Handmade Sandals

Sandals in progress... If you have ever taken a class with me you might know that all the intimidating sewing isn't as bad as it looks.  The sole is three layers thick but the use of a good, sharp awl makes the double needle sewing go quickly.  A lot more work goes into these than … Continue reading Handmade Sandals

Jacob’s Beautiful Leather Backpack

One of the better things about modern communication is the ability to meet and talk to people from nearly all parts of the globe. I have been in communication with Jacob from Botswana for years now and he has shared some photos of the beautiful backpack he made based on my earlier design. That one … Continue reading Jacob’s Beautiful Leather Backpack

Hunter’s Pouch

Kentucky Hunter's Pouch - Few words are needed to show this project.  It is a Kentucky Hunter style pouch of a style popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in America.  Its antecedents come from Britain and mainland Europe but changed with the times as North America was colonized. In the days before the common … Continue reading Hunter’s Pouch

Sandals

This post came from looking through a few class photos from Rabbitstick several years ago based on an inquiry. This is one of the years I taught my favorite sandal design, an ancient one though still cleverly marketed as a modern style. I call them saint sandals as they look like something you would see … Continue reading Sandals

Traveler’s Wallet

Once again, I am producing some large, traveler's wallets.  While some are waiting their finishing touches, here's the first of six.  They are all of the same general size and design but each has some variation in shape and closure type. I think my dying is improving.  Having read more on the subject, I've been … Continue reading Traveler’s Wallet

Work from the Leather Shop

Long, cold nights in the Midwest.  Limited mobility due to injury.  A need to create new things A desire to fund my trips later this year... This is a recipe for high productivity in the workshop. Fortunately, I have a fairly large stockpile of leather and supplies to see me through my projects as I … Continue reading Work from the Leather Shop

Action Photos

Just a quick follow-up from yesterday's post... The sporran is complete and ready to go so, of course, I had to model it to show the size and wearability. Here is the Maker in his workshop sporting the new bag.  I didn't bother to "kilt up" but that is the belt I frequently wear when … Continue reading Action Photos

Sporran in Progress

I have been wanting to make a few sporrans based on the classic 18th century style.  This type, often referred to as a Rob Roy style, is a fairly simple, single pocket design that can have a number of variations.  The one I'm making here is from 6 oz full-grain hide and should outlive it's … Continue reading Sporran in Progress

Bike Trekker – Allen Hastings Fry

Despite how much I like this photo, I have held off posting this image here because I couldn't find any attribution or further information about this gentleman and his fine bicycle.  I came across it several years ago and stuck it in my image files until I could find out more; alas, I have not. … Continue reading Bike Trekker – Allen Hastings Fry

U.S. Army Riding Gloves Pattern – free

In my internet sleuthing I have gathered literally thousands of images, plans, and patterns of things I would like to make or have for reference.  Government documents, like the scans below, are invaluable resources for the maker when they are made public.  Who would know how to better and more efficiently make a pair of … Continue reading U.S. Army Riding Gloves Pattern – free

The Hardest Part of Learning to Sharpen

Wise words. Learning to really properly sharpen an edge tool by hand is an epiphany and makes wood and leatherworking a real joy.

The Literary Workshop Blog

The other day, I was teaching a friend to sharpen his plane iron, and it got me thinking about sharpening.  Of all the skills I have learned while working wood, sharpening has been the most life-changing. It started with chisels and plane irons, but then I began sharpening my kitchen knives and pocketknives.  I had no idea that steel could get so sharp!  It used to be that dull tools were merely inconvenient, but now I find a dull knife a heartbreaking disappointment.

I say this because I want to share a recent article on sharpening by Chris Schwarz, former editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine and current head of Lost Art Press.  In it, Schwarz reflects (well, more like pontificates) on how few woodworkers actually know how to sharpen an edge tool.  Even the some of the professionals who write for the big-name magazines often lack basic sharpening skills.  He…

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Making a Stitching Pony; Video Tutorial

Stitching Pony, Leather Worker's Clamp, or Saddler's Clam... Whatever you call it, it is a handy device to own if you sew any leather.  These are simple devices that just about anyone can make with little time or money invested.  Although there are many varieties and models, the one shown in this tutorial by Harry … Continue reading Making a Stitching Pony; Video Tutorial

Saddle Stitching

When teaching a leather craft or making an item for someone, I am often asked about the machine used to sew such thick leather or through so many layers in tight areas.  People are often astounded when I explain that this is all hand sewn, with an awl and two needles. I learned saddle stitching … Continue reading Saddle Stitching

Art and Craft Fair

I would not have ever thought myself a craft fair kind of guy yet here we are... Last year, our local community center hosted an arts and craft fair as a way to bring local artisans together and raise money for public programs (art classes, GED education, computer skills, tax assistance, etc.).  Being new to … Continue reading Art and Craft Fair

Possibles Bag

Here is an update on the most recent possibles bag I have been working on: Sorry the photos aren't so great but here is the description: Made from 7 oz (~3 mm) Hermann-Oak full-grain harness leather top dyed and antiqued Fiebings medium brown with a single patch pocket inside. It still needs a little edge … Continue reading Possibles Bag

A Leather Purse and Wallet

Here is a shop update on a couple of the many leatherworking projects undertaken lately.   I decided to use up all the leather I have been storing and put it to good use.  I have about 100 projects I'd like to make for myself but the Yule season is coming, gifts are expected in many … Continue reading A Leather Purse and Wallet

Some New Leatherwork

There are some new projects coming off the bench.Here's a new minimalist traveler's wallet.  I'm still working through the design and construction process but like it so far. Simple three-pocket design; a vertical a horizontal card pocket  as well as a large one for bills. A bucket purse made from an oil-tanned leather.  Welted and … Continue reading Some New Leatherwork

Making a Stitching Pony

I have needed a stitching pony for a long time now... Like so many other undone projects, this one has been stirring around in my head for several years.  Since my efforts have been so focused on sewing leather lately, the time had come for a new and useful tool in the shop.  I've looked … Continue reading Making a Stitching Pony

More Wallets

Maybe this is a little mundane but I've been using the cold and snowy weather as an excuse to do some cutting and sewing of leather.  I completed a passport wallet and finished up another minimalist wallet design.  I got the pattern for the larger travel wallet from Tony, the owner/designer at DieselpunkRo.  He sells … Continue reading More Wallets

Making a Minimalist Wallet

I try to live by the creed of learning and making something good every day. As we have been pondering the holiday season it seemed a good time to get a jump on some leatherworking projects I've had in mind the past few months.  This morning, before getting to work on other chores, I decided … Continue reading Making a Minimalist Wallet

Tanning Leather: Not a Lost Art

Many years ago, in Morocco, I was able to tour an ancient tannery and see some of the process of creating beautiful leather.  I use leather for many projects and although I do some brain tanning myself, I purchase all of my truly "tanned" leathers from others. One very important lesson about tanning I learned … Continue reading Tanning Leather: Not a Lost Art

Hide Tanning 1769

Here are some images from hide tanning workshops from Diderot's Encyclopedia, 1769 that I found interesting as a leather worker and occasional hide tanner. If you have done any hide tanning you'll recognize the tools of the trade.  Not much changes for the small-time home tanner. I suspect this is some hot and smelly work … Continue reading Hide Tanning 1769

Making the Possibles Bag

Several years ago, I made a shoulder bag that I still often carry today.  It is the perfect size for a small field bag or hunting pouch.  It was a lot fun looking at various designs, mostly from the 18th century to try and come up with something that would fit my needs. When I … Continue reading Making the Possibles Bag

Medieval Turnshoes

I'm re-sharing an older post of some experimental turnshoes I made quite a few years ago.  These were based on some Scandinavian examples from the archaeological record.  They came out pretty good for a first try.  My only modification would be to tighten the width through the arch and lengthen the toe area slightly.  I … Continue reading Medieval Turnshoes

Leatherworking Images from the Middle Ages

Some things never really change... While looking through my image archive I came upon some leather working illustrations dated to the early 15th century.  All but one of the images below is from the extremely informative Mendel manuscript dated 1425 created at Nuremberg, in what is now Germany. Creating leather from animal hides has been … Continue reading Leatherworking Images from the Middle Ages

Making a Pack Basket

From one of my new favorite blogs Running With Sheep.  Johan and Sanne are a couple of remarkable outdoors - bushcraft - survival enthusiasts with more than a touch of philosophy thrown in. Their most recent project shows how to convert a run-of-the-mill thrift store find into a functional pack basket.  From what I can … Continue reading Making a Pack Basket

Ghillies (simple shoes) again

Here's a simple shoe design that was made by our ancestors before there were shoe shops or Zappos.  Much of the Europe population, both male and female wore a variation of this for many millenia, right up into the early 20th century.  They are commonly associated with their Celtic cousins in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland … Continue reading Ghillies (simple shoes) again

The Vikings Used Comfortable Shoes

Osberg Ship Viking Shoe

 One of the original boots found in the Oseberg Burial Mound dating back to 834 AD. (Photo: skinnblogg.blogspot.no)

A number of complete Viking Age shoes found in Scandinavia and England have the same characteristics. They are flexible, soft and mostly made of cattle hide, but also other kinds of leather was used.

There are complete shoes found in the Oseberg ship burial mound in Norway, Hedeby trading center in Denmark, and Coppergate (York, Viking Age Jorvik, Editor’s note) in England.

All three of these discoveries show a similar construction and form typical for the Middle Ages.

The shoes found in the Oseberg ship consists of two main parts, soles and uppers, and are so-called “turn shoes”.

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Reconstructed Oseberg Viking Shoes

Reconstructed boots found in the Oseberg burial mound, by Bjørn Henrik Johansen. (Photo: Bjørn Henrik Johansen/ skinnblogg.blogspot.no) 

The shoemaker stitched the shoe together inside out, and then turned right side…

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