Friday, August 29, 2008

The Case...

I must say, I like working on the sewn cases much better than the riveted ones. The riveted ones are nice, relatively safe from fatal errors (and subsequently tossing to the scrap pile), but everyone makes riveted cases. The sewns ones, in my opinion take a little more time to cut but the finished product, I think, is a classic style. Simple, but effective.

I start by cutting the rough shape of the case. Everything is cut by hand using knifes and a straight edge. The leather is 1/8" thick or thicker, but a sharp knife (I use a strop and white buffing compound) will cut like butter.

I develop patterns using AutoCAD, plot and glue the to cardboard. Intricate patterns are made using adobe Illustrator. I acquired a 24" printer plotter, so full size patterns will be great (when I get a chance to print them!). Pattens are then traced on to the leather using a scratch awl, then cut using a head knife. It is a semicircular blade that cuts curved shapes extremely well.

Finally, the finished back of the case. A front piece is cut to nearly the same width, with a little left on to trim.

I picked up a trick from a leatherworking forum. While trimming edges has always been difficult, I took an old block plane, and sharpened the blade razor sharp. Now, I can trim the edges perfectly, getting the ready to sew and burnish.

Before I trim the edges, I glue the case, install some hardware, then stitch the full length of each side. The corners are then reinforced with rivets. Below, the case is stitched with heavy thread.

Once stitched, the edges are finished and burnished on a spindle fitted with a leather burnishing drum. Actually, not only the are the cases burnished, but all parts cut for the case are burninshed.

Lastly the edges are dyed, ready for installation of the handle or strap.

Once the handle and strap are one, the case gets tubes, and finally the bottom is stitched on by hand. The bottom it cut by hand, glued and stitched. Bottoms are stitched by hand, using a saddle stitch which uses two needles and an awl. It is time consuming, but it really the best way to stitch. I can do them on a machine, but I prefer not to.

Finally, once the bottom is stitched, it gets burnished and dyed. That about it for now. Next time? Maybe some tooling or something...

Thanks for looking.


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