a client or have one of these on your console when showing properties to a home buyer and you are sure to start a conversation.

My goal with this post and video is to show my process and how I approach making a legal pad portfolio.  There are many different ways to create these and many different styles and sizes, all of which accomplish the same end result.  This video is simply the process that I have found that works best for me.

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Undercuts in Floral Tooling

Leather stamping tools can be somewhat overwhelming when you look at all the different brands, styles and types that are available from all the different producers.  Then you try to figure out which tools you actually need versus the ones that are just nice to have.  There seems to be an infinite amount of choices in the “nice to have” category.  While there are many stamping tools that fall into the “nice to have” category, Undercuts are not one of these.

In my opinion, undercuts belong in the “must have” category for any tool collection.  I have seen many collections where the maker simply made his own version of undercuts but the fact is that he had a set.  Much like a beveler, the undercut is one of those tools that can make your job smooth or the lack of them can hinder your tooling progression.

In this article we will discuss the purpose of undercuts along with some of the ways to modify them to make them unique to your style of tooling.  If you have watched my video on My Tool Rollthen you have seen the types of undercuts that I use and the different sizes. Continue reading

Properly Casing Leather

 From seasoned veterans to greenhorns, casing leather can be a trying task for many of us.  This is compounded with the fact that different brands and tannages of leather can react much differently to our standard casing process.  This makes it difficult sometimes to achieve the results that we want in our leather projects.

In this article I will discuss my process for casing leather and how I adapt for different thicknesses in order to get that perfect water content for carving and stamping.  I will also touch on casing leather during forming and how I case leather parts that require gluing during the forming process.

What is Casing leather?

“Casing” leather is the process of adding water to vegetable tanned leather.  This is done to soften the fibers of the leather to achieve many tasks within a leather crafting project.  These tasks can include carving with a swivel knife, stamping, forming and skiving or thinning down of leather.  Vegetable tanned leather has been tanned but is still in a bit of a raw state which allows the craftsman to introduce water easily into the fibers of the leather.  This is what is called “casing” and is an essential skill that must be learned.

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Make a Pancake Knife Scabbard

In this video I show how to make a pancake knife scabbard.  These scabbards are very popular and easy to make.  They are a great project whether you are new to leatherwork or a seasoned maker.

The scabbards that I am making in this video are patterned for a double blade trapper knife set at a forward tilt for a more comfortable fit and ease of taking the knife out.  In the video I walk you through my entire process from cutting them out to finishing the edges.

If you are wanting to make a few simple items that sell well to your customers, or want to make some gifts for christmas this is the item I suggest.

If you enjoy the video and would like to purchase the companion pattern pack for the video you can purchase it HERE.  The pattern pack is an INSTANT DOWNLOAD PDF that includes the cut patterns for both the front and back including stitch lines as well as 8 different tooling patterns to get you started.

The versatility of these scabbards are endless.  You can buckstitch them instead of sewing them, you can make them rough out for a more rugged look, you can make them simple by using scrap latigo, or make them as ornate as you would like with tooling, painting, and maybe bling (if your into that).

Thanks so much and I hope you find the video helpful.

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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