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This is a discussion on Home Brew Leather Projects within the Projects forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Sorry for not getting back into this sooner but work called. Now that I am off from that I can provide some more information. And ...


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Old March 25th, 2012, 03:38 PM   #46
 
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Sorry for not getting back into this sooner but work called. Now that I am off from that I can provide some more information. And I am trying to do this in as fair a manner as possible and not start up a flame contest.

First off, whether or not a type of leather will absorb water is one way to tell what type it is, chrome tanned leather is water stable, that is to say that it won't readily absorb water and it can withstand boiling water. Vegetable tanned leather soaks up water easily, if you stick it in boiling water it will shrink, become rigid and eventually brittle. These properties make it suitable to make leather armor from, which it has been used for centuries to do. Natural Chrome tanned leather is blue green in color, natural vegetable tanned leather is tan to brown in color. Either type can be dyed to a rainbow of colors. Chrome tanned leather is stretchy, one of the reasons it has been used for upholstery, clothing, bookbinding, art projects, and liners. Vegetable tanned leather is not, one of the reasons that it is used for embossing or stamping tooled designs into. It is also very stable, that is to say, once it is molded when wet it will keep that shape. This is one of the reasons that it is used to make holsters with, also belts, saddles, bridles, harnesses, clothing, bookbinding, art projects, crafts, and leather armor. Hmm, there seems to be some overlap there. Chrome Tanned Leather is often less expensive than Vegetable Tanned Leather, the reasons being that the process is less expensive to make it.

As I stated before, I finish my leather projects with a suitable leather finish, usually Fiebings' Tan Kote, which penetrates the leather, stabilizing the agents it was tanned with and the leather itself and making it water proof. It is very hot here in Las Vegas, I sweat when I have to go out and about in the summertime. My holsters usually have to deal with it, inside the waistband, belt or whatever type they are. This is one of the reasons that I know that Fiebings' Tan Kote works and works well. It is also another reason that I know that I am not overly concerned with this issue. If it is a problem for some, the easy way around it is to use a man made product in place of the lining leathers which may or may not be chrome tanned or vegetable tanned. Shoot, for that matter, check out making holsters with Kydex, that avoids the issue entirely.

But getting back to the reason for this thread, making your own stuff out of leather, how easy it is, tips on things to look out for which has been belabored in the issue of Chrome Tanning verses Vegetable Tanning, you can use vegetable tanned leather to make the holster body with and line it with more of the same or even chrome tanned product provided you are willing to finish it out completely inside and out. Also a holster is not meant to be a pistol or revolver storage device, that is what your gun safe is for. A holster is where it gets carried while on your person. Maintaining your firearm is a personal thing, but if you intend on it defending you and yours, you best be scrupulous and thorough about it, not to mention train with it on a regular basis.

Don't think that Tandy Leather is the only source of leather for making things with. There are a bunch of leather suppliers out there that are very reputable and on the internet. They also usually have suggestions, tools and even scrap books of photos of the folks that have purchased their products and what they do with them.

Brettuns Village Leather - Great leather at low cost!

Home - Springfield Leather Co. Inc.

https://www.siegelofca.com/

Leather Unlimited Corp-Friendly Service and Quality Leather for over 40 years



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Old March 25th, 2012, 04:33 PM   #47
 
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Lightbulb Tooled holsters

Anyone ever tool a holster and then form it to your gun. I've been wanting to try it but I'm afraid of what it will do to the carving. Wanting to do it for my Ruger LCR.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 06:22 PM   #48
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindab View Post
Anyone ever tool a holster and then form it to your gun. I've been wanting to try it but I'm afraid of what it will do to the carving. Wanting to do it for my Ruger LCR.
Hi Linda,

Making up a holster, after you get the pattern shape established and cut out, trace your stamped design, cut the lines, tool it, then do any dye work. If you are using acrylic dyes, wait until after you form the holster to do the dye work. Before you do the actual assembly dampen and burnish the edges along the top, bottom, and belt loop. After assembly, oil up your revolver, place it in a plastic bag, wet the holster in water and put the revolver in place and form the leather to the shape of the revolver using your fingers and then once the leather starts to dry remove the revolver and let the holster dry out the rest of the way. It shouldn't mess up your stamped design, usually they are more tightly compressed than just a single wetting will release. Usually you will have to re-wet the holster a few times as you tool it anyway as it will dry out. As the holster is drying don't forget to mold the edges with a slicker or smooth boning tool. After it is dry you can use the acrylic dyes and finish overall. Don't forget to pull your revolver out of the plastic bag, clean and re-oil it to prevent rust.

The order of making one of these up is to cut out, mark, stamp, dye, punch out any rivet holes or lacing holes, burnish edges and then assemble with the only variation really being in the dye application if you are using acrylic dyes and finishes. As the acrylic dyes are water permeable, you would naturally have to wait until after you wet form the holster to the revolver or pistol.

Hope this helps you out.

Show us some pictures of your project on here.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 05:45 PM   #49
 
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Hi All,

I got to do some more work on my little S&W .357 project today. I cut a groove across the fold line to make things easier. With the two layers of leather and liner the holster material is a full 1/4 inch thick which would be tough to fold on its' own. I applied a layer of Contact Cement to the "D" Shaped area of the pattern where the belt loop is secured and another to the back of the pattern that is folded over and sewn in place. Letting it tack over and then holding it down and securing the fold with Bull Dog Spring Clamps to keep it in place while I punched the holes to run the stitches through from the already punched holes in the loop to the back of the holster. The Awl I use has a blade long enough to penetrate the 1/2 inch thick combined thickness. I stitched it together using one continuous length of waxed poly thread in a traditional saddle stitch that loops back and forth through each hole in a lock stitch.



Next up is sewing the back of the holster up which will fill the rest of the holes that I have punched in place. Glued up and stitched like this makes for a very secure holster that will probably last this owner and a couple more down the line. The longer in use and the more broken in it gets, the better it is. I will have to figure out how to get the pistol or one like it so I can fit the holster to the revolver. This is done by wetting the holster, stuffing the revolver in place and forming it to the shape of the revolver and allowing it to dry. Once completed I can do the final dyeing and finish steps to complete it.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 05:49 PM   #50
 
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Kick butt!!! Keep it comin'! I'm surprised that you are going to such great lengths to give away your secrets? This is great stuff!
Thanks again,
Tony

Last edited by computerdynamics; March 28th, 2012 at 05:53 PM.
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Old March 31st, 2012, 05:23 PM   #51
 
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Thanks Tony,

As to giving away the secrets, all it takes is a little reading and research online as well as some practice and you can track down most of these "secrets". The Tandy Leather Book, "How To Make Holsters" by Al Stohlman is highly recommended reading as it takes you through all of this stuff little bit at a time and breaks it down. Add a couple of other books in their basic knowledge on things like tooling and how to make other things like cases, sheaths and other leather goodies and turning this stuff out isn't really that difficult.

Getting back to the little S&W .357 Holster Project that I am working on for my buddy, I managed to get it stitched together. After a little smoothing over of the edges and making it look okay, I got out the dye and high lighter and started working on it, the darker dye first in the lowest parts of the stamped design and around the edges. Once that was done I applied the high lighter, a sort of see through dye that makes the deeply incised parts of the pattern darker and then blends the rest of it to compliment the color scheme overall. I still have to find a revolver like my buddy's or borrow his long enough to fit the holster to it properly, but for that part, I have to wait on the final finish coats. But this will give you an idea of what it will come out looking like.





This color work makes the stamped and cut parts of the design really stand out nicely. Now I can turn too on my newer project and let this one sit for a day or two while I look about for a revolver to get the fit of this one done.

I have a used black powder Colt 1851 Navy in .44 caliber coming soon, I wish that I could find a Ruger Old Army Model, but most of those are going for over $500, a bit rich for me at the moment. At any rate, I will be needing a holster to fit it. Taking one of the other designs in the Tandy book, I am adapting it to work for the .44. I scanned the patterns into the computer first so that I can print out copies that I can cut up, tape together and in general, mangle to my hearts content. This makes it easier to do the actual cutting and modifying of the pattern for my purposes. After arriving at a pattern I could use to cut the leather out with, I cut two, one facing the other so that I will have a finished side inside and outside.



The tooling pattern for this one is a real doozy and while I am waiting to receive my "New to Me" revolver, it should keep me busy. The holster has a couple of other features that I like as well and I will show these off as I come to them. To get things started, I coated the insides of the two pieces with a layer of Contact Cement and let it tack off. I carefully put the two pieces together doing my best to keep them lined up.



Rather than glue one piece down to a chunk of card board to do the tooling, I chose to glue it to the liner piece instead. To make it even more secure I started stitching up the parts that I need to sew before I fold it over to form the holster, the top which is the flap and the bottom. First I used a sharp knife to trim the leather all the way around the edges so they would be perfectly even. Next I used my Adjustable Grooving Tool to run a single line all the way around the outer edge of the parts. The Pounce Wheel was run around the groove to set a series of dots 6 to the inch so I had a pattern to punch with my awl. Then comes the fun part, punching all those little holes for the thread to run in and out of.





With that done, I could begin my stitching. I use a Saddle Lock Stitch for all this work, basically what a sewing machine does with the thread coming from the top and below crossing over one another. To get the same effect by hand I use a single long length of thread and attach a needle to each end of it. Folding the holster over to form it into the shape that it would be as a holster lets me locate the beginning and ending holes at the bottom first. This is one of those neat features that caught my eye about this particular holster pattern, the bottom is offset from the front to the rear. I did need to run a second groove on the inside section for the length of this double exposed part and carefully punch the holes so that they penetrated the second inner groove. Starting the thread at the beginning hole, I draw it up so that the thread is even, one side to the other and then pass the needles through the second hole, this illustrates how this lock stitch works but in reality the needles only get shoved through one at a time from side to side and then the slack is drawn up tight.



Once I got the stitching done all the way to the ending point for this part I re-stitch the last four or five holes back to lock the thread in place and trim it off even rather than attempt to tie a knot. Much neater and more efficient, you can see where I have over stitched the ending part.



And when it gets folded over and stitched, this is how this trick little feature will look.



Now comes a really long piece of thread and a whole bunch of stitches to go all around the top edge of the holster and the entire perimeter of the flap. Once that was done, I added grooves around each of the four cut outs that the holster body will pass through to give me the two loop pattern. These also got the Pounce Wheel treatment and then were stitched up. You can see where I alternated the ending lock stitches on each one. These all got one individual length of thread even the longest run.



More to come so stay tuned.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 02:40 PM   #52
 
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Hi All,

Sorry for being AWOL as it were, but the last couple of weeks have been a bit busy on my weekends. I have been waiting for a moment when I had an entire afternoon free to transfer the design to my new holster project. Unfortunately, I am still waiting. But the itch to do something in leather has not faded, so I turned to another project that I have been wanting to do which I can finish up in a day or two.

In this case it is a ammo carrying shotgun stock sleeve. I purchased one of those Chinese made Coach Guns a while back since we don't really have an American Shotgun maker currently who is peddling any. I do like the 20 inch long barrels for up close stuff and the outside hammers and double triggers just add to the charm that it holds. But being a double it does lack the ammunition carrying ability that we have gotten used to with tube magazine pumps and semi autos. The sleeve is one answer to this issue and making up one is relatively simple.

I used a section of a sheet from my wall calendar to wrap the stock and come up with the dimensions that I would need for my sleeve. Doing all the fitting with paper saves wasting leather in a big way. Once I had established the size and shape of my sleeve pattern I dug around in my scrap pile and found a piece of 3 to 5 ounce leather big enough and cut it out. To make the shell holder part I chose a section of dark brown suede that I had. I folded over the top edge, glued it then stitched it up to make it a bit stiffer and easier to insert the shells once assembled. Punching a pair of holes in the leather backing and then connecting them by slicing with a sharp Xacto Knife Blade opened up a slot to pass one end of the suede shell holder strip in place. Stitching a line to lock that end in place on the underside of the leather gave me a starting point.

I tucked a shell in under the suede, snugged it up against the side of shell and then proceeded to punch and stitch the first shell holder in place. The second, third and all the rest went on one after the other. At the end of the row I cut another slot as I had done to start this off and stitched it in place finishing a six shell series of holders.

I wanted to customize my sleeve a bit and make it mine so adding a set of initials is a fast and easy way to do so. I traced a set of 3/4 inch high letters in a diagonal then made a border for them with a ruler and a couple of round bottle lids as layout tools. Cutting them in and stamping it all out was easy enough. I dyed it to match the home made sling that I had already done a while back. A couple of coats of Fiebings Tan Kote Finish after tapering the edges all around and slicking them up finished it up to this point.



I used a length of oil finished latigo lace to lace it onto the butt of the shotgun once it had dried. Reverse Tapering the shell holder section of suede gives it a home made appearance that is distinctive while the stitching, dying and finishing it has belie that look. Overall, not a bad little addition to my Coach Gun from some scrap leather and the limited time that I had available to get something leather accomplished.



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Old April 5th, 2012, 03:11 PM   #53
 
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You are one leather making hotdog!!! ; ) Clever and quick!
Keep up the great work, I'm always waitng and watching,
Tony
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Old April 11th, 2012, 07:43 PM   #54
 
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Thanks Tony,

Finding stuff to do while kickin' back in the evenings has always been something that I do from wa-ay back when. Little projects like the shotgun sleeve help to keep larger projects like my new holster from turning into back burner items instead of something that I get to look forward to. After a couple of weeks of having to take up slack while other folks were on vacations it is nice to get a couple of days off that I can spend on my new holster.

Before transferring the design pattern to the holster I took the time to sharpen up my little swivel knife. Like all knives, it does need regular sharpening when being in use a lot. But since the blade is ground at such a wide angle, almost like a chisel it doesn't need the attentions of a sharpening stone, merely a little stropping much like a barbers' straight razor. My strop is made from a length of extra leather that I had from the scrap box. I rub some jeweler's rouge over the surface to make a surface to polish the blade and rub it down over the leather drawing it full length. This keeps the sharpened point smooth so that I can draw it over the leather and make the turns and bends required easily. A small chunk of jeweler's rouge can be purchased at Tandy's Leather Store or online, it will last for years.



To transfer the design patterns for my holster I popped a copy of the two sections that get tooled from the scans I made of the book pages. Trimming them down to make them fit easily on the leather and taping one edge so that I can check to see how things progress, make sure I haven't missed any parts of the design and how they are fitting on there.



It is necessary to wet the leather prior to transferring the designs. A sponge does the trick then let the leather surface dry to the point that it returns to the original light tan color. There is plenty of water under the surface and using the ball point scribe tracing over the paper pattern transfers it to the leather.



Doing the same thing to the other part of the leather that gets tooled so that things are kept even in the process is a good idea.



As you can see, this is a complicated little pattern with lots of work involved. It is not one that gets done in one sitting. Re-wetting the leather while working on things is necessary, but does no harm. Just to get all this transferred with the scribe took two wettings.



Once it is transferred then you get to break out the swivel knife and cut it in. The leather has to be wet for this as well as the tooling part. When it gets to dry, the blade will start to drag and the leather won't "Open" up when it gets cut.



After getting cut in, you can start tooling the design, starting with a bevel tool first to go over all the lines and recess the background. After that a shading tool makes the raised parts a bit more defined. A veiner tool adds patterns to the leaves and then the swivel knife is used to add detailing to the vines and other parts. Finally a background tool recesses the lowest levels of the pattern. When I got the two straps tooled in that go over the face of the holster body I re-wet that part and formed the straps a bit by hand then started smoothing the edges of the open parts.



That is about as far as I can go in one day. I don't want to push it any further for today, tomorrow will let me do more and I can re-wet the pattern to tool the face of the holster. I will wait until I get the tooling all done before I do any dye work. But it will be done before I stitch up the back of the holster body. I will also be punching a series of holes in the back of the holster and the backing to run the leg tie down thong through. It will be a little higher than normal due to the undercut bottom edge of this particular holster design, but it will still need one due to the length of the revolver. Once that stitching is done I can smooth up the back section and tuck the holster body into the two straps.
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Old April 12th, 2012, 01:55 PM   #55
 
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Here is my most recent ("homebrew leather project")
It is a lined holster for a SBH, it's a strong side high ride style, which is kinda what I wanted.




I also posted some pictures of crossdraw western style holster for a single six in another thread.
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Old April 12th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #56
 
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Hi Seneca,

Now that looks sharp, nice clean stitching and layout. I like that style of holster as well, one of the first ones that I made when I purchased my .45 Colt Uberti Clone is quite similar.





I went with a thumb snap and a forward tilt since I got a nice spare tire.
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Old April 14th, 2012, 01:52 PM   #57
 
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Really enjoy watching your project progress...

This is the one I did for my Single Six, it's a crossdraw...I wanted to try something new with the muzzle end of the holster so I changed it up a bit so a bit of the muzzle would peek out...




I also make 5 round shotshell belt sliders, I gotta do something with the scrap leather from holster projects...or it piles up!

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Old April 15th, 2012, 03:47 PM   #58
 
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Thats a real professional work of art,congrats.
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Old April 17th, 2012, 07:23 PM   #59
 
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Hi All,

I have to agree with you, that is some nice work. I am also using that same barrel peeking out on the end on this holster project. Of course, the pistol that will be going in the holster is far from being ready, lots of cleaning, refinishing and other little touches, sort of like the holster.

While waiting for my weekend to arrive and knowing that I wanted to add a few other items to my current project, I grubbed around in the scrap box and came up with some small sized pieces that I could join together to form into a cap pouch to go on my belt. These all came from different pieces of scrap leather, but as you will see, joining them up and working over them allows you to come up with some interesting stuff. The main body of the pouch is two pieces joined by gluing and stitching, the belt loop and two end panel pieces are all ready for some more work.



Since I have a holster pattern already in the works, to join all these together just requires tooling in a like manner. I popped another copy of the line drawing of the holster and used it to come up with this stamping pattern for the cap pouch. I will do much the same for the bullet and ball pouch and the flask pouch. When I start to tool the belt, I will just make an extension of this same pattern.



As you can see tooling the leather makes it spread out a bit. Usually this is controlled by gluing the leather pieces to a chunk of card board, in this particular instance, I wanted the face of the pouch to spread out a bit and used that effect to do what I wanted. Next up is stitching the belt loop in place and then adding the snap to the main body and then stitching on the two end panels. Doing these little side projects also gives me more practice in working on the stamping of this pattern.
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Old April 18th, 2012, 02:29 PM   #60
 
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Hi All,

I stitched up my little side project and got it all together. Once that was done I did some dye work to color it up some and then after it had dried I went over it a couple of time with some Tan Kote Protective Leather Finish inside and out to seal it up. I threaded a section of the 2 inch wide strap that I am making my gun belt out of to verify that it fits and it does hold 5 cans of CCI or Remington percussion caps.



The side panels look like so after finishing out.





Looking at it from the front makes me think about painting the snap a medium brown color with some enamel to match it up with the rest of the project. All in all not too bad of a use for some scrap leather and a few evenings of tinkering.



Now back to work on my holster.
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