For those that follow me on my other social media, I mentioned I’d write an article describing how I am burnishing the edges of my leather projects, as it is relatively simple and doesn’t require much “elbow grease”! So let’s get after it and I hope this may make it easier for anyone that is trying.
I’ve been making some leather sheaths for knives and some other items for a few months now, and have a basic background with working leather as a young kid, but it was focused more towards putting together pre-created pieces together or carving basic enhancements. My current projects are getting better in all aspects, as I’m fine tuning little by little. The edges on all of my recent items were left “raw”, as in the same surface texture as the cutting device transferred. I’ve looked at a number of professional leather pieces and almost all have edges that are what I’d best describe as “finished”.
I don’t recall ever see anyone finish the edges like that when I was young, at least not on the things we were making, but I really do appreciate this look. With that in mind, I decided to try a number of things in the attempt to create a similar look on my edges. I started off with some sand paper, and depending on how consistent the flow of the lines were, started at 100-grit or 150-grit, followed by some 220-grit. I read where some were using different types of waxes, during the burnishing stage, and others used oils. I decided to go with a blend, by using Jojoba oil, which is a waxy oil. After applying a coating to the edge, I tried a number of different smooth/hard items, but nothing really seemed to occur.
I decided to apply a light coat of Liberon Black Bison wax to the edges, and left it to dry. This time I tried using my Dremel with one of the felt wheels, to see if I could cause some friction action, and get the look I was after. This still left it a long way from my target look.
Next I put a 12″ length of hard maple onto my Teknatool Nova XP wood lathe, and using a gouge, created a groove a little bit wider than the widest width on my current pieces. The gouge left a very smooth surface in the groove, and I applied some wax all the way around the shaft, so the groove was ready to do the work for me. (or at least I hoped so)
I turned on my lathe and brought the speed up to 1800 rpm, moved the rest out of the way, and then brought the edge of my sheath under the groove. I raised the sheath enough so it was touching the rotating groove, and started working the sheath slowly along so that all of the edge received the results of the spinning groove.
The results were nothing short of surprising! The mix of wax, oil and the friction provided by the spinning piece of maple, provided a nice sealed surface to the edge and raised the overall level of the sheath.
I brought two other recent sheaths out to test to see if this was a fluke, or if I could repeat it at will. I decided to again apply the Jojoba Oil, followed by Black Bison wax, and the maple shaft did the rest. Both of the test sheaths looked equally as nice as did the first sheath.
I will keep this maple shaft for any future leather projects, and mount it on the lathe whenever it is needed, so it won’t take up any real space in the shop in between uses.
I hope you enjoyed this article and it helps you improve your projects. As always, please make sure to let me know if you have any questions or comments.
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A few days ago, I wrote about starting two racks to house some more of my chisels. I’ve been a bit stretched this last week, and unfortunately I didn’t take nearly as many photos of the process as I would have liked. Those of you who also follow my Twitter account, @LeeLairdWW, saw my brief tweet yesterday evening showing the smaller of the two racks I’d planned.
The smaller of the two racks (photo above) is storing three of my chisels that have extra long handles, or are overall longer than standard chisels, two of which are Japanese paring chisels. With the location of each chisel marked with a pencil, I followed that with a deep dimple with an awl. This helps to provide solid registration for the center point of the drill bit, to prevent the bit from potentially “walking” to an unintended position, before entering the wood.
Before drilling, I took measurements on each chisel, of the hosel/socket approximately 1/4″ down from the widest point. This measurement would ensure the chisels would fit into, and then sit down into their respective slots, providing a good home. I also measured the minimum size of each chisel’s shank/neck, to make certain the chisel would fit into the intended slot in the rack. I documented each of these measurements (shown in photo below) directly to each chisel position, so there was less chance I would create the incorrectly sized hole at any of the locations, while at the drill press.
After drilling all of the holes for all planned tools, it was over to the band saw to cut the slots that allows the chisels to enter from the front of the board instead of dropping down into each hole. As you can probably imagine, if you decide to go with a “drop-in” solution, the hole must be large enough for the cutting edge of the chisel to fit through. On smaller chisels, this works fine. On larger sized chisels, the size of the cutting edge can easily eclipse the diameter of the handle, which obviously prevents hanging larger chisels via the drop-in method.
After I made all of the cuts, to open up the slots, it was back to the workbench (on the smaller rack, this left little to do before mounting). I used some 1 1/4″ self-cutting Kreg screws, to mount the small rack, to the previously mounted plywood. This size screw was reasonable for this application, as they didn’t need to pierce drywall before contact wood. These square drive heads provide such a solid connection to the driver, that there are few other types I generally use, especially in a storage solution. I pre-drilled the holes through each end of the smaller rack, large enough so the screw’s threads didn’t bite into the rack itself. As these are self-tapping screws, and they screwed into plywood, I didn’t drill pilot holes. Just before installing, I noticed the end of the screws were only about 1/4″ beyond the rear edge of the rack, which wouldn’t penetrate deep enough to have the intended strength. Back to the bandsaw. I drew a line approximately 1/4″ in from the rear edge of the rack, as that would let the screws reach to full thread-depth in the plywood, and just followed the line. I hand planed the rear edge, to create a smooth, flat surface. When I tested the screw’s projection length again, all looked good. Before attaching the small rack with screws, I wanted to make sure it was level. I removed the head from my large adjustable square, and with it sitting on the top surface of the rack, used it’s bubble to confirm level as I drove the screws home.
The larger rack had quite a bit of the same processes, but since I wanted the chisels to sit farther out from the wall, I used a second board that is 90-degrees to the first. The rear board has a face-side against the drywall, while the board the holds the chisels, is set so it’s edge is against the rear board’s outer face-side. The studs in my shop are on 24″ centers, so I cut the rear board to 28″, providing a 2″ overlap of the stud on each end. I cut the front board to 22″, so it wouldn’t interfere with the screws I’d use to attach the large rack to the studs.
After I drilled all of the chisel holes, and cut the necessary slots, I used my Auriou Model Makers 15-grain rasp (does it seem like I use this rasp on every single project?) to remove soften some edges. I also used a paring chisel to cut chamfers on the edges of the slots, which helped refine the fit on a few, but it is also a nice visual.
I placed the two boards together in their final orientation, and made marks on the rear board, centered on each of the remaining thick sections between the holes/slots. I measure half the thickness of the front board, and marked along the rear board to intersect with each of the centered marks, which will make sure the connecting screws hit their target. I used the awl to again make marks deep enough so the drill bit (and I) could “feel” them. Using my 1/8″ drill bit, I pre-drilled holes at each of the marks on the rear board. With the front board held in my vise, I placed the rear board against it, so they lined up as planned. I re-chucked my 1/8″ drill bit and while holding the two boards aligned, carefully drilled the middle position, and then drove a screw, and lightly snugged it up. I did the same at one end position, and snugged the second screw. Now I drilled the rest of the holes as deep as the bit would reach, without worrying that one of the boards might move. This drilling operation only created a starter hole in the front board, since 1/8″ bits are fairly short, but the alignment is also transferred besides just the location.
After removing the rear board, I drilled each of the starter holes, on the front board, as deep as the bit could reach. With the rear board out of the way, the bit easily reached the depth needed for the intended 2 1/2″ screws. Since this larger rack carried additional weight, these screws seemed prudent, both to hold the two boards together, and to attach the pair to the studs. Before I drove the screws to mate the two boards, I put a bead of polyurethane glue on the front board’s mating edge. I didn’t take a photo of the glue on the board, but put a little bit on a paper plate just before applying to the wood, and then a second squeeze on the plate immediately after the rack was installed (below, second photo). I used a damp paper towel to put some extra moisture along the mating surface of the rear board, and then drove all of the screws until the heads were flush with the rear face.
I used my stud finder to mark the two wall studs and their outlines, and with the rack held up to the wall, I determined and marked the location of the screws for attaching. I again pre-drilled the holes through both ends of the rack, for the screws that would attach to the studs, and chose to use three on each side for this larger piece. After I drove the first screw lightly into one stud, I verified level using the square’s bubble, before sinking a screw at the other end of the rack (below, top photo). After a quick look to make certain the tools fit, I drove the other four screws into their respective holes (below, bottom photo), and it was time to load the chisels.
Even though I hadn’t actually planned to have any other tools on the larger rack, I noticed there was plenty of room to put both my winding sticks, and my micrometer case, on top of the rack behind the chisel handles. I love to realize extra efficiencies when making a project.
It is great to have this many of my chisels so close to the bench, yet each with it’s own home. The time spent adding these racks was certainly well worth it, and will pay back in time saved in the future.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
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