View Full Version : A gift for a friend
04-05-2007, 05:18 PM
I wanted to show you my latest leather project gift that I just finished. A ranger belt with black dyed hand sewn billets, a silver 3 piece western floral buckle set, and an acorn and oak leaf hand carved/tooled design, dyed antique tan, all finished with a coat of acrylic leather finish buffed to a shine. It took me about 4 days to make this one on and off.
The back showing the design.
It is a good hobby.
04-05-2007, 05:30 PM
04-05-2007, 06:17 PM
Very nice indeed!
04-05-2007, 07:56 PM
That's beautiful work Chako, very nice for sure. I'm sure that it is a gift that will last 20 years or better.
It's getting hard to find good workmanship.
04-05-2007, 10:35 PM
Thank you for the nice comments.
In case anyone is interested in the steps in making one of these. What follows is a condensed accounting.
1. Buy a belt blank or make your own from cow hide and a strip tool.
2. Measure the person you’re making the belt for. What I do is measure the hole most used, right up to where the belt enters the buckle. Mark the measurements using a pencil on your blank.
3. Using a special strap cutter, trim the blank to size, making sure that the measurements are correct.
4. Next is to round the belt so that the edges aren't square. I use a #3 edger which I run on all 4 edges (front and back). This trims the corners and rounds them.
5. Cut the billets using some patterns with a pair of leather shears. Round the top edges with the edger, and not the side that is in contact with the belt.
6. Place the billets on the belt blank. I center the middle hole with the measurement pencil mark. I then use an awl to punch holes where I am going to sew the billet to the belt. Making sure the holes go right through both the billet and the belt. Do the same for the other billet that will hold the buckle. This is also a good time to use a leather punch to make your holes in your billets that will accept the belt buckle. I use special oval punches as they fit buckles better then the round ones.
7. Now it is time to decorate the belt. Wet the leather with a sponge, and using a metal stylus (tools that are often used with modeling clay), draw your pattern on the belt. You can free draw or use a template you drew on special plastic tracing paper.
8. Once the pattern is traced on the wet belt, use a swivel knife to carve the pattern. The trick is to only go half way into the leather. Always pull the knife towards you when doing the cuts.
9. Now using a beveller stamping tool and a leather mallet, bevel the design to push the background down. this caused the image to look 3D.
10. Once this is done, I use a background tool that looks like a very small meat tenderizer, I stipple the background. Always use the same force with the mallet. This brings out the design further and causes contrast when dye is later applied.
11. I then use several stamping tools to work on the foreground to make the design more appealing along with some light swivel knife cuts.
12. I then condition the belt by rubbing in neatsfoot oils. This makes the belt super flexible. During this process, I will bend the belt back and forth and rub it with a cotton cloth. Let it dry completely. The oils will sink into the belt.
13. The next step is to dye the belt and the billets. Be sure to let dry completely.
14. After the dye is dry, I then use an edge slicker to further round the belt edges and smooth them out. I wet the belt edge with water, then I run a nylon wheel and burnish the edges by rubbing it back and forth. This finishes the edges and smoothes out any roughness. I do the same for the billets.
15. next step is to sew the billets to the belt. I use a whip stitch. Basically I take a meter long piece of waxed thread. I then place a needle on each end of the thread. I then center the thread by placing one needle through the first hole, making sure that each side with a needle is even distance wise. Next step is to push the needle on one side through the belt (I always do the good side first). I follow that with the other side through the same hole. I repeat this whip stitching until I reach the end. I will then overlap the next 3 holes to finish it. Cut the thread and use a mallet to tap the sewing.
16. An acrylic leather finisher will then be applied to all surfaces and let to dry completely. Afterwards, the belt is buffed with a cotton rag. This shines the surface, and protects the belt from water. You can use a variety of leather waxes as well.
17. The last step is to attach the buckle, trim the end billet to accept the end protector, etc.
One ranger belt done.
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