Leather Holster WalletThis early Spring brings yet another new design to the shop. The Leather Holster Wallet. I dreamed it up because every cowboy or cowgirl out there should carry a holster, it’s standard issue with the lifestyle. However nowadays you are probably better off with a modern twist on things, as the ol’ 6 shooter might scare yer neighbors.leather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0041

 

Built to hold an included money and card pouch that fits snugly at the top of the holster, and saves enough room to carry an iPhone 6 or similar slim items. It has a minimal belt loop built into the back that will fit any 1.25 inch wide belt.Leather iPhone Holster

I personally do not carry a smartphone on me, I did once – and it cramped my style. No matter – this holster will fit my old-school cellular just fine.

Brown Leather Holster Walletleather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0022leather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0005The edges are secured up with solid brass, nickel plated rivets. That’s one durable way to do it. The leather is hand-cut, hand- stamped, branded, dyed, oiled, waxed and assembled all in my workshop. It will definitely catch some eyes out there by high-noon.leather-phone-holster-leather-wallet-holster-052_0172Now available in the Mr. Lentz Shop.

It’s an early Spring out here in the Desert Southwest and with it comes a few early births. I am happy to report on three of them already, one for this blog entry and the two others later on when I get an extra second. No, fortunately I ain’t talkin’ about babies, and unfortunately I ain’t talkin’ about calves. Today I am talkin’ about the the mini Leather Notebook Cover and pen:

Built from one durable, Full-Grain, Vegetable-Tanned piece of high grade leather and cut down to the absolute minimum…down to the millimeter. The leather you see in the photo above is hand-dyed, hand-oiled, hand-waxed, hand-riveted, and hand-hammered into shape the old fashioned way. This is the way leatherwork should be done. You can visibly see the quality in each and every piece this way.

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The notebook itself is a mere 2.5 inches x 4 inches, the perfect size to fit in this pocket-sized creation. The leather grips onto the durable steel pen and wraps it all up in a protective manner.

leather-notebook-case-with-pen-minimal-slim-022_0006This item was designed out of necessity. I was using just a notebook everyday, but quickly tired of frayed pages, lost pens and just the impracticality of it all. So – I got my neurons workin up in a good ol’ storm and came up with the simplest idea I could think of to house a notebook and pen. It’s practical – cowboy style, I’ll rest ‘er there.

 

working with leather the old fashioned way

I prefer to work with leather the old fashioned way. Starting with a nice large side of Full-Grain, Vegetable Tanned leather – which I then dye by hand. I make several passes with the dye, standing back to take a long look at the resulting color, then applying more as needed. The dye I use, I make myself…just as the earliest leatherworkers used to do. It is made entirely from vegetable matter and is non-toxic…that means I don’t need gloves and I can get my hands dirty – just the way it ought to be. Doing it all from scratch, and doing it all by hand takes longer, it’s quite a bit more work – but the results are worth it and I love every step of the way. Above I am hanging and inspecting a freshly dyed side, soon to be cut into wallets, cases and much more. Gotta love the smell of 24 square feet of leather!

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In the final moments of 2014 I managed to pull together the last tutorial for the year. One I had promised a few emails back and one that I had been wanting to do for quite some time (I purchased the knife back in July after all!) Now that the holiday season has started to wind down, I can finally take a breath or two of the outside air. So crisp and pure, such a memory of several months ago when I last inhaled the fresh outdoors. Well, let’s get down to business shall we…

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This here is the knife. As mentioned, I had bought it several months ago from a man in Northern CA who hand forges his knives from scratch. Then he makes custom handles out of wood or collected antlers. It was a design and an idea I couldn’t pass up on, and I love supporting other makers out there. If you get a chance take a look at his selection of knives at Jay Bear Knives, he’s one talented dude.

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The tools of the trade needed for this job are shown above. From left to right: hand-stitching thread, scissors, a mallet, diamond shaped awl puncher (pro-series with interchangeable heads), cutting wheel, stitching groover, edge beveler (the smallest size you have), your knife…it can be any size, some leather (I am using full-grain vegetable-tanned), a stitching horse.

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Now, I had been thinking about this tutorial for several months – and when it came down to it and I had some free time… I decided to just wing it! It’s really the best (most fun) way to design and make things. Basically I decided to throw the knife down on the leather and start drawing the shape around it. I figured I deal with any problems as they come up…which they always do. So be sure to read ahead before proceeding on your own as there is one big problem coming up fairly quickly!

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0059After sketching out the first side, I flipped the knife over to continue the shape on the other side, keeping in mind that the sheath will be folded in half and sewn up the side. Most of it is symmetrical, but I wanted to also add a belt loop for easy attachment on the waist.

 

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Here you can see the extra length drawn for the belt loop, it should be about 1/2 inch longer than the width of your belt so that there is room for the stitching. Keep in mind that this tutorial will work for a knife of any size, you just have to eyeball things and adjust for your own knife. On mine I wanted the entire blade to be protected as well as about an inch of the handle so that it would sit snugly in the sheath.

leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0072I cut out the larger curves and straight lines with the cutting wheel…leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0068

Then I moved on to my pair of Chinese scissors to cut tighter curves and round corners.

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Here’s the basic shape I got.

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I then folded it in half and took a look at my symmetrical drawing skills. They apparently were a bit off – so I held it down while folded and cut the excess off.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0081leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0083leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0084

 

After looking at my shape for a minute or two and testing it out with the knife holding it on my belt I realized pretty quickly I had made a big mistake. This goes with the territory of doing things on the fly! The shape I had automatically cut out was meant for a left handed person. There was a fifty fifty chance of that I guess, but doesn’t it always seem to work out for the worst?leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0086

 

Knowing that I should probably correct this mistake early on, I decided to take advantage of this setback by choosing a new piece of scrap leather that I liked with extra scarring. Above is a piece I would not normally use on my wallets because it is a bit too marred…but I must admit – I do love this kind of texture and it’s perfect for my sheath.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0090To get the same pattern but in reverse for a right handed cowboy, I flipped the pattern over and traced it out.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0091Once cut, I lightly misted the edges to prepare the leather for cutting the stitching groove and beveling the edge.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0094

Here is the stitching groove in action. Its job is to create a line parallel to the edge to give me reference for punching the stitching holes. It also helps sink the thread to protect it from wear.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0095leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0098After cutting the groove, I bevel the edges to take care of that hard looking edge when you use the cutting wheel.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0102I stamped it with the next number in line and branded with my logo, why not!leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0108

Then I took a break and caugth myself deep in thought about knife sheaths.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0114

 

I skipped photographing a step – my dyeing process. That is another tutorial for another day. It can be quite complex. You don’t actually need to dye vegetable-tanned leather as it will age quite beautifully on its own, creating a deep rich patina over time. In the step above I am applying a light coat of oil. There are many types you can use, as well as pre-fabricated oil/wax mixtures. I make my own all natural mix…the same stuff I send out in a free tin to all of my customers. It’s great stuff and I can work with it, without using gloves!leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0116After the oiling and waxing the sheath pattern is really starting to look like something.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0117leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0120On to the pounding block. I have clamped the sheath together to help me align it when I punch through with the awl.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0122leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0123leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0126I carefully line up the awl in the groove and knock it with the mallet.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0129All the way around the sheath, re-attaching the clamps on the other side to help keep things straight.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0133I then open up the sheath and fold the belt loop part into place.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0136Punching two sets of four holes for a little extra durability.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0137Here is the sheath in the stitching horse. The first step is to stitch up the belt loop before stitching up the sides…or you can guess what kind of trouble you’d be in.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0140I am not going to go into detail here about how to make the stitch, but I do recommend that you check out this other tutorial half way through, as I have some great closeups with explanations on how to hand-stitch. The same applies to this sheath. Here’s the other tutorial: How to make a Leather Walletleather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0143I chose to double-stitch the top part of the belt loop for a bit more strength since it is a stress point.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0145Now you can stitch up the side.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0147Make sure to back-stitch 3 or so holes to help the thread stay in place.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0149leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0151

 

Now that the sheath is ready to test out…I noticed another big problem. The knife slides in nicely. So nicely that it goes straight down into the thread area. This is real bad. Within days that thread will be sliced by the knife.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0153Where there is a problem, there is a solution waiting to be had. I took another scrap piece of leather.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0154And cut it into the shape of the bottom of the sheath.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0156leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0158I then proceeded to wedge it in there to the bottom. A perfect solution? No. But is makes the wallet functional, and time will tell if some other solution needs to be found. If you want to fully avoid this problem, you will need to cut out a thick strip of leather the same shape as the side of the sheath with stitching. Then you will need to stitch that in between the side so that if the knife pulls down to the bottom or side…it will just hit a thick piece of leather and not the stitching.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0161leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0167Another problem arose quickly thereafter…don’t you love the world of hand-made?  The knife felt a bit too loose in the sheath since I had designed it just a tad too big. I needed to tighten it a bit with a few more stitches.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0170Punching the holes with the awl.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0172I stitched that sucker up. Again – this is all on the fly and more about just winging things. This here ain’t a perfect solution either as it is possible for the knife to slowly wear these stitches down each time it is drawn. I decided to take that chance as it isn’t the end of the world if it does happen…since these last two stitches are separate from the structural stitches on the side. If they get cut I cn easily re-stitch later on.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0175While the sheath is still moist I press the edges against the burnisher. It is a drill-press mounted one and does quick work on smoothing and polishing the edge.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0181

Now what is a knife sheath tutorial without some beauty shots?leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0184leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0187leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0190leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0192I must say – I do love that scarring that I chose, it makes a great accent.leather-knife-sheath-tutorial-diy_0198If you loved this tutorial – please let me know by writing a comment in the section below. Feel free to ask questions there as I am likely to respond so all can benefit. Happy New Year to all and thank you again for supporting my work and livelihood!

  • MM - January 1, 2015 - 1:59 pm

    This looks great! I’ve been admiring your blog and find that your tutorials have been a great help considering I am just starting out. Looking forward to reading your tutorial on dying soon as I have been finding different things on forums; from your belt tutorial, you mentioned using EVOO and beeswax after dying the belt. Does beeswax provide enough protection and waterproofing? I have seen people use resolene. I don’t understand what the difference would make between the two.ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - February 14, 2015 - 12:39 pm

      Hi MM, well everything wears down over time, so no matter what you use, it will need to be reapplied as you wear it in. I choose not to use chemicals on my goods for my own health as well as my customers. Beeswax is a great alternative if you use it right, other oils also help make your product water resistant.ReplyCancel

  • Marcus - January 6, 2015 - 10:52 am

    Hi,
    happy new year!
    I’ve been reading your blog and it’s inspired me to get started in leatherworking.
    First I made a felt lined roll-up-bag for my wife, to take her brushes with her when she goes out painting.
    Next was a small wallet for myself. Since my driverslisence is bigger than the newer cards it had to be a bit bigger than the ones you offer. (Not as big as the ones you make for passports).
    And finally (probably not really, there is some more leather left…) a knivesheath for the first knive I made for myself a few years ago. Untill today it had an orange kydex sheath, functional but not really nice to look at.
    My question is, the leather you have used for your sheath looks quite thin, mine was about 2,4 mm. My sheath although wet-formed and stiffer than before still feels a bit wishy-washy.
    Another question is, why didn’t you sew in a welt (not sure if the translator got me right here) to protect the seam from the edge.
    MarcusReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - February 14, 2015 - 12:37 pm

      Hi Marcus – you are correct – the leather used here is quite thin. If you want a long-term durable sheath I would use at least a 6-7 oz leather or higher. The leather I used in the tutorial was a scrap piece and since I was in the mood (and didn’t have any thicker stuff around) I just went for it. On your second question – yes a welt would help a lot actually. The best thing todo is to cut a very narrow strip of leather, a thick piece, and sew it in sandwiched on the edge. I am planning on a follow up tutorial to this one detailing even better techniques.ReplyCancel

  • Marcello Fauci - March 16, 2015 - 9:32 am

    Hi,

    I just received one of your items bought through etsy (a passport wallet)and I just love it, great job.
    I wonder if it could be possible for you to make for me a sheat for my favourite knife, exactly as the one above made for your knife……if yes i could send you all pictures and measurements of the knife.

    Waiting for your comments, I send you my best regards.

    MarcelloReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - March 17, 2015 - 9:20 am

      Hi Marcello – I will probably be making a sheath or two for the shop pretty soon. Keep your eyes peeled in a couple of months and I may have it up for sale.
      Thanks!ReplyCancel

leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0003After a little wranglin’ of stray thoughts, and corrallin’ up a few test runs…a new minimalistic iPhone wallet has been born in the West. It took a bit of sweat and late night fire talk to get this thing off the ground, but I am very pleased with the design. Built from one piece of leather and held together with heavy-duty solid brass rivets, this wallet will hold your iPhone (5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus… all in different sizes) securely in place.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0004With a completely separated phone section, a tight pocket for cash and a very narrow credit card slot, you can have it all while on the go.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0009leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0011leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0012As with all Mr. Lentz goods – this here walelt gets branded with the logo and stamped with a unique consecutive number, making this wallet one of a kind, handmade by a true cowboy of the creative revolution.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0016Pictured here with a can of my own handmade, all-natural leather conditioner meant to keep high quality leather goods in great shape.leather-iphone-wallet-case-phone-wallet-minimal-slim_0084Available in three colors, all Full-grain vegetable tanned leather sourced from the top U.S. tannery. It’s now available in my online shop.

  • Errol Yim - December 27, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    Great products. I recently bought a bus. card holder/credit card/ wallet. Good quality.ReplyCancel

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Last week I took a brief respite in my favorite woods. The Redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest. It was a camping journey, one to calm the mind and find peace before the major holiday season truly erupts in a fury of leather goods. My favorite spot to lay down the sleeping bag – a stretch of beach that roars with breaking waves, and backs right up to a major chunk of old growth forest. Taking this trip also meant coming back home after to a lot of catching up type of work. It was worth every second – and always is. So kick that fear about giving yourself a break, and go out and do it!Redwoods14_0020Redwoods14_0043Redwoods14_0061Interestingly this shot above of elk was taken at night with moonlight only to light up the prairie. It’s about a 12 second exposure.Redwoods14_0065Redwoods14_0071

 

On the first day out into the woods I parked at a lonely trailhead and made my way a few miles deep into an incredibly stunning valley of Redwoods. Then, out of nowhere from around the bend came this adult black bear. Steadily making his way down the path…towards me. Must be nice for him having a pre-cut trail. I stayed long enough to snap a quick few shots before turning back and beating the bear to the parking lot.Redwoods14_0099Redwoods14_0105Redwoods14_0112Redwoods14_0122Redwoods14_0157Redwoods14_0124Redwoods14_0195Redwoods14_0201Redwoods14_0209Redwoods14_0222Redwoods14_0229Redwoods14_0250Redwoods14_0254Redwoods14_0265Redwoods14_0280And finally – a moon-rise above the forest. Now back to cuttin’ leather!

  • Ang - March 7, 2015 - 4:03 pm

    Such amazingly beautiful photography. While I do appreciate your leatherwork and admire your ethical processes, I always find your photography and the way you capture the light and landscapes very compelling.ReplyCancel

    • Mr. Lentz - March 9, 2015 - 10:53 am

      Thanks Ang! I love taking short trips out of the workshop to photograph nature. It’s what inspires me the most!ReplyCancel

PhotoSetup_0001Today I spent a good few hours photographing some wallets that had never made it into the shop, also a few that needed an updated image. Slowly but surely I shall get through ‘em all. Not much is needed for high quality images, just a good light source (I prefer soft lighting), good focus, and setting up your camera for the right exposure. In the photo above you can see the simple setup I use for product shots.  A large softbox close in and slightly above, a nice custom built wood plank set for the backdrop and on the right (unseen) is a white wall that acts as a great reflector to help lighten up the shadows. Usually I set up a reflector on a stand, but the wall serves this purpose quite nicely. I am using an old Canon 5D with a zoom lens. I attach it to the flash with a sync cable, and the flash is plugged into the wall outlet to allow me to shoot quickly with enough power. Usually I take between 30 to 50 shots of each product in each color. Then after eyeballing each one on the computer – I narrow down the good shots with the best focus and framing. From there it is several hours of adjusting the white balances, exposure, framing, and cleaning up minor details like those unruly dust particles that love to pop out on black leather.

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Just so I didn’t forget that the rest of the world still has seasons, my girlfriend and I headed out East to visit family and take a short ride into the Adirondack mountains. It’s fall over there, and it feels it. A cold chill in the air, brisk wintery breezes on their way, colorful displays of dying leaves, and the crunch beneath my feet. It’s a thick forest up there, unlike most I have been through in the West. Lots of greens, yellows and reds…and dare I say ticks with Lyme Disease. I was acutely aware of this contagion by tick. Luckily for us out in the West it is uncommon, but be sure to check yer toes after a hike in the East. Below are a few shots form the trip, some farm life, apple picking, and hiking around the area. It’s good to take a break and get back in the woods.

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