Leather Crafting Posts

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.

 


Leather Tools For Bookbinding

Posted on: December 6th, 2015 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Stamping Extremely Thin Leather?

Earlier this year, a customer visited my shop looking for some leather tools to decorate a bookbinding cover he was working on. It turned out his name is Ronny Fritz, owner of Peregrino Press in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia who does professional bookbinding. He wanted to buy some leather stamp tools for a particular job he was doing which involved bookbinding an old book that was falling apart.

He showed me a sample of the vegetable tanned calf skin which he was planning on imprinting with the new leather tools.  Like other bookbinding leathers, it was very thin and I could not imagine how he could imprint such thin leather by striking the stamp tool with a hammer without going right through the leather.  I myself am not a bookbinder and work with much thicker leathers and leather craft tools for belts, dog collars, knife cases and guitar straps etc which take deep impressions.

However Ronny said he would send me some info on how he successfully can imprint on these thin vegetable tanned calf skins. He graciously shared these photos and info on how he beautifully imprinted, rebound and restored this old worn book.

Front covered imprinted with leather tools that were heated.

Front covered design stamped with leather tools that were heated.

Titling between the stamped designs was done with a gel pen.

Titling with a gel pen.

Design lines embossed with wheel of map measure tool.

Design lines made with wheel of map measure tool.

Heating Leather Tools For Stamping

The technique he used to imprint the thinner leather was to use heat with light pressure as opposed to pressure impacts with a hammer which would leave too deep an imprint. He made wooden handles for the metal stamp tools so he could pick them up from the hot plate without scorching his fingers.  A 1/4 ” hole was drilled about 3″ deep into 1″ x 1″ x 6″ wood. He used an electric hot plate to heat the tools. (See photo below). Without a thermostat he had to keep testing the tool shaft against a damp cloth until it just sizzled. He tested hand pressure and dwell time on scraps and when things were looking good, he imprinted the actual leather on the book.

Some leather tools used by Peregrino Press for stamping leather and bookbinding.

Some leather tools used by Peregrino Press for imprinting leather and bookbinding.

Design Layout For Imprint Tools

Layout of the design elements–lines, fleurons, title patch–was done on tracing paper. This template was used as a guide to transfer the designs onto the leather. First, a light cold impression was made through the tracing paper template. Then the final heated impression was made with the template removed. Just hand pressure was used to push the leather tools into the dampened leather so as to not cut through the delicate calfskin. He did a few touch ups to try to make all impressions the same “intensity”.

If you look closely at some of Ronny Fritz’s tools (shown above), you will see some non-traditional items that were used with ingenuity as leather tools to imprint the leather. Lines were made on dampened leather with an unheated tiny wheel of an old map measurer drawn along a straight edge, and the terminal dots with the head of a 3d finishing nail.  The title was written with permanent ink using a o.5 mm black gel pen.

Bookbinding Project Notes

To see the long process of rebinding this book that was falling apart and refurbishing it, view the the photos and notes below that Peregrino Press shared with me.  Bookbinding is a trade in itself as you can see from the many steps such as removing worn parts, cleaning, trimming, hand sewing, mounting, rounding, molding, pasting, polishing, titling & tooling. Many thanks to Ronny Fritz of Peregrino Press for all the information provided for this article on this particular bookbinding project.

Page 1 - Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 1 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 2 - Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 2 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 3 - Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 3 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 4 - Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 4 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 5 - Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

Page 5 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press

<img class="wp-image-1092" title="Page 6 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press" src="http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/peregrino-press-bookbinding-page-6.jpg" alt="Page 6 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press" width="770" height="1057" srcset="http://blog.leathersmithdesigns cialis versand.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/peregrino-press-bookbinding-page-6.jpg 1280w, http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/peregrino-press-bookbinding-page-6-255×350.jpg 255w, http://blog.leathersmithdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/peregrino-press-bookbinding-page-6-561×770.jpg 561w” sizes=”(max-width: 770px) 100vw, 770px” />

Page 6 – Bookbinding Notes from Peregrino Press


Leather Craft On Shoestring Budget

Posted on: May 28th, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Tree Stump For Leather Craft Work Bench

When I was in school in the 1970’s at Admiral Westphal Junior High School, some friends came home with me on the school bus to help haul this tree stump out of the woods and down the basement stairs at my parent’s home. A neighbour came over with a chainsaw to level off the top for me. Although I now have my own leather shop, this tree stump has been moved to several locations over the years and has been continually used for punching holes in leather and for holding leather craft tools.

A tree stump is very common in leather shops since it is so solid that their isn’t any bounce when pounding holes in leather or for setting rivets.  On the side of the tree stump is attached a wooden block with holes drilled in it hold the various sizes of leather hole punches.  More leather craft tools are held in place with short strips of leather nailed to the tree stump.  I have been using this same tree stump work bench for many decades.

Hand Make Leather Craft Tools

The anvil on it is actually a train rail. My metal shop teacher in Junior High allowed me to come in on many many noon hours to use a hacksaw to saw the bottom off the train rail. A friend of mine helped me carry it from school to his house about half a mile a way where we took turns with a large electric hand grinder trying to smooth the narrow end which someone had originally cut with a blow torch. I still use the anvil for setting, rivets, setting snaps and pounding leather.

In the background you can see a red handled awl in a cork block which my uncle made for me out of screw driver. I have been using it since I was a young teenager. Other tools made at that time which I still use from time to time are imprint stamps that were made by hand filing and grinding designs into spike heads or metal rods.  With my father’s guidance, we built a workbench out of 2″ X 4″ studs and heavy plywood for cutting my leather.  Sometimes when I was able to pick up larger rusty items cheap like metal shoe lasts, another neighbour sandblasted off the rust and painted it for me so it look brand new.  Even the local furnace repair man saved me some old furnace fan motors from replaced furnaces.  I converted the motors into grinders and drum sanders with some attachments cialis versandapotheke.

Involve Other Leather Hobbyists

You could also get someone else involved with your leather craft hobby so you could go splits on the tools to make it more affordable.  My brother did leather work with me for about half a year when I first started and he bought some beginner leather craft tools.  However his interest was only short lived.

When I was a young kid, I was lucky to have so many people support me and help me get started in my business since I did not have the money at that age to buy a lot of tools. Many of my original tools were made by myself or with the help of others.  Every year for birthday or Christmas gifts, I would always ask for a new leather craft tool to start building my collection of tools which would expand my leather crafting capabilities.

 

Tree stump used as work bench for punching holes, riveting and holding leather craft tools.

Tree stump used as work bench for punching holes, riveting and holding leather craft tools.

 


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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