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This is a discussion on Home Brew Leather Projects within the Projects forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Hi Tony, Nice to meet you. Very nice craftsmanship on your blades, and I can appreciate wanting to make it all up from the git ...


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Old March 13th, 2012, 05:05 PM   #16
 
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Hi Tony,

Nice to meet you. Very nice craftsmanship on your blades, and I can appreciate wanting to make it all up from the git go as it were.

I can also appreciate your brothers field of endeavor. My MOS in the Marine Corps was 0317, I was assigned to 3rd Marines 3rd Batt Recon or 33 and a 1/3 as it was called way back when. Let's all hope the best for him and his buddies over there and that they get back here real soon.



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Old March 13th, 2012, 05:47 PM   #17
 
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Nice job. They look like a professional made.
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Old March 13th, 2012, 07:55 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by treadhead1952 View Post
Hi Steve,

The "How To Make Holsters" book will show you all you need to go from a paper pattern to completing a holster for that Alaskan of yours.

The last knife sheath that I made was for a favorite knife of mine, one of my Bowie styles, albeit a modern one.



Looking good treadhead. I have one knife that will fit in the standard Tandy sheath and one that I will have to make a sheath for. It's larger than normal.

Steve
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Old March 16th, 2012, 01:57 AM   #19
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Nice work! You folks are give me the urge to build a cross draw for my newly purchased Titanium 38.
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Old March 16th, 2012, 07:54 PM   #20
 
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Thumbs up

You sure do a fine job with your leather working. Thanks for sharing.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #21
 
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Hi All,

Thanks for the kind words everybody. I have been tinkering at leather craft over the years and every time I get a new handgun or something that can benefit from a chunk of cowhide to improve it use or carry it, I can't resist the urge.

This is another project that I thought up for a friend of mine, he has a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum revolver with a 3 and a half inch barrel. This makes it just a little difficult to get leather for, most of them are 4 inchers. Since it is a gift for his upcoming birthday, I can pretty well take my time and since I want to play around with some more stamping practice, this make a perfect victim, er subject.

The old Tandy "How To Make Holsters" book by Al Stohlman has a pattern for just such a revolver which makes my task a whole lot easier. The first thing that I did was scan the page with the patterns on it in my Epson printer. This required two scans since the books' pages are so large. I just had to make sure to get a little overlap on the holster pattern so that it would copy out to get the full sized pattern. They also give you a copy of the stamping outlines so you can trace that on to the leather. Running a copy of the page halves let me generate a full sized pattern on some 100 pound card stock. I like this as it is thick enough to trace around and keep on hand for multiple uses. Once I had the pattern generated, laying it over a chunk of veg tanned 4 to 5 ounce tooling leather soon had the holster in its' flat state cut out and ready for further attention.

Since I am planning on stamping this holster with a traditional Western Floral pattern the leather has to be first glued down to a piece of light weight card board to keep it from stretching as I pound the design into it. The stuff that shoe boxes are made from is just about right for this duty. Nike makes some rather large boxes for some of their tennis and athletic shoes and one of my stops at my job takes me by a ready source for such materials. I used some Elmers' #904 Rubber Cement to glue the leather to the card board. I poured out a blob of it in the center of the back side of the leather and spread it out with a piece of scrap leather that I use for such things. A nice even coating on the back of the leather is all you need. Before it can dry just slap it down on the center of your card board and then weight it with anything that will hold the leather down flat. In this case I used some full plastic pistol ammo boxes to do that job.

In the photo you can see that I have started by tracing out the pattern of the stamping on the leather in a dry state. I wanted to see if everything would fit properly without any overlaps and get an idea of how it would look. You can also see that there appears to be some moisture on the top of the leather, this is actually the carrier from the glue which will evaporate shortly. There is a small triangular dark spot which is a bit of glue that smeared on the face of the leather. I will let it dry and then I can just rub it off without any problems later.



Once the glue has a chance to set up overnight I will start "casing" the leather. To transfer the stamping pattern, cut and then stamp the face of the leather, it has to have a high moisture content. I will use a sponge to apply water to the face and let it soak in until the leather almost returns to its' original color. Then I can take a ball point stylus and lay the stamping pattern over the holster and trace all the lines that I need to cut. I will show you how this is done.
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Old March 18th, 2012, 04:40 PM   #22
 
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Cool Stuff!! Don't forget us as you progress.
Tony
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Old March 18th, 2012, 05:01 PM   #23
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Keep it coming Jay. I'm really enjoying this. I bought the book about how to make holsters and also a knife sheath kit. Where did you get that stand for your stamps?

Thanks,

Steve
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Old March 18th, 2012, 06:48 PM   #24
 
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Hi Steve and CD,

The little plastic tool rack is available from Tandy under stock number 8123-00 for $9.99 retail. Since I knew that I was going to be collecting up some more of their stamps, it was one of my early purchases. You may get away with storing the stamps in the plastic bags they give you when you purchase them, but they aren't really meant to be laid down or clang together, the rack makes good sense. They also have a larger wooden rack for more money or you could just get crafty and whip up one of your own from a likely looking chunk of 4" X 10" stock and a drill press. If my little collection gets too much larger, that is what I plan on doing.

Another caveat on the stamping tools, never strike them with a metal hammer face. They are chrome plated and first the chrome will start to flake off and then inevitably you will start to mushroom the heads until they start to chip off and ruin your day with metal splinters. A wooden mallet, a rawhide mallet, a hard rubber compound mallet, plastic hammer face or one of their fancy official Al Stohlman Nylon Mallets are all suitable for striking the stamps. I started my set of stamps by purchasing one of Tandy's Starter Sets that comes with a few small projects, stamps, needles, spools of thread, lace, an instructional CD and a booklet explaining the projects. Often they will put these on sale around the holidays for under $50 for the $80 sets.

I will be adding to the thread with the completion of this project and a few others as well, so stay tuned and along the way I will do my best to explain the tools and techniques, answer any questions that I can or point you in a direction to find out if I don't know. As my Ruger collection grows, you can rest assured that I will include the leather projects that I make for them as well as other stuff.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 12:05 PM   #25
 
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Hi All,

After another lovely week at work, I finally got a chance to sit down and get back to this last night. After letting the rubber cement set up it held the leather down nicely on the card board. To get started on the stamping process, the first thing to do is to wet the leather. It doesn't have to be pretty, just get the area that you are going to be working on damp overall.



Now you have to wait for the moisture to absorb into the leather, usually just a few minutes or until the surface of the leather returns to it's normal shade of tan. The moisture is still there, it should feel cool to the touch, it is just under the surface. I taped the paper pattern of the design to the edges after lining it up with the leather where it needed to go. Working quickly with a ball point stylus, I traced all the lines on to the leather surface. As the leather retains most of the moisture from the soaking, it takes this line drawing very nicely and gives you a guide so that you can cut the pattern in. Removing the paper pattern and you can see what I mean.



Taking my swivel knife in hand I first touched up the blade by rubbing it over a piece of card board that I had rubbed some jewelers rouge over. This just makes sure that it is nice and sharp and will cut easily so I don't have to press overly hard to get the lines cut in place. Running the tip of one side of the blade down the lines, turning the work as needed to be able to carve it easily didn't really take long at all. Practice with scrap leather that you will wind up with as a natural part of cutting out the pieces that you will work with gets you used to how to use a swivel knife. The more that you do the better that you will become. I am by no means an expert but I can do a workman like job that lets me work things out in the end.



Now comes the fun part of this all, stamping the pattern into the leather. Make sure that the leather is still damp enough to take a good impression. If at any time while you are stamping you notice that the leather isn't going down easily and the shade of the impressions left is not as dark as it should be, it is time to re-wet the leather. Admittedly this does take some practice to get a feeling for it and I am still working this out, but it does get easier as you do more of it (practice). You can re-wet the leather as often as you need to to get good impressions. It will dry out and you will have to do this several times over the course of stamping a design out, that is just the way this works.

Another thing, you have to decide which way to hold the stamping tool to get the proper impression oriented on your leather. If you study the drawing of your leather pattern, you will notice that the bevel goes one way or another, depending on what direction you want the depression to be. Naturally the border will go to the inside, but there are sections where parts of your design may actually be outside the edges of the border and the depression you want to leave will switch directions to the opposite of what you started with. This picture shows where most of the beveling is on the inside of the lines in relation to the pattern.



I did not get all the bevel work completed last night, the bed started calling me so before I got too tired and made too many mistakes, I quit and left it alone. This shows where the beveling has reversed itself on the outer edges of the pattern so that the designs will be raised as they should be. A lot of these will get gone over a couple more times with the beveling tool before I am done with it to help smooth things out and curve things a little more. Just remember to keep the leather moist enough to take a good tool impression and you can keep working the design until you are happy with it.



Today I finally got my chores completed so I can get back to work on the project. I will make another post showing more steps later on today. If anyone has any questions, feel free to post away, I shall return.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 12:33 PM   #26
 
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Killer work!!!!! I'm not sure about the "swivel knife"? Did you show it and I missed it? Is your design freehand? It's all fascinating to me! I've worked with leather a little but nothing of this caliber, it's neat, keep it coming!!!
Thanks,
Tony
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Old March 21st, 2012, 04:45 PM   #27
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by computerdynamics View Post
Killer work!!!!! I'm not sure about the "swivel knife"? Did you show it and I missed it? Is your design freehand? It's all fascinating to me! I've worked with leather a little but nothing of this caliber, it's neat, keep it coming!!!
Thanks,
Tony
Hi Tony,

No, this is the design that is in the Tandy book "How To Make Holsters" by Al Stohlman. The pattern to cut out the leather, the stamping pattern, the tools required to stamp the pattern as well as tips on how to go about the project are included in the single large page on this particular holster. The book contains several "Project" holsters of various types to fit a number of different handguns. Each project comes with one or two stamping patterns as well as full sized cut out patterns to make it easy to arrive at the size you need for a particular handgun be it revolver or pistol. There are also a set of directions at the beginning of the book that tells you how to make a generic holster to fit any handgun. It tells you how to make the pattern to cut the leather, how to lay out the belt strap for various positions of drawing angle and they even include a generic shoulder holster strap pattern. A very handy book to have if you want to start making your own just for fun or even to sell if that is your desire.

As to what a "Swivel Knife" is, to cut the lines into the leather so that you can stamp out the design a knife blade is required that will let you handle a blade almost as if you would a pen or pencil. The Swivel Knife is just such a device. Resting your index finger on the saddle at the top and holding the barrel between your thumb and middle finger so that you can rotate the knife blade as you drag it across the leather you can cut some pretty intricate patterns.



I finished all the bevel stamping with the pattern first, this lays out the lines that you cut in. Next comes what is called a Pear Shader, which is Pear Shaped and rounded. You can use the large end or the narrow end to do the actual shading of the design and again you have to study the layout pattern in the book to get that information.



Once you have the basic shading completed you turn to the Camouflage Tool and Veiner Tool to layout the patterns of veins and designs of the leaves. There are several types of these and all the other stamping tools and Tandy will sell them all to you individually or as a complete set. I find it is best to start with a few of them and learn to use what you got to figure it out. Once you get that part down, you will be better informed as to what you will need for this design or that technique. After adding yet more details with the above tools I stamped the center of the flower with an individual stamp made for that purpose. The next step uses the back ground tool to flatten down the leather that sticks up around all the leaves, stems and flower head of the design and gives it even more relief. Finally you go back to the swivel knife and cut some more detailing in and the stamping work is all completed.



While I am not an expert stamper, I can get by to suit myself and in the end that is all that is required for me. With all this work in the leather so far, it isn't complete yet. The leather that I used to act as a top is too thin for a good holster to support the weight of a revolver. By itself it would soon sag and lose it's shape and begin to collapse when the revolver was withdrawn. To get around this I cut a reverse pattern of the outer shell in some thicker leather and used contact cement to glue them together. I like a lined holster over a plain finished one. The lining makes it look better, last longer, and adds a little more quality to the holster overall. I used some Pigskin that is dark brown, cut a reversed pattern of the holster and then glued that to the inner part of the holster.



Now I get to start sewing all of this up. To start with you have to consider that there are some parts of the holster that once it is folded over would be difficult to get to like the belt loop. Also since I have added a double lining to this one it will require some stitching be done in advance of sewing the belt loop over, then folding the holster and sewing the edge together. The top and bottom edges will be the first parts to get sewn together. Using a grooving tool to recess the threads to protect them over the life of the holster is where all of this starts for me. I decide where I want these first stitched areas to start and end. Once that is done I can use a Pounce Wheel to layout the pattern of holes that I will punch out with an awl. Then I get to use a length of waxed thread with a needle on either end to use the saddle lock stitch which is as secure as one can get without using a machine. Here are these tools, first the stitching groover which is adjustable by means of a set screw in the top of the shaft to adjust how far from the edge you want the groove. In the middle is the Pounce Wheel that you can purchase in different rates of holes per inch, this one is 6 holes to an inch. And finally the Awl that I use which is incredibly sharp and capable of piercing several layers of leather with ease (or fingers that get in its' way for that matter ).



Stay tuned for the next installment.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 05:40 PM   #28
 
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Thanks for your patience explaining the process. I have a few simple tools like the sewing tool and the spacer. I'm going to tear into a piece of scrap and try to copy a little before I buy a set. the leather wasn't cheap as I remember? Here's a primitive one I made. The knife was from scratch and was a big job. The sheath has a "D" in it as a gift for my daughter. The marks that look like stitches are from a Torx bit and it was glued together, I said primitive.... ; ) Thanks for your time i'm checking it out for sure!
Tony

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Old March 21st, 2012, 05:47 PM   #29
 
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Looks great Ilike that stain color. Had a friend who got me into tooling and making things, would like to do it again. Time no money money no time.
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Old March 21st, 2012, 07:10 PM   #30
 
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Thanks for checking it out and I don't mind taking the time to explain what I am doing, that is the point of the thread. Sort of an open discussion of how to go about working with leather. This is pretty simple stuff and as you have seen it doesn't really take a whole lot to get fair results.

The color of the leather is how it looks after you stamp it and that is it, I have yet to do any dying or staining of it as yet. I usually wait until after I have the project nearly complete before I add stains and dyes. It saves on wear and tear as you are building the stuff up.

You may think that it is pretty simple stuff on your knife sheath Tony, but it is a start and if it gets you interested in going further with it, that is great. And yes, leather prices are just like everything else, going up. But if you get in the habit of checking out the places like Tandy on a regular basis, they do have sales on this cut and that section which drops the prices way down. They also have some cuts like what is called a "Belly" which is the bottom cut from the sides of a hide that they sell pretty inexpensively. There is enough leather in one to make a few sheaths and a holster or two. They also have sales where they will sell a belt blank for a reasonable price and that is a pretty good deal as it is already sized, trimmed and has the holes for adding the buckle and rivets in place.

As to purchasing the tools required, you can stretch those purchases out over a longer period so that it doesn't come up and bite your wallet too hard. But when you do buy something, make it as good a tool as you can afford for the money. My awl is made by C. S. Osborne, one of the best awl makers there is in the industry, I have had it for years and it is as sharp as it was when I bought it. The steel in it is some seriously tough stuff and does not bend or deform or lose it's edge. When I bought it I paid nearly three times what Tandy wanted for their similar house brand. The little ball point stylus is another quality tool that I have had for quite a while now, it originally cost $16, that is quite a bit for what appears to be a simple tool, but the quality that is in the steel and well ground ends makes it what it is.
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