So I’m a big Arrested Development fan, and I’ve been looking for small projects I can do to practice my leather working skills and test some ideas on the Glowforge. Decided to make this thing the other day and was pretty pleased with how it turned out. Anyone else doing much leather work on the 'Forge yet? I’d love to discuss with you all.
Analrapist. Perhaps the best gag ever on TV.
nice stitch work. Mine never comes out so neat…
Nice job! Love that is looks like blue jeans. ha
The stitching looks great. Did you glue the pieces together or just stitch?
Thanks! Yeah, the “I blue myself,” and jean shorts theme was just too strong to dye it any other color. Just stitched it together. I’ve got a stitching pony from Tandy leather, and some great needles and thread I picked up from Rocky Mountain Leather supply, and everything is working well for me. If you want to work on leather projects, I can’t recommend tiger thread highly enough. It’s so much easier to use than the other stuff I’ve tried.
I think some of it is also the way I cut my stitch holes. I bought the slide-out luggage tag design from the Glowforge catalog, and kind of copied their stitch concept over to this thing. That was really helpful!
That’s pretty funny…I must have missed that episode, cause I had to look it up.
Looks like you’re off to a nu start! Well done.
Love the blue … stitching is very nice!
Oh Tobias, you blowhard!
What about tiger thread is special? Is that a brand name? I’m not familiar. I just have some waxed nylon (I think) that seems to work well. I saw how they were kind of diagonal…the holes. That is a nice look.
It’s a braided, waxed polyester thread. I tried a twisted poly thread (unwaxed, so I had to wax it myself) and some waxed linen thread, and both were significantly tougher to thread through my needles and to sew with. I kept breaking the linen thread when I was pulling it tight, but the tiger thread was really strong and didn’t break at all on any of my projects. I think the actual name brand is “Ritza 25” but it has a tiger on the label and I see most people referring to it as “tiger thread” on the guides and videos I’ve seen. It sounds like it used to be hard to find, but I just did a search for “tiger thread” and found Rocky Mountain Leather Supply. They have it and they do free shipping the US, so I jumped right on it. I just got black, but I’m definitely going to pick up at least a few more colors, too.
This guy’s site and videos were extremely helpful, and if you don’t mind a whole heck of a lot of depth and detail, he’s absolutely great: http://www.ianatkinson.net/leather/leatherguide.htm
I’ve only done one leather project so far (non-laser), and Ian Atkinson was a source I listed as being helpful in the video I made about the project over on my YouTube channel. You’re right…he’s super in depth and there is really a lot of information there! There were a couple of videos on the Simplecove YouTube channel about leatherworking that I found valuable also. He actually mentioned tiger thread. When I looked it up, it just looked quite expensive.
I’m not sure of the thread brand that I got, but it looks braided and it is already waxed (I thought I remembered it being nylon, but it might be linen). I just have black thread too, but would like an off white color as well. I think those both go really well with a lot of projects.
It is really great to see the results you got from using the Glowforge to do the holes and how well they aligned, even without glue.
Here’s a hint about edge finishing that I found while researching: use some glycerin saddle soap. Just wet the edge, and then rub the bar of saddle soap on it. Then, use a burnishing tool to slick it down. Gives it a nice look and feel.
Leather working was one of the main things I wanted to do with the Glowforge, so I’m really happy it’s been working as well as it has for me. The Tiger thread isn’t cheap, but when you buy the whole roll it really isn’t too bad. Like $30+/- for 500m, I think? I’ve been using maybe 1-2m per small project I’ve done so far, so that spool will probably last me years.
Thanks! The real key to the stitching holes was to try to make them as similar as possible to the holes you get with the diamond chisel. At first, I was trying to make actual diamond shaped holes all in a row, but it was removing too much material and they didn’t close up after sewing like the punched ones do. Just making a series of small, diagonal cuts was pretty much perfect, and it goes so quickly! The trick is to make sure that you flip the design over so the stitches align properly when you put the pieces back to back. The luggage tag design I got from the catalog actually has the pieces simply duplicated, so when you put them together to sew, the diagonal slits form an X and you don’t get the right look to the stitches. I opened a ticket about that, so hopefully they release an updated version with the right stitches soon.
Thanks for the tip about edge finishing! I’ve been using the Tandy Eco-Flo gum tragacanth on mine and they’re looking pretty good, but they can definitely be better. I think I need to turn a better slicker on my lathe, and that should help. I’ve been using a piece of linen fabric to generate the friction and it just isn’t as good as the wood, I don’t think. I’ll have to try the saddle soap as an edge treatment, too. The tragacanth gives it a really smooth, glossy finish if you do it right, but it’s also kind of smelly and difficult to apply cleanly.
Oh, good catch on the design in the catalog.
I thought about going with the gum tragacanth, but many old pros mentioned other things being used (I searched a lot on leatherworking.net). One thing you might try before going to the effort of turning another burnisher on the lathe is canvas or denim. Many people on that forum liked using canvas to create the friction. I don’t know if they just had some wrapped on a burnishing tool or just had it held in hand or what?
I found the saddle soap bar on amazon for about $8…not too bad. It’s going to last a long time.
I think the thread I bought was under $5 for a whole roll! I can’t remember how much thread was on the roll, but it is a lot.
That is a really interesting point about making smaller holes so that the leather kind of closes up around the stitches. That’s important for the look, it seems. (or should I say, seams? ha)
When you made the holes thinner, did you have any trouble getting the needles through?
I will try some canvas with my next one for sure. I think some of the issue is that the burned leather edge behaves a little differently than a normal cut leather edge, so it’s going to take some experimentation to figure it out. I’ve thought about taking some sandpaper to my edges to get rid of the burn first, and then finishing, but at a certain point I’m putting so much extra time into it that I’m no longer saving myself much by using the laser, you know? I’ll keep experimenting and if I can’t get an edge I’m happy with, I might have to sand and then finish eventually, but if I can avoid the extra steps that would be nice.
Yeah, the Tiger thread isn’t cheap compared to other thread options, that’s for sure! If you can remember where you got yours, I’d love to get a spool and do a comparison. If I can get good results for less money I’m always up for that.
The needles I’m using are 002 John James saddlers needles with 0.8mm thread and going through the cut slits isn’t too tough. You definitely need to have strong fingers (or use pliers) to get some of them through, but it really wasn’t too bad. I sewed the card holder up while I was on a conference call and didn’t get any comments about ungentlemanly grunting or anything.
Though I do find that hitting the edge with the scrubby side of a sponge helps to remove a bit of that char and odor.
Looks like one user has already tried this with leather, with good results:
Ooh, love this idea! I can get a 25-pound bag of salt from Costco for like $5, and that ought to clean an awful lot of leather. I’ll share my results here once I’ve tried it. Thanks!
ha ha ha! Great multitasking!
I went back and found the thread I ordered: http://amzn.to/2jbmm4T
The spool is not as large as what you ordered (a little more than half), but the price is significantly cheaper. And this thread is slightly thicker (1mm) than what you had.
Yeah, I totally agree. And I didn’t even think about the burnt ends finishing differently…good point. If you do sandpaper, only sand in one direction. I didn’t heed people’s recommendation about this, and mine stayed kind of fuzzy in parts.
Good to know!
I was actually just putting the brown color of this thread into my cart when you wrote this. It’s coming from overseas so it won’t arrive until next month, but I’m happy to wait. I was hoping to get some thread in 1mm as well to see how I like it compared to the 0.8mm stuff.
With a salt bucket and some new edge-slicking options, I think my next project is going to look even better! Thanks everyone for your help.
Is this veg tanned leather?