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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, guys, this is sort of a place-holder thread for Laz's black strap for his SuperCombat B1.

The pix are of a similar strap that I'm wearing on my M28, but will ultimately go on my M53.

I just got the black cowhide, and will post pictures of cutting the strap from the hide, tomorrow!

This is the model strap for Laz's, but his will be black, and the keeper will be stitched, too.



 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
From Tannery to Bench

So, Laz' black, SuperCombat B1 Strap is being harvested from a nice, "double shoulder" premium cowhide from norther Europe.

The hide is "split" at the factory to a weight of 8 oz (8/64" = 1/8"). Then it is stained and treated with preservatives, and it's stacked with other hides on pallets. Because the hide is still damp, when stacked, it sometimes develops a "bloom" (algae) that must be removed; it leaves dark hides like this one with a "milky" appearance.

Image 1: Hide as it arrives from tannery.



Image 2: The first step is to trim the hide with a reference guide; I first cut it with a utility knife to create one, perfectly straight edge. The leading edge must be straight so that the wooden strap-cutter can produce straps of uniform width...



Image 3: Here's what a strap cutter looks like; it's just a wooden handle, and adjustable fence, and a razor blade that pinches the hide between two wooden jaws...



Image 4: Here's the strap cutter in action. After the fence is set, it's just a matter of slowly pulling the gauge toward me -- keeping the body of the strap cutter aligned as I pull. This is a tool that leather workers have used since Medieval days...



Images 5, 6: Shows the 28mm strap stock being checked for "weight" (thickness) and width at the bench...




Images 7, 8: Show the strap being treated with Neatsfoot oil to remove bloom and "condition" the strap: Both grain side (the "show side") and flesh side are saturated with oil and rubbed out to remove excess. The final image is the strap "resting" on the bench, which allows oil to be absorbed before final buffing.




The strap stock will be ready to turn into Laz' SCB1 strap, starting this afternoon! :thumbup1:
 

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Very impressive. (forgive my ignorance, I'm still a 'relative' newcomer here)... but you DO, do this professionally - or semi-professionally, don't you? At least (to me) it seems that way. :) Why don't you have a website 'hawking' these creations? (If you already do... as I said, pardon my ignorance). If you don't... you should! ...but I don't mean to pry.

Just curious about the neatsfoot oil... from my days long ago when I used to ride (owned a nice saddle, but not the horse), and I've used some neatsfoot oil in my time, for that saddle and other fine leather... so unless I'm confused or mistaken; Why use the 'Prime' and not the 'Pure' variety of it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
About "Skiving" (beveling strap end to form springbar pocket)

So next on the agenda is trimming the three sections of the strap to width (24mm parallel sided) for Laz' black strap.

Image 9: Shows (left to right) the trimmed-to-width -- and rough-length -- parts of the strap; The long part of the strap, the short part and the "keeper".



Image 10: Shows the specialized "skiving tool," which houses a replaceable razor blade. Using this tool, the strap-maker thins the end of the strap ("skives it") in order to fold it back on itself, thus forming a pocket for the springbar. This is a very exacting and tricky procedure (which I 'eff-up,' regularly) :001_unsure:



Image 11: Shows the end of the strap, held sideways, so that you can see what "skiving" as done to the end of the strap: It now tapers about 1 1/2" from full strap thickness to almost nothing.



Image 12/13: These two images show the skived end of the strap being glued with contact cement. After the cement is nearly dry, the strap end will be doubled back on itself forming a small leather tube that will house the springbar. If you look closely at Image 13, you can see I've left a small unglued strip where the springbar will sit...




Image 14: This last image shows the strap folded over on itself, with the springbar inside its new home. The spring clamp helps the leather to "set" around the springbar and form a tight tube.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Very impressive. (forgive my ignorance, I'm still a 'relative' newcomer here)... but you DO, do this professionally - or semi-professionally, don't you? At least (to me) it seems that way. :) Why don't you have a website 'hawking' these creations? (If you already do... as I said, pardon my ignorance). If you don't... you should! ...but I don't mean to pry.

Just curious about the neatsfoot oil... from my days long ago when I used to ride (owned a nice saddle, but not the horse), and I've used some neatsfoot oil in my time, for that saddle and other fine leather... so unless I'm confused or mistaken; Why use the 'Prime' and not the 'Pure' variety of it?
Hey, Rob, I'm an advanced amateur, as far as I know. The "advanced" assessment is my own, and not "peer reviewed." :wink:

I use prime neatsfoot oil because it contains a small amount of mineral oil and other petroleum based preservatives, which are less likely to have problems with mold, etc., than pure -- all animal based -- neatsfoot oil.

I am trying to learn strap-making ("baby steps") but have a ways to go. I have a few people advising me from afar (like Jeanna -- who's company shall remain nameless) and other leatherworkers who've been where I am, today, often confused but always determined. I can see progress, from strap to strap, and that's a lot of fun.

I'd like to supplement my income, some day, after I retire. Right now, it's a hobby and I have been giving away straps to those who become WTF "patrons." Since John is going to make patronage mandatory, now (long overdue), I'm still going to make the occasional strap and give it away to Lum-Tec friends who support the patron program at the "Gold" level or higher.

I started this thread so y'all could see the steps necessary to make a leather strap from scratch. I'm hoping that anybody who knows more than me will chip in and suggest shortcuts or improvements to my current system. Thanks, Rob. :wink:
 

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Hey, Rob, I'm an advanced amateur, as far as I know. The "advanced" assessment is my own, and not "peer reviewed." :wink:

I use prime neatsfoot oil because it contains a small amount of mineral oil and other petroleum based preservatives, which are less likely to have problems with mold, etc., than pure -- all animal based -- neatsfoot oil.

I am trying to learn strap-making ("baby steps") but have a ways to go. I have a few people advising me from afar (like Jeanna -- who's company shall remain nameless) and other leatherworkers who've been where I am, today, often confused but always determined. I can see progress, from strap to strap, and that's a lot of fun.

I'd like to supplement my income, some day, after I retire. Right now, it's a hobby and I have been giving away straps to those who become WTF "patrons." Since John is going to make patronage mandatory, now (long overdue), I'm still going to make the occasional strap and give it away to Lum-Tec friends who support the patron program at the "Gold" level or higher.

I started this thread so y'all could see the steps necessary to make a leather strap from scratch. I'm hoping that anybody who knows more than me will chip in and suggest shortcuts or improvements to my current system. Thanks, Rob. :wink:
Aha! semi-pro it is. :cool1: Although, from many forums (and stories) I've read... I think you have it backwards regarding the pure vs prime. The synthetic byproducts in the prime are more likely to have a deleterious effect on the leathers, causing them to dry-out sooner if the product isn't reapplied; The Pure won't develop mold, it acts to arrest mold & bacteria... it inhibits the moisture which causes mold. Then again... if it's just cleaning you're after; Why not switch to one of the Lexol products, and leave the aftermarket 'conditioning' to the customer? If you want to pre-oil, I'd use the Pure.

Just my $.02 ...and since I'm no pro - semi or otherwise, take it for what it's worth. :) (but, sincerely rendered never-the-less)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Aha! semi-pro it is. :cool1: Although, from many forums (and stories) I've read... I think you have it backwards regarding the pure vs prime. The synthetic byproducts in the prime are more likely to have a deleterious effect on the leathers, causing them to dry-out sooner if the product isn't reapplied; The Pure won't develop mold, it acts to arrest mold & bacteria... it inhibits the moisture which causes mold. Then again... if it's just cleaning you're after; Why not switch to one of the Lexol products, and leave the aftermarket 'conditioning' to the customer? If you want to pre-oil, I'd use the Pure.

Just my $.02 ...and since I'm no pro - semi or otherwise, take it for what it's worth. :) (but, sincerely rendered never-the-less)
Okay! The neatsfoot oil is gone. Acetone and lacquer thinner did the trick.

I think I'm going to apply Tandy's professional stain. It's a new line of water-based pigments that include special waxes, binders and stuff. Then a water-based mat finish. The neatsfoot is long gone, and I'm sure you're right that it's better to let the customer apply conditioning oils. The thing about leather straps -- "veg-tanned," anyway, is that they tend to be stiff feeling. I like that feeling, but I'm sure others would prefer the much softer feeling of chrome-tanned leather. I was hoping that working oil into the strap would help to soften it some. My straps are THICK! :thumbup1:
 

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Okay! The neatsfoot oil is gone. Acetone and lacquer thinner did the trick...
Now I know you're just playin' me. Lol.

I think I'm going to apply Tandy's professional stain. It's a new line of water-based pigments that include special waxes, binders and stuff. Then a water-based mat finish. The neatsfoot is long gone, and I'm sure you're right that it's better to let the customer apply conditioning oils. The thing about leather straps -- "veg-tanned," anyway, is that they tend to be stiff feeling. I like that feeling, but I'm sure others would prefer the much softer feeling of chrome-tanned leather. I was hoping that working oil into the strap would help to soften it some. My straps are THICK! :thumbup1:
For cleaning mold Lexol really is a fine product, and it does condition. It's oil-like, without being oily. I know Tandy is Big Leather... just don't know their products. :) ...Have you ever looked into Fiebing's Products. They are good... Shop for Leather Care Products :: Shop for Shoe Polish :: Fiebing's Horse & Leather Care Products
 

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So next on the agenda is trimming the three sections of the strap to width (24mm parallel sided) for Laz' black strap.

Image 9: Shows (left to right) the trimmed-to-width -- and rough-length -- parts of the strap; The long part of the strap, the short part and the "keeper".



Image 10: Shows the specialized "skiving tool," which houses a replaceable razor blade. Using this tool, the strap-maker thins the end of the strap ("skives it") in order to fold it back on itself, thus forming a pocket for the springbar. This is a very exacting and tricky procedure (which I 'eff-up,' regularly) :001_unsure:



Image 11: Shows the end of the strap, held sideways, so that you can see what "skiving" as done to the end of the strap: It now tapers about 1 1/2" from full strap thickness to almost nothing.



Image 12/13: These two images show the skived end of the strap being glued with contact cement. After the cement is nearly dry, the strap end will be doubled back on itself forming a small leather tube that will house the springbar. If you look closely at Image 13, you can see I've left a small unglued strip where the springbar will sit...




Image 14: This last image shows the strap folded over on itself, with the springbar inside its new home. The spring clamp helps the leather to "set" around the springbar and form a tight tube.

Lookin' good, Ladd! You've got me excited. The Spotted One asked me, "Why you? Doesn't he know you're a turd?" I'd beat her, but she's armed - SP-101.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finished Laz Strap

Okay, so here's the strap, today, with the stitching finished. It needs to have the holes punched on the long strap, and the notch in the buckle end cut in, but it's mostly finished.

MISTAKES MADE (why my straps are free!)

1) Skived the WRONG side of the buckle section of the strap! D'OH! This means that Laz will have the Kangaroo side of the strap facing out on the buckle section and facing in toward his wrist on the long section. The "good news" is that the quality of the cowhide is so high, you really can't tell the difference (you can, now, 'cause I fessed up...). I wasn't paying attention, 'cause there was a Donna Summers disco tune playing on the radio, and I was getting my groove on.

2) The long section of the strap is a little bit long, at 5". It could've been 4.5", but I like my long sections a little long so they show more of the tip past the keeper. The short section is a quarter inch longer than normal, too. The "bottom line" is that this strap is someplace in the middle of "regular" and "long." :blush:

All in all, it's a really beautiful strap, and it should look amazing with Laz' SCB1

I didn't have a PVD buckle, and I'm tempted to either get Laz to order one and send it to me so I can fit it to the strap, or just sort of guess at the fit. I'd also like to have the buckle, first, before I punch the holes in the long end, so I can ensure that they're not too large for the buckle tang (or whatever you call that little metal thingy that fits in the holes.)






 

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Let me be among the first to compliment you... Nice job. Looks really good. Surely Laz is going to dig it too. Maybe one day, circumstances permitting... I'd even consider paying for one of your 'mistakes' :) that is... as long as you promised (in advance) not to screw-up too badly. :)
 

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Okay, so here's the strap, today, with the stitching finished. It needs to have the holes punched on the long strap, and the notch in the buckle end cut in, but it's mostly finished.

MISTAKES MADE (why my straps are free!)

1) Skived the WRONG side of the buckle section of the strap! D'OH! This means that Laz will have the Kangaroo side of the strap facing out on the buckle section and facing in toward his wrist on the long section. The "good news" is that the quality of the cowhide is so high, you really can't tell the difference (you can, now, 'cause I fessed up...). I wasn't paying attention, 'cause there was a Donna Summers disco tune playing on the radio, and I was getting my groove on.

2) The long section of the strap is a little bit long, at 5". It could've been 4.5", but I like my long sections a little long so they show more of the tip past the keeper. The short section is a quarter inch longer than normal, too. The "bottom line" is that this strap is someplace in the middle of "regular" and "long." :blush:

All in all, it's a really beautiful strap, and it should look amazing with Laz' SCB1

I didn't have a PVD buckle, and I'm tempted to either get Laz to order one and send it to me so I can fit it to the strap, or just sort of guess at the fit. I'd also like to have the buckle, first, before I punch the holes in the long end, so I can ensure that they're not too large for the buckle tang (or whatever you call that little metal thingy that fits in the holes.)







Geez Ladd!! It looks great!

Hold everything. I will mail you a buckle as soon as I get one. I can't remember, is the buckle end 22mm or 24?

It is a beauty. I know all the white stitching is going to go well with the indices on my SC B1. It can't miss.

Let me know on the buckle size. Panatime has the exact 22 & 24mm buckles I want. They are pretty quick on the draw - I can get one inside a week.

Can't tell you how much I appreciate you making this strap for me. I feel I should pay you something (and believe me folks, I have tried - we communicate via private email - he won't take a nickel or even the promise of one) so, I humbly accept your generous gift and will wear it proudly. When you're famous I'll be able to say I knew you when. And I'll have an original with evidence of a "learning curve". I'm happy it isn't "perfect". That makes it perfect for me.

Thanks Ladd, you're a gentleman and a craftsman. You get stuff done.

And the size.. My wrist are also larger than regular. I fall in that shadow area where regular is just a bit small and long is a bit too much. The powers to be were at work here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Geez Ladd!! It looks great!

Hold everything. I will mail you a buckle as soon as I get one. I can't remember, is the buckle end 22mm or 24?
Hey, pal,

I need the Pantatime pre-v 24mm PVD buckle, I guess. There's no taper to this strap at all. Rob is a great guy. I can't wait to get the buckle on this, because I think it's really going to be beautiful. I'll wait to punch the strap until I have the buckle in hand. Thanks for the kind words, Laz. :wink:
 

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Amazing to see how you do this. Thank you for sharing this with us. I think from the look of your completed creations, you are well on your way to being a real professional strap maker. Beautiful work! I have the same watch (SCB1) and it looks amazing with your strap.
 

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Hey, pal,

I need the Pantatime pre-v 24mm PVD buckle, I guess. There's no taper to this strap at all. Rob is a great guy. I can't wait to get the buckle on this, because I think it's really going to be beautiful. I'll wait to punch the strap until I have the buckle in hand. Thanks for the kind words, Laz. :wink:
Ladd,

Just a second ago ordered the Pre V PVD 24mm screw in buckle from Panatime. It was on sale for $15. Should have it by Wednesday, then I'll immediately get it and a mailer out to you.

Can hardly wait. Yours is my first custom strap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Amazing to see how you do this. Thank you for sharing this with us. I think from the look of your completed creations, you are well on your way to being a real professional strap maker. Beautiful work! I have the same watch (SCB1) and it looks amazing with your strap.
Thanks, man. It's like Laz said, "There's a learning curve," but this is a lot of fun, and it's an inexpensive pastime. It's not like you're spending thousands of dollars setting up, for instance, a woodworking shop. Leatherworking tools are cheap. The hobby doesn't take a lot of room. It doesn't require any machinery, so you can work late, and you're not going to upset your neighbors. All you really need is a card table, a box cutter, a ruler, needles, a few punches, a cutting mat, and some thread and glue. Oh, and leather. Leather is the most expensive part, but a single hide goes a long way, when you're making watch straps. There are auctions on Ebay, which is where I got my tools. Like many strap makers, I figured I could buy all the tools and -- with what people are charging for custom straps -- break even, if I just made myself a dozen straps. You can get going for a couple hundred dollars, and be a fully outfitted leatherworking shop for, say, $1,000.00

We all learn from our screw-ups, but when I screw up a watch strap, I'm not out a lot of time and money. If I screw up a woodworking project, I'm typically out A LOT of time and money (not that this has ever happened to me, just rumors I hear...). The other cool thing is that you're working with an endlessly "renewable" material; as long as humans eat meat, there will be no shortage of hides. :thumbup1:

I always second guess the process and wonder if a strap would've looked cooler done another way, with a different leather stain, different stitch, etc. The endless possibilities keep you coming back.

Take Laz's black SCB1 strap, for instance. The inner row of stitches could've been done in red to accent the red on the watch's dial:



There's always another way to "skin the cat," and that's what keeps you coming back. :thumbup1:
 

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Roo Double?



Sorry - couldn't resist.. :biggrin:
 
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