Things for Leatherworking

I have a friend that is trying to learn 120 things in 20 years.  Well, one of those internet friends whom I will never meet in real life. He mentioned that he was thinking about learning Leatherworking as a thing so I thought I would give a primer on the subject. Not that I am an expert or anything. Sometimes starting is the hardest part, and not knowing what to start with is a lot of the reason to not start.

My half done leather messenger bag.

A good intro into all the words used in leatherworking can be found at https://www.tandyleather.com/en/leather-buying-guide.html.

Leather is sold by weight. Weight per square foot in ounces. The thicker the leather, the heavier the leather, the larger the number. There are charts out there there that will approximate the weight to the thickness to the scale of 1 oz equals 1/64th of an inch. Or thereabouts.

Thicker leather is used for different things than thinner leather. Next time you have something made out of leather, feel the thickness of the leather. Think about why that thickness of leather was used.

There are different ways they make leather – chrome tanned or veg tanned. This is different ways that it is made, different chemistry. I would imagine that there are different strengths and weaknesses for each type, but I don’t know the details. I get whatever is cheapest at the time.

Once you find your leather, you will also need a few things to get started. A cut thing, a stitch thing, likely a few hole things, marking things, and possibly a hit thing.

Cut things are pretty important. I see a lot of videos where people use a disposable razor knife, which seems to work well. They sell expensive half circle knives, which look like they work really well. I’ve made one, but have yet to try it on leather. I use a rotary cutter and like it.

Stitch things are really important. I use two types of needles. Harness Needles and Glovers Needles. Harness needles are not really sharp and are good for going through existing holes. They tend to be used two at a time, one on each end of the thread. You end up making a stitch that looks like a sewing machine stitch, but is much better. The stitches this way don’t unravel easily if cut like from a machine. Glovers needles are wicked sharp and are used on thinner leather like it is cloth. The two threads I’ve tried are the waxed thread and artificial senew. I like the waxed thread better.

There are lots of ways to make holes. The hole things are the second expensive thing to buy, after the leather. You can use them to make little holes to stitch in and you can make not so little but still small holes to put rivets and snaps into. The simplest hole tool is the awl. This makes small holes. I’ve found that some awls are better than others. Long, thin, well tapered and smoothed awls like a needle work better than cheaper awls with a simple angled ground tip like a nail. I’ve not tried making one yet, but I have a few broken drill bits I may give a try to grind. You can get round hole punches which are handy. The kind that looks like a punch and needs a mallet is fussy to use, but can be used to make holes that aren’t near an edge of the leather. The type that looks like a pinwheel crossed with a paper punch is easier to use, but only works near the edges of the leather. My favorite hole tool is the stitching punches. These are the most expensive, but singularly made my work look better. I didn’t skimp on these, getting the nicer set available at the store. Getting nice even stitches is a huge improvement on the niceness of the finished product.

Nice stitching punches.

Mark things help layout and measuring and stuff. I find ball point pens work well. In woodworking, they say if you want to make a line, use a pencil, if you want a fine line, use a sharp pencil, if you want a perfect cut, use a knife. I do a lot of marking with my knife, but I prefer using an awl – it leaves a good mark but doesn’t cut the surface weakening the leather. I picked up a cheap divider (looks like the old geometry class compass) and use it for marking stitch lines along the edges of the leather. This trick with the stitching punches is what made my work go from a total hack job to not bad.

I use a simple stick as my hit thing. Why buy something that I found in my yard?

A stick found in the yard works as a mallet.

I’ve done a bit of reading, and a lot of youtube watching to learn how to do a bit of leatherworking. It’s hard at first to sort out who knows what they are talking about and who’s not any better than I am. Once you find a good youtube author, give ’em a subscribe so you can keep getting more of the better videos.

I made a leather business card holder for my new business cards

I 3D printed the frame and embossing element. I also incorporated a NFC tag so I can use the case to transfer info digitally from the case as well.

A bit of high-tech, and a bit of old-school leather work. My favorite way of doing things. My leather working skills aren't good yet, but they are getting close to fair. I love being able to do stuff.

It's even on GitHub if you want one of your own. https://github.com/creuzerm/openscad-projects/tree/master/Leather%20Business%20Card%20Holder

Lots of photos with descriptions to look at in the album.

In album 3D printed & Leather business card holder

My new business card! I added a NFC tag inside the case so I can also just tap a smart phone to the business card holder and transfer the data that way. A very high-tech business card holder.

The logo doesn’t show well under flash yet. I suspect a few months in a pocket will change that. You can see how I started at the computer & 3d printer to make the business card holder.

Printing a plastic frame and an embossing logo at the same time.

The printed frame. Note the rivet holes, sewing holes, and the steampunk themed monogram.

My printer is pretty loose and sloppy, so I clean up all the holes with a drill press. A few minutes here saves lots of frustration when sewing.

I am loving the rotary cutter for cutting this thin leather. No pulling and stretching and causing ill-fitting leather sides.

The leather is VERY thin, so I bond it to plastic to make it more resilient. This happens to be a Mt Dew 2 Liter Soda Bottle. Lots of poking holes so I can sew it later.

I made a custom leather belt case for my custom wireless charging flip cased Galaxy…

I made a custom leather belt case for my custom wireless charging flip cased Galaxy Note Edge. It's been a fairly drawn out project getting the two cases made – from March until now. But the results are worth the effort.

The main design goal was to not bend my phone when I sit on it in my pocket as it is HUGE I also wanted to show off the nifty 'edge' feature.

I bought all the materials for both aspects of the case at the same time. I will also be making a matching Leatherman holster as well as a 2nd iteration of my home made wallet – http://mike.creuzer.com/2014/07/i-made-a-new-wallet-last-night.html. There will me more scrap leather after that, so I am sure some more projects will come of that 1 piece of leather.

The Wireless Charging Flip Case details are at http://mike.creuzer.com/2015/08/i-few-months-back-i-bought-a-galaxy-note-edge-on-ebay.html

I had made a phone case for a different phone with details found at http://mike.creuzer.com/2014/01/i-made-a-phone-belt-case.html This other case has a built in solar charger which is pretty darn cool. That feature didn't make it into this case as it's not really worth the effort as the solar panel that small takes 3 days to charge and gets me 30 minutes of usage.

Lots of pictures to look at with descriptions for each image with this project.

In album Note Edge belt case

The finished product. The case is designed to make the edge display visible on my phone while it is in the belt case.

A little bit of planning. The black leather is very stiff so I have a strong back to attach the belt clip to.

A bought belt clip and leather, and a pair of 3D printed sides. There are holes in the printed parts so I can sew through them to sew the leather onto the ends.

I drilled holes in the heavy leather for sewing and punched holes for the belt clip. The big hole in the printed plastic is for a hinge for a retaining strap which I don’t think I will need.

The green leather is bonded to the heavy leather. Glue it and sew it. I find my stitching looks neater if I am not fighting the pieces moving while I am trying to sew.

Riveted the belt clip on. I like the fancier rivets.

My rivet job is less than perfect. The flap of green leather on the right is folded over to protect the phone from the rivet bits seen here.

Phone is now protected from the rivets!

Yeah, I make stuff using trash. The green plastic is a bit of Mt. Dew 2 liter soda bottle. When the curve seen here is flattened, it wants to curve 90 degrees off of the main curve. I glued it on so the curve tips the top front out so it’s easier to get the phone in.

You can see how the plastic wants to curve. Big Binder clips are the best assembly tool ever!

2 needles, 6 foot of thread on each side. I really need to make a stitching horse. You can see here how the phone case matches my phone case.

I sharpen my glover’s needles on my diamond sharpener. You can see I have 1 side stitched up. Looks pretty good!

The Galaxy Note Edge in the custom flip case, next to the the custom belt case.

It slides right in, like it was designed for it! Oh, wait, I did design it to do this!

This was my desired end result. Being able to see the ‘edge’ on my phone and the data that it can display.

I few months back I bought a Galaxy Note Edge on eBay

It came with several case options which I would have never bought myself, but they are interesting. The one that I thought I wouldn't like but fell in love with is the flip-case. Granted, I was not fond of the white case, but the functionality was more than I would have expected. It just missed one feature.

Wireless Charging.

I LOVE wireless charging. Almost as much as I love the fast-charger that came with the phone.

There are hacks to get wireless charging into a flip case. But I would need to order a wireless charge back plus a new black flip case. Because I really don't like the white. If I am going to do the work of hacking something, I want it the way I want it.

So I made my own.

I still bought a wireless back – it's crazy the cheap prices on eBay for some stuff. And I spent a good chunk of money at Tandy Leather. More than if I would have gotten a 'real' case, but I got stuff that will allow me to make exactly what I want.

In album Galaxy Note Edge Wireless Flip Case

The phone flip case. The hole in the flap is so I can turn the cover all the way around and take a photo. A feature that the ‘real’ flip case doesn’t sport.

The Note Edge uses a quick charger, which is AMAZING… if you have the charger with you. So I bought a 110v AC and a 12v DC charger.

You can get a wireless charging back cover for the Galaxy Note Edge, or a pretty nifty flip case. But not both features in one case. So I bought some bits and pieces from Tandy. Green leather, rivets, a belt clip, a magnet, tools, etc.

The flip case is ‘smart’ in that it talks to the phone. I have no idea what it says, but most people who are doing this mod are tearing apart both cases, and putting the wireless charging into the flip case. I don’t like the color of my white flip case that came with my eBay phone.

So I attacked my brand new wireless charging back cover with my drill press. I al less than keen with how I ended up with holes. I need to mark them before I drill. Eyeball isn’t good enough.

Lots of holes in my new case.

Holes all the way around.

The green leather is much darker looking to the eye. But this is what I am going to sew onto my phone case.

The front cover needs on the flip case needs to be stiffer. I happened to buy just what I needed when I bought my back cover. The plastic that the cover came in! Re-use all we can, right?

Stitching the leather onto the case was pretty easy. This corner proved difficult though. I ended up super-gluing the edge of the leather down to the plastic. I think the leather is stuck as much as stiffened up so it doesn’t come away from the plastic.

This is basically a cut-to-fit type build. The holes are cut after I sewed one end on.

The speaker has a lift to it so there is an air-gap between the phone and the table so you can hear the speaker. Clever!

The fake plastic leather or the real leather?

Guide lines for cutting based on tracing of the holes.

Leather glue all over the place. I am not sure if I like this type of glue.

All glued and stitched once.

I have a trip on the calendar for the 4th of July for a trip with a buddy (who isn't…

I have a trip on the calendar for the 4th of July for a trip with a buddy (who isn't a ULer). My wife sent me to Aldi's for some ground beef, and I saw a few things I just had to have. A 40oz stainless water bottle and the Adventuridge Lightweight Foldable Backpack.

The backpack really reminded me of a small version of the G4 DIY ultralight bag. I've been meaning to make that bag for a few whiles. Just no time and a lack of ambition.

This bag is $10 and folds into itself. The back is padded, and the straps are double layer, but not padded. I figure I can rip open the seam, add my own padding, and sew it back up as good as new. Suggestions on a padded shoulder strap material?

There was also a black and red version. I picked this bright (like bright blue car bright) blue and silver one because I have some 'twilight grey' fabric dye I like to use to tone down bright articles. It should match my Kelty Hip Bag I posted here a few months ago.

I stuck it on the scale and it comes in at under 11oz or a touch over 300 grams. It claims 7.9 gallons which is 30 liters or 1825 cubic inches. A kids bag in size, really, but I suffer from fill-er-up-itis so a small bag is just what I need. I also have kids… so when I start going with them, they will have a bag to use as well.

I do plan on mating it to my Kelty hip bag with some clips so they function as a single bag. The Kelty is a great hip bag and will do the load bearing bit. This new bag is for the lighter stuff like the sleeping bag, hammock and such.

In album Aldi’s Ultralight backpack

This photo is pretty close to the true color of the light blue. It’s actually brighter yet to the eye than to the camera.

10 3/4 oz for a 7.9 gallon backpack. The best part? $10!

306 grams (including the cardboard tags). It folds up into itself nicely as well.

Turn it over, and you see it’s a backpack that really looks like that DIY G4 backpack I’ve seen plans for online. And it folds into itself so I can stash it nicely when I am not using it.

The outside is nice and simple. The over-flap has a zipper pocket like is very common. The color is very bright. Florescent lighting doesn’t really capture it.

The back is padded, but the straps aren’t really padded. I figure I can open up a seam, add some padding, and re-sew the seam on the straps.

I gave the brand new bag in a dye-dunk to try to tone the brightness down and make it more closely match my Kelty Oriele bag. The gray is a tad purplish, but this dye does that. I think a second round and I may have it tinted quite nicely to match. Also check out that big 40oz stainless water bottle for $5 at Aldi’s as well.

The hip pack has clips for shoulder straps. I plan on clipping the new bag onto the hip pack and using the hip pack like the waist belt. The heavy stuff can go into the lower bag, the light, bulky stuff can go in the new bag.