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Old 10-20-2012, 10:27 AM   #1
Mars Rover
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Anyone here know to to work Leather? Made a guitar strap?

Anyone here know how to work with leather? From what little work I've done, I know it's difficult to get pro results. I searched the web but found little help. I guess I could buy a book but this is just a quick one-off project. The leather will the fairly thick (1/8") and about as stiff as sturdy belt. It involves making long, straight cuts to make leather straps about 3 inches wide. I guess it's the hardness and toughness (a bit stiffer than the strap I'm trying to copy) of this hide that makes me apprehensive.

I want to copy my Bobby Lee strap. It's a comfortable, intelligent design. I like the way the length adjusts by re-lacing the end pieces. The method is stronger than it looks and the strap feels like a one-piece unit once you settle on a length. Of course Bobby Lee has a huge selection but no all leather models in their online catalog - so I guess they don't make this anymore. Also, I want one in Black with white lacing so I guess I'll try to make one. I may play around with the lacing design to give it a different look.

1) The hide section I ordered is almost 4 feet long and cuts will be full length. Cuts must be dead-straight with no slanted slices (to look like a pro job). What's the best way to accomplish this?

2) Looking edge-on at a good quality belt, the edges don't look like raw, straight cuts. They appear to be blended in with softer corners and a bit slicker, smoother and perhaps even shinier than the top grain. Shiny isn't important but the edges should look "finished". This is the look I'm going for. What may be the best way to accomplish this? Can hard leather edges be sanded and buffed like wood?

3) The piece of hide I ordered is dyed black so I assume the cut edges will require dye as well? What may be the best product for this and are there any methods of blending it in to match? Should this be the last step?

Thanks for any advice!

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Old 10-20-2012, 12:08 PM   #2
chuck knuckles
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My lvl 80 Troll Rogue on the Illidan Realm of World of Warcraft is a lvl 450 Leatherworker. Sadly, I am not
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:09 PM   #3
KG6_Steven
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I've never worked with leather, but I might have an idea that would work to get you the perfectly straight cuts you desire. What you need is something like a block. A block of wood would work quite well, as long as the angles are perfect 90s. Not sure what kind of knife you're using, but the idea is to hold the knife against the block and move both together as you make your cut. This would give you perfectly straight cuts. Even better, might be some method of attaching the knife, or blade, to the block. As you move the block, you obtain that perfect cut. Does this help?

Not sure I'd assume the leather is dyed all the way through. Unless they state that in the description, I'd assume the leather is only dyed on the surface. You might need some type of a dye pen to tint cut edges.
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Old 10-20-2012, 01:12 PM   #4
Mars Rover
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck knuckles
My lvl 80 Troll Rogue on the Illidan Realm of World of Warcraft is a lvl 450 Leatherworker. Sadly, I am not


That's Hilarious. When I googled leather craft, the last thing I expected to be near the top of my search results was an article on making midevil garb for fantasy role players who like to meet in municiple parks and whack each other with foam rubber weapons. Article was not at all helpful.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:48 AM   #5
seabear70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars Rover
1) The hide section I ordered is almost 4 feet long and cuts will be full length. Cuts must be dead-straight with no slanted slices (to look like a pro job). What's the best way to accomplish this?

2) Looking edge-on at a good quality belt, the edges don't look like raw, straight cuts. They appear to be blended in with softer corners and a bit slicker, smoother and perhaps even shinier than the top grain. Shiny isn't important but the edges should look "finished". This is the look I'm going for. What may be the best way to accomplish this? Can hard leather edges be sanded and buffed like wood?

3) The piece of hide I ordered is dyed black so I assume the cut edges will require dye as well? What may be the best product for this and are there any methods of blending it in to match? Should this be the last step?

Thanks for any advice!



First, to make things a little easier, by making the leather softer, soak it in water for several days. It will be easier to cut and work with.

1. To make a 4 foot straight cut, you will need a 4 foot straight edge. One possibility, though it would be expensive, is to buy the track for a glass sliding door. cheaper would be some aluminum v channel. Regardless, you probably don't have one sitting in your closet.

2. Edging will be a two step process. First use something like this to shape the leather. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/...ts/8076-03.aspx Though I cannot be sure of the size you need. Then follow up with this to smooth it. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/...ts/8122-00.aspx You might be able to get by with a pulley you have around the house for the second part, but for $4 you might as well do it right.

3. This should take care of your edge coloring. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/...ts/2810-01.aspx
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:19 AM   #6
Robbgnarly
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My dad is a leather-smith who does mostly horse saddles and tack. But what I do know is you must have an extremely sharp hook blade knife and a straight edge to use when making long cuts or it will look like crap.

Harbor freight has aluminum straight edges for very cheap

Seabear70 has pretty much nailed it.
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Old 10-21-2012, 12:25 PM   #7
Mars Rover
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Thanks for the suggestions. It may turn out that the hide I ordered is softer than I expected but still thick enough for a good strap. If so, it may be too soft to contour and burnish the edges, then the raw edges would be pretty much like the original and still acceptable. As for the white lacing, I have not found 1/4" wide leather reasonably priced yet but I think I will eventually.
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