Making Leather Craft Products Category

Pallet Shelf DIY

Posted on: May 18th, 2016 by Alana LeBlanc

Let me start off by saying thank you for checking out our (do it yourself) DIY Pallet Shelf article from Leathersmith Designs, where we always strive to provide the best quality leather products for our customers. Today we are going to show you how to make a Leather Belt Shelf from old belts and a pallet. Jamie had some old belts from years ago that were well loved but didn’t fit and needed to be retired. After suggesting to Jamie that he throw them out and watching him almost have a stroke (he loves his job that much he can’t stand to let leather reach the garbage), I suggested maybe trying to build a shelf from recycled materials.

Pallet shelf suspended by leather belts.

Pallet shelf hanging by leather belts.

Materials For Pallet Shelf

1.  We receive around 5 or 6 pallet loads of leather each year. It just so happened that when we went to start this project we had just received one pallet. Starting this project meant making a list of materials:

– Two Belts
– Pallet Boards or whatever wood you like to use
– Screws
– Wall Anchors
– Rivets

Tools used:

– Saw
– Crowbar
– Hammer
– Square
– Sander
– C Clamps
– Drill
– Hole Punch
– Level
– Screw Driver

Worn wooden pallet kept from hide shipment at our leather shop.

Old wooden pallet kept from a leather shipment that arrived at our leather shop.

Discarded leather belts to be used for strap shelf.

Leather belts to be recycled for a strap shelf.

Check your closet for some solid leather belts that are no longer used. However they are probably in perfect condition to be used for this DIY hanging shelf. They don’t have to match exactly. We used a black and brown belt on the same shelf for this project.

Salvage Boards For Pallet Shelf

2.  The first step was to take apart our pallet.  Jamie wore eye and ear protectors when he used the circular saw. He sawed off the end piece to avoid having to pry up so many boards that were securely nailed. The balance of the boards were pried apart using a crowbar and hammer.

Sawing pallet boards for pallet shelf.

First saw cut to remove pallet boards for pallet shelf.

Alana using crowbar to take apart boards for DIY hanging shelves.

Alana using a crowbar to pry boards apart.

Just about finished salvaging wood for the hanging belt shelves.

Almost finished salvaging wood for the hanging belt shelves.

Rough wood salvaged from pallet.

Lots of rough wood salvaged.

Finishing Wood Shelf

3.  Next we removed old nails (if needed) and cut our pieces to size. If you are using pallet wood, please take some time to sand off rough edges, discoloration and dirt.

Measuring and squaring the length for the pallet shelves.

Squaring ends and measuring the length for the pallet shelves.

Sanding discoloration and roughness from wooden shelf secured in wood vice.

Sanding roughness and discoloration from wooden shelf that is held securely in wood vice.

Assembling Wood

C clamps securely hold assembly pieces in place.

C clamps secures assembly pieces in place.

 4.  After our boards are cut to size and sanded, we assembled the shelf itself. Drill pilot holes in the wood in advance to prevent the wood from splitting. We used 1″ screws for ours but that was based on the thickness of the wood we used.

Pilot holes for screws drilled while C clamps hold boards in position.

C clamps holds boards in position for drilling screw holes.

Electric drill screws shelf boards together.

Using an electric drill to screw shelf boards together.

Attaching Leather Belts

5.  Now time to attach the leather belts. We decided to incorporate the buckle for appearance and in case length adjustment was required later. Normally we use snaps to attach buckles on the belts we make to allow our customers to change buckles if they so choose. But for this project we wanted to use leather rivets for strength so I used a drill press to drill out the old snaps and then replaced them with rapid rivets. You can use a pair of pincer pliers which is just as easy to remove the snaps. If the buckle is sewn on the belts you are using, that will also work well as long as the stitching is not worn at any point. A rivet setter was used to set the rapid rivet which keep the nice curve on the rivet cap.

Rivets secure buckles on solid leather belts.

Solid leather belts with buckles secured by rivets.

Leather hole punch makes screw holes in leather belt.

Leather punch makes holes in leather for screws.

Belt attached to shelf with screws.

Leather belt secured to shelf with screws.

This next step is a dealer’s choice step. You can choose to either secure the belt to the bottom of the shelf or not. Some people will attach the leather belts to the wall and rest the shelf within the loops without tacking or securing the shelf to the belts. This choice is fine and will not change the strength of the shelf but the shelf could get knocked out of place. Rather than use nails that might split the wood, we drilled pilot holes for screws. We chose to use 1″ screws, two on either side, to secure our shelf to the belts. To do this you should punch a hole in the leather before you attach with screws. The leather hole punch tool we use is a round drive punch. You can also use the hole punch to make holes for more adjustment lengths regarding the buckle.

Secure Hanging Shelf To Wall

6.  The final step is to hang your shelf on the wall. Make sure if you are not securing your shelf to studs in the wall, use drywall anchors. Put a level on the shelf and mark your holes that way. One belt could be stretched slightly so this way you know the shelf itself is level. Although leather is strong it can stretch slightly over time. These shelves are meant more for decoration than something like a long heavily loaded bookshelf.

Wall anchors are used to secure the leather strap to the gyprock.

Leather straps are secured to the gyprock with wall anchors.

DIY Shelves Finished

7.  Then you are Done!! These artistic hanging shelves can be used for displaying decorations, pictures, tools, canned goods or flowers.

Leather hand tools sit on pallet shelf.

Pallet shelf used in shop for leather hand tools.

The finished DIY shelf displays special decorations nicely.

This finished DIY shelf is nice for displaying special decorations.

Pantry goods stored on DIY pallet shelves.

DIY pallet shelves can be used for the extra space required for pantry goods.

 


Organ Repair With Leather & Piano Repair

Posted on: August 10th, 2015 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Professional Organ Repair & Piano Repair

Dwight Mallory makes a living by doing professional organ repair, piano repair and piano tuning throughout Nova Scotia, Canada. Dwight is a customer of mine from Cole Harbour, NS that has dropped into my leather shop over many years.

Dwight Mallory picking up  leather strips for valve covers on bellows from Leathersmith Designs to use in an organ repair.

Dwight Mallory picking up leather strips from Leathersmith Designs for valve covers on organ repair to bellows.

Leather Used In Organ Repair On Bellows

Selling leather craft supplies is interesting when customers show you the unique projects they create. Dwight sometimes requires leather pieces to be used in some of his piano / organ repairs and refinishing.  On pianos, the leather is sometimes used as an insert in the music rack.  In the organ, the leather is a key part in the operation of the organ bellow. Leather is also sometimes used on pallets which act like an air valves.

Video showing Recovering Organ Bellows With Leather

 

Fixed organ bellows with leather valve covers in place in bottom of organ.

Organ repair to bellows with new leather valve covers in place near bottom of organ.

Organ Refinishing & Piano Refinishing

I knew about Dwight’s piano tuning expertise as he has tuned pianos for my family members over many years.  He has also tuned pianos for famous music artists such as the Rankins, Roger Whittaker and Rita MacNeil cialis in tschechien.  His customers include large music chains, school boards and the Halifax Conservatory of Music.

However I did not know about the intricate finishing and organ repair work he did.  I discovered it when I started quizzing him in detail during his last visit to our leather shop.  I was wondering how he used the leather supplies he purchased from us in his work.  I was amazed at the detail and degree of organ repair and piano repair work he did.  He explained it to me and shared some videos shown below. He must be knowledgeable when working with such high string tension pressures.  A medium sized piano contains 230 strings.  Each string has about 165 pound of pressure for a combined pull of about 18 – 19 tons. The working part of the piano called the action has about 7500 parts.  He can take the piano or organ totally apart and reassemble them.  He can do everything from restringing pianos to refinishing the woodwork.

Video showing Refinishing of Willis upright piano

It is interesting to watch the transformation in the musical instrument. A worn out of tune instrument becomes a beautiful finished and wonderful sounding organ or piano. In the following video, Dwight Mallory starts his repair with an organ that is so worn and neglected that it even has a mouse nest. The organ repairs involves first disassembling the organ so wooden parts can be stripped and scraped of old finishes. The wood is sanded before applying numerous coats of stains and finishes. Old yellowing keys are cleaned and made bright white. Worn metal metal pedals are chromed. Brass pieces are polished. Other worn buttons and parts are replaced. The last part of the organ repair is to reassemble all the pieces which looks like a gigantic puzzle. What a beautiful finished product. The piano style organ looks brand new after numerous hours of skilled hand repair work by Dwight Mallory Piano Service.

Video showing Refinishing piano style reed organ that is over 100 years old.


Travel Money Belt Custom Made

Posted on: November 15th, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Making A Travel Money Belt

1.  Our leather travel money belts are made totally from genuine cowhide, both the top and bottom pieces.  The belt is first cut from a piece of 5-6 oz thick premium tooling leather with a strap cutter leather craft tool.  This thickness is for the top piece of the money belt.  The underneath piece of the leather money belt that contains the long zipper pocket is cut from 3-4 oz thick premium tooling leather.  Note that the hide must have a straight cut along the edge for the strap cutter tool to follow along.

Cutting the travel money belt from the hide.

Cutting the travel money belt from the hide with the strap cutter leather tool.

Tooling Design and Name in Leather

2.  The custom money belts are made individually when the order is placed.  Many people want us to make their travel money belts plain.  However, others request it be made with an imprinted design or name.  To imprint a design into the leather, the top surface is first dampened with water to allow the metal stamp to deboss the leather surface.  The metal stamp tool is struck with a wooden or rawhide mallet while the leather sits on a hard smooth surface like this piece of quartz. Also it is important that the table is solid and does not have any bounce.

Designs stamped into the leather belt.

Designs and names can be hammered into the damp leather belt.

 Dyeing the Leather

3.  Four coats of dye are applied to the leather money belt. The applicator in the picture is made of sheep’s wool stapled to a wooden block.  This thick applicator holds a lot of dye which allows it to flow into the design.  If we wanted the dye not to go into the design so there would be a contrasting color of the natural leather leather showing through, we would have used a thinner applicator of flannel fabric stapled to a wooden block. Vinyl gloves are worn to keep the dye and other leather chemicals from absorbing into our own skin which would be unhealthy.   After that, neatsfoot oil is rubbed in to condition the leather.  Finally two coats of resolene polish provides a beautifully shined finish and top seal.

Leather dye applied to the travel money belt.

Leather dye is applied with a sheepskin applicator to the cowhide money belt.

Making Long Zipper Hidden Pocket

4.  The zipper is sewn into the bottom piece of leather on our industrial walking foot sewing machine.  We buy the zipper in very long lengths so we can make the zipper pocket as long as the person’s waist size will allow.  The bigger the waist the longer the zipper pocket.

 

Long zipper pocket sewn in travel money belt.

Long zipper sewn in travel money belt.

Contact cement is applied along the edge inside edge of both pieces of leather.  When the contact cement has dried enough so that it is not sticky, both leather pieces are carefully pressed together.  The two leather pieces are bonded together with the tapping of a cobbler’s hammer on an anvil.  The access leather is then trimmed off with a sharp utility knife.

Hammer taps the leather belt pieces together to bond glue.

The leather zipper pocket and top leather are tapped with a hammer to bond the contact cement.

 

Finishing Edges and Belt Ends

5.  Although the excess leather had been trimmed, the edge is sanded smooth and even before the two pieces of leather are sewn together on our walking foot industrial sewing machine with industrial nylon thread for strength.

Sanding edges of leather travel money belt.

Edges of travel money belt sanded even and smooth.

Next, the leather edge corners are rounded off for a finished look as well as for comfort.  The hand beveller tool will be used to round all four corner edges along the length of the belt.

Leather edges rounded with beveller tool.

Belt edges are rounded with a bevelling hand tool.

After the edges are dyed and burnished with beeswax, the buckle is ready to be attached.  First rivet holes are punched as well as an oblong shape hole for the buckle tongue.  Rapid rivets are set to permanently secure the buckle. The buckle is a quality silver chrome plated solid brass buckle or a gold solid brass buckle.

Rivets secure the buckle to the custom leather money belt.

Buckle is secured in place by setting rivets in the custom money belt.

A drive punch tool is struck with a hammer to make seven round buckle adjustment holes.  We do all our punching and setting of rivets on a large tree stump that is used as a work table. The stump is solid and will not allow any bounce when hammering.  We also put a piece of scrap leather under the belt being punched to allow the sharp edges of the leather hole punch tool to last longer.

Hammering drive punch to make holes in leather money belt.

A drive punch tool makes holes in the leather travel money belt.

 Finished Travel Money Belt

6.  Our custom made money belt will easily pack a lot of trifolded bills in the hidden zipper pocket.  People hide the money in the belt for vacation travel and business trips.  So not to bring attention to the money belt, daily purchases should be made with money from your wallet or purse.  Back in your hotel room, you would take money from your travel money belt to add to your wallet or purse for one day’s needs.  We can provide you the leather craft supplies to make your own belts. Custom made travel money belts for men and women can also be made by us for you in various widths and colors.

Finished travel money belt ready to securely hide your money.

Tooled design leather money belt ready to hide your money for your vacation.

 


Making Customized Guitar Straps

Posted on: May 18th, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Leather Hide For Making Customized Guitar Straps

First a premium piece of tooling cowhide must be chosen to avoid marks and nicks that could be visible in the finished leather craft project.  5 – 6 oz leather thickness works well for making customized guitar straps to give the required strength but also enough suppleness. We choose leather that has been properly prepared on the underneath side from the tannery so there will be no fuzzy pieces of leather coming off on your clothes when you are wearing the guitar strap. Leather hides are supplied in various thickness for different leather craft projects.

custom guitar strap on roll of cowhide

All our custom guitar straps are cut from quality premium tooling cowhide.

Stamp Design

After the leather guitar strap has been cut, we dampen it with water on the top surface only. A firm solid flat surface to work on such as a piece of marble or granite is used when making customized guitar straps. When stamping the guitar straps, we need a firm and solid surface so the stamp tool will not bounce when we hit it with the rawhide mallet. As we stamp the design down the guitar strap, the water will start to dry out so we will have to dampen it again with a wet sponge. If we want to stamp in a name, now is the time to do that as well. This is a labor intensive process since not only each stamp has to be lined up neatly but each stamp has to be hit with the same hardness so the design will all be the same depth. There are lots of leather craft stamps available to decorate your special leather project.

When making customized guitar straps, designs and lettering can be hand stamped into the damp leather.

When making customized guitar straps, designs and lettering can be hand stamped into the damp leather.

Dye Leather

After the water has dried from the leather, we are ready apply leather dye the top surface of the leather. Professional oil dye by the Fiebing Company is used for coloring our guitar straps. It penetrates deeply into the leather while allowing the natural grains of the leather to be seen. Although it is more expensive, we choose to use it so we will not have to worry about rub off like some poorer quality leather dyes.  However, Eco Flo dye also works well and is less expensive to ship since it is not flammable, it does not have to be shipped a special way and therefore is often less expensive to ship. We have a folded piece of flannel cloth nailed to a wooden block cialis canada. The cloth makes a nice applicator to rub the dye into the leather. The wooden block allows us to hold the applicator easily. Protective gloves are worn so we won’t have to have our hands dyed for weeks. The dye is rubbed on the guitar strap being very careful not to get it into the stamped design. This is a tedious time consuming process when making customized guitar straps. Many applications are applied to get an even coverage and the desired darkness we want. Keep in mind that this leather dye is meant for natural undyed vegetable tanned leather and not meant for redying leather that has already been colored.

Guitar Strap Dyeing

The custom leather guitar strap is dyed by hand, being careful not to go into the imprint.

Border Design

Once the dye has dried, we can make a boarder design along the guitar strap with this groove tool. This adjustable groover tool is also used for making stitch grooves for doing sewing for other leather craft projects. There is a small set screw which allows us to adjust how far from the edge we want the groove to be. This groove tool is also a great leather craft tool to make channels for sewing other leather projects.

Guitar Strap Line

A boarder line adds a nice touch to our imprinted guitar straps.

Round Edges

Rather than have a square edge, we round the edge of the guitar strap with this beveller for a more finished look. There are different size bevellers for taking off a little from the edge to a lot. When making customized guitar straps, we even bevel the underneath side for a more comfortable feel on the shoulder. Although we bevel both the top and bottom side of our guitar straps, the bottom is a lot harder to do. Using proper leather craft tools makes the job a lot easier. Now that all the design work is in the leather, we dip the guitar strap into a vat of neatsfoot oil compound to keep the leather from drying out and to give it some more suppleness. After the neatsfoot oil is absorbed over a few hours, we touch it up a bit more with some neatsfoot oil on a brush to even out the color since the neatsfoot oil darkens the leather.

Guitar Strap Bevelling

The corner edges are rounded with a bevelling tool.

Dye Edges

The edges of the guitar straps are dyed with a different dye than the surface. We use Fiebing’s acrylic dye because it holds down all the edge fibers of the leather. Since it is a hard finish, we burnish the edges when dry with beeswax using a denim applicator. Now the surface is ready to have a couple coats of polish, letting each coat thoroughly dry before the next is applied. There are many polishes for leather that will work well. However, we choose Fiebing’s Resolene since it helps seal the dye as well as giving a brilliant quality finish to the leather. There is also other types of leather polish that give a nice finish on the leather. The leather polishes we supply are made for vegetable tanned leather.

Guitar Strap Edge Dyeing

Dyeing the edge of the guitar strap.

Slot Hole Punch For Making Customized Guitar Straps

We punch the slots for adjustment and the round holes for the guitar knobs using a heavy rawhide mallet and an oblong slot punch. So we will not get bounce when we punch the holes, we use a solid wooden tree stump as a work bench. These oblong leather hole punch tools are also used for the slot when using a buckle in a leather craft project.

Punching oblong holes for making customized guitar straps adjustable.

Punching oblong holes for making customized guitar straps adjustable.

Guitar Strap Finished

Now the customize guitar strap is finished and ready to be worn by a musician. This quality personalized leather guitar strap will last for many years and will become more supple with wear. You can see what has been involved in making customized guitar straps from the unfinished piece of leather to the finalized leather craft product. See more of our finished guitar straps on our web page custom leather guitar straps. If you do leather craft work and enjoy making customized guitar straps, check out our leather craft supplies pages for leather hides, leather tools, hole punches, leather craft stamps and leather dyes.

Guitar Strap Leather

Finished custom guitar strap on cowhide it was originally crafted from.


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