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How To Install Plywood Walls in a Workshop

tools for installing plywood walls

 

Here’s a little tutorial on how to install plywood walls, but first… a little backstory. This summer we moved our leather shop up to Washington state and into a new workshop space. The workshop was bare-bones and definitely needed a little help, and part of what needed to be done was sheathing the walls in plywood. I chose plywood simply because I really only had two options… Drywall or Plywood. Drywall is notoriously a pain in the behind and I have no real experience with it. I also think drywall is not a great choice for a workshop since it does not function well in being able to install shelving, brackets and hangers wherever you need them. Truth be told plywood was actually my second choice. I originally wanted to install aged wood boards to lend a little character to the space, but reality dictated that this would be a poor choice due to non-uniformity in wall thickness, warping, smells, and insect infestation.

That said I suppose we should get on to it, so here’s a quick tutorial on how to install a plywood wall. Once you have these basics down for measuring, cutting to width, cutting holes for obstructions and securing…you can just repeat over and over until your project is done. Oh – for those with workshops in their garages attached to the house, make sure to refer to your local code to see if plywood is allowed. In many places you can use it – just not on the wall that is shared with the house.

PART 1: Tools and Materials

You won’t need much to get this project going. I should note that the tools I use, I purchased on my own accord and I do not receive any compensation for showing them off (similar tools from other brands will work quite well too). The image at the top of this post – from the top down I have a track saw and track (used to cut the plywood to width or length, or other odd angles), battery operated jigsaw (cutting out holes or other obstructions), deck screws #9 x 2″ length GRK brand, drill with bit for screws, drill bit slightly larger than width of the blade on jigsaw, work gloves, t-square 36″, pencil, notepad, measuring tape, protective glasses, thin wood shims (to raise plywood off ground level).

plywood type for building plywood walls

Then of course you will need to choose the right type of plywood. Typically most will base this on price, I did too since I had to purchase around 40 sheets of the stuff! I actually really dislike the look of the typical cheaper plywood you find in most home stores. It’s not the most pleasing stuff to look at. I ended up going up a notch in price for something called ‘Sande’ plywood. From researching it online it doesn’t appear to be the best type if you are building finer cabinetry, however for a wall in a workshop I think it will do quite well. A lot of people had issues with ‘voids’ in the plywood – that’s something you don’t want in a woodworking project. I ended up choosing this type for two reasons – it was still towards the cheaper end, and it has a very flat look to it. The grain pattern is not very pronounced so it kind of blends right in.

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Building a Workshop – Updates

propane tanks on side of workshop buildingI thought I should throw a shop update on the blog here to keep you all in the loop as to our progress since moving in. I believe I last left off when we were getting insulation put in. That took a solid week or so and now the walls and ceiling are looking good. So good in fact that it was time to get the furnace up and running before the cold winds started blowing from up north. This area of Washington is technically a ‘temperate’ climate, but winter daytime averages are in the low 40s. Add to that the fact that we are out in the woods, and things tend to cool down quite a bit, especially in the shade. About 3 weeks ago we had a couple of propane tanks dropped off in preparation for getting the furnace in place.

furnace for workshop building

A Workshop Furnace

I decided to move it into the loft space to keep it away from the work areas and thus help keep it quieter inside. The silence in here is deafening, you can hear a butterfly fart. So I wanted to keep it that way as much as possible and by placing things up in the loft I can now wall it off to further dampen the noise. As you can see, the return is built right onto the unit with minimal duct work since it’s near the top of the building. When things get really cold I can keep the blower on just to keep warm air circulating.

gas shutoff for furnace in workshop

fresh air vent for workshop heater

I also had the guys put in a fresh air return with shutoff, I think it will help during cold days if there’s a bit too much humidity in the shop due to drying hides out after we hand dye them. It also helps if you need to flush the shop with fresh air, but this isn’t as likely since we don’t work with toxic chemicals. All of our dye, conditioner and wax is handmade right here in the workshop from natural materials. So natural in fact – that we don’t use gloves!

metal tube duct for heating in workshop

To help spread the heat in the entire shop we had a line of duct put in place. It kind of has that grocery store look, but it works quite well.

heating duct for workshop

regulator for propane

After clearing inspection with the county, we were finally able to get things hooked up and tested out. This heater certainly does the trick, and now I can walk into the shop on those busy pre-holiday mornings and have it ready and toasty.

Safety Railings for the Loft

american made leather workshop

While all of that with the heater was going on I set to work building a safety railing in the loft. It’s a little over 10 feet off the ground up there and felt a bit precarious. The last thing I needed was a camera to go rolling off the edge…or better yet – my feet! Well, technically anything can roll off that edge still as there is no toe board (inspector pointed that out). So I still have more work to do up there, but it’ll be quick. I installed the posts by myself on a ladder and to accomplish this feat of magic I did two things first. One – I measured twice…everything. Two, once I knew where the post would be attached I then screwed in two 9 inch deck screws to act as a platform to rest the post on.   hand rail on safety railing in workshop

I used a fairly simple construction method – just 4×4 posts and 2×4 railing and intermittent pieces.guard rail on loft of workshop     wood railing for stairs in workshop

The stairway has a railing now too and it feels much better with one!  wood railing on workshop stairs4x4 wood posts for railing on stairway

This may be too muchinfo – but thought I would share the very easy method I used to connect the posts to both the beam and on the stairway. For the beam I used the above ‘Timberlok’ 8″ screw with a large faced washer. This combo allowed me to drive the screw in using a hammer drill and no pre-drilling needed. This was extremely useful.connecting 4x4 posts to stairway

For the stairway I used these ‘Thrulok’ screws at 6 1/4″. These also are driven through the 4×4 and through the stairway stringer. Just long enough to reach out the other side and screw right into the included nut cap. Also a great alternative to the through bolt method.wood debris in leather workshop

sanding a wood floor in workshop

Up on the loft…soon to be the photography area… the OSB wood floor had quite a few oil stains on it from previous owners. I went to work with a belt sander and did what I could to make it feel a bit cleaner up there.     sanding wood floor in workshop building

Here’s the floor pretty much complete – it’s bare bones, but efficient!

Plywood Wallsplywood for walls inworkshop

As if that weren’t enough going on around here, I also had a stack of plywood delivered. I decided to start putting this up for my shop walls. In the end it was either plywood or drywall, and everyone knows what a giant pain drywall is. Plywood is very simple to install and is extremely useful for a workshop since you can build off of it and attach things to it at any point. workshop walls of plywoodplywood cutout for walls

Over the next few weeks I will be posting a short tutorial for anyone interested in the simple techniques I used to get the plywood walls up. I will make sure to cover a few of the handy tools I ended up with that are making the job much easier.

Work Shop Lightingworkshop lighting

One final part of our update is lighting for the workshop. I have high ceilings now…and no ladder that can reach them. This meant coming up with a solution where I could hang the lights without hiring a professional…and have them be moveable to areas where work stations would move. Right now my floorplan is workingout…but in a year who knows! I might change the layout to work better for me and I will need to move my lights as well. So – I decided on using cable attached between the beams 10 feet up. In this shot there is only one row of lights hung, but it is working quite well. The cable will hold a ton of weight and I can place them spaced out across the shop to help me hang lights practically anywhere. The shop lights plug in at the end of the cable where outlets were installed. This will show up again in a tutorial as well in case anyone out there faces the same issue.outline of tree tops in forest

And with that, it’s Friday and time to relax. There’s a lot to do to get this workshop all put together but it can all wait until after a nice walk through the woods. Make sure to get out side on the weekends and enjoy nature!

Photos from our Customers

Every year I ask my customers to send in photos of their wallets to see how they are doing. This will be the third year running the submission and it’s arguably something I look forward to quite a bit. Below are some shots from last year’s submission. It’s great to see how the leather is ageing in very unique ways for everyone. The type of leather I use is called Full-Grain Vegetable-Tanned and it develops a very rich patina with time. Some things that affect this patina are: exposure to sunlight, oils in your hand, rubbing in the pocket, and any surfaces it touches along the way. Over time the wallet can get rubbed into a very shiny looking leather. It’s tough stuff and only looks better with time.

From Andy KB // 42 months of use on that lower left one
William J. // 24 months // Sun Tanned Natural
Tom L. // 4 months // Sun Tanned Natural
Rustam A. // 24 Months // Western Brown
Peyton H. // 16 months // Sun Tanned Natural
Jeff S. // 26 months // Sun Tanned Natural
Jeff H. // 23 months // Desert Night Dark
Greg B. // 36 months // Sun Tanned Natural
Glenn F. // 6 months // Sun Tanned Natural
David S. // 6 months // Western Brown
David D. // 12 months // Western Brown
C. Grantham // 23 months of use // Western Brown

Insulating the Workshop

Not hardly two months have passed since we first moved into the new workshop and things had to be packed up again! This time I only had to move everything about 30 feet away though, so not quite as big of a deal. The workshop is currently getting some new insulation installed. Can’t be working out there in the dead of winter without it! It would be quite a miserable undertaking to try and weather a Pacific Northwest winter without heat. Waxes and oils would harden up and dyes would freeze solid.

The first step was to take out some randomly placed older insulation, a cheaper and common variety of R-19. Unfortunately a few pieces showed signs of mice in them so I have been going around the perimeter sealing up entry points with expanding foam or weatherstripping. Hope that does the trick, but I can imagine it might be an ongoing battle out here in the woods! Luckily we’ve been spotting a neighbor’s barn cat in the yard recently, maybe his hunting is going well.

Above you can see just the leftover empty tables that couldn’t be moved. I wrapped them up in some thin plastic sheeting to help keep the fiberglass dust away.

I decided to go with R-21 in the walls and R-25 in the ceiling. It was only slightly more than the cheaper option and looks to be much higher quality. The R-21 is actually slightly thinner so it fits into the wall much better without pillowing out.

After the insulation is put in, the guys wrap the walls in WMP vapor barrier. I opted to go down to the floor with it since it is going to take me quite a while before I put up some plywood or boarded walls. On steel buildings like this – the vapor barrier goes on the inside facing wall and the insulation is installed right up against the steel panels. If you heat a building like this without it, the building will ‘sweat’ and condensation will pour down the walls.

Unfortunately for the installers – they only have a metal scaffolding which means hauling up the insulation piece by piece for the ceiling is a pain in the butt. I am just glad I decided not to try it myself, as it looks to be very tedious work with a material that is not much fun to work with. Sealing up the walls with WMP looks very time consuming as well as they make their way around every oddity on the wall including outlets and cracks and corners.

Hopefully only another day or two left on this project, I have had to shut the shop down in the meantime and can’t wait to get things rolling again. Then I can finally set up my lighting in the workshop as the days slowly begin to shorten.

New Leather Belt Designs

aged leather belt example

All new belt designs have hit the shop. By late spring this year I had finished up the re-design of my belt line. I did a number of things to make these belts the last you will ever need. They are now all cut from 12 oz leather, and for those of you that aren’t familiar…it’s thick. It’s the real deal stuff – no need to sew two thin pieces of leather together to make it either (as most manufacturers do). There is basically nothing on this belt that can wear out. All buckles are solid brass and come with two finish options – polished brass or nickel plated. Even the snaps used on them are solid brass, yep we don’t mess around here! I hand cut them on a per order basis, so once you get your measurement (use the chart instructions on the product page) and place your order, I get working at cutting the strap from a large roll of leather. The image above shows how the leather will develop a patina over time. Pretty nice!

leather belt color choices

As always I offer three color options, the Sun Tanned Natural and Western Brown will darken with time and show a beautiful patina. Both sunlight and handling will affect the patina.

thick leather belt

To help get a better idea of how thick the leather I use is – it’s about 3 quarters stacked. What most people don’t realize about belts you purchase at large department stores is that they are typically two thin pieces of ‘bonded leather’ (scrap leather ground into bits and re-glued into sheets), sewn together and sandwiching a thin piece of cardboard in between for bulk. Yes…cardboard! It will appear shiny and bulky at first glance, but trust me you don’t want a belt with cardboard inside. My belts are one piece only and without stitching…there’s no stitching to break!

back of leather belt

The back side gets my company logo and unique sequential number stamp. Above the stamp is where your personalization will go if you choose to add one.

leather belt buckle options

On the single hole designs I have added several buckle options for all types. It’s hard to tell from the photo – but the Miner option is a roller bar buckle.

double tongue leather belt color options

One of the new designs is a double hole belt. I make these in two width options, 1.5 inches and 1.75 inches.

brown double tongue belt

change out belt buckle

All belt buckles are secured with solid brass snaps so you can change yours out at any point or use your own.

hole extension for double tongue belts

On the double hole belts – you can opt to have the holes extend for the length of the belt. Just let me know in the order comment section at checkout.

brown wide leather belt on pants

Above is a shot of the larger width belt. It’s a beefy 1.75 inches wide and looks nice on a pair of jeans.

leather belt conditioner

Every belt ships with a free tin of my shop made leather conditioner. It’s all natural and you can use it from time to time to keep those leather fibers in good shape. Check out all belt options in the shop right here.

Leather Moccasins Tutorial (Part 3 of 3)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

It’s now time to complete the final steps in this 3 stage DIY Moccasins Tutorial. I had to put off this last blog post for several weeks since we ended up moving the workshop out of state. You wouldn’t imagine the work that goes into moving a leather goods workshop. If you are interested in taking a look at that here’s a link to the first moving post here, and the second post here. Now back to Moccasin making! In Part 2 we glued up the Upper and stitched it together, then we glued up the back of the moccasin and stitched that together too.

Now the fun really begins. It’s time to lace the upper to the main body and in doing so we will also be securing the liner on that end just by running the lace through it. I chose to cut my own lace out of about 9/10 oz. full-grain vegetable tanned cowhide. I cut it down to size using a series of lace cutting and skiving tools. For the average person…I’d just recommend buying some pre-cut lace at 1/8 inch width and about 3/32 thickness or so. Not thicker though – as it will be hard to pull through all of the layers. I took a length of about 6 feet of lace and tied a knot in one end. I know this seems like a lot of lace, but the first time I did it I used a few feet less and ended up running out of lace a few inches from the end! One of my moccasins is now jimmy-rigged with another lace piece tied onto it on the inside. You can’t see it, but my little toe knows it’s there. I guess it’s part of the handmade world of imperfection.

I cut the other end of the lace to a point and even shaved off some thickness to the back. This will help you attach it to the lacing needle.

I attached the lacing needle and used pliers to crimp it onto the lace.

Starting on the side, (either is fine, but make sure to mirror it when you make your second moccasin) I folded the deer skin over the liner and pushed the lacing needle through all three layers.

Here you can see the liner is sandwiched in between the deer skin. Go slowly and make sure the needle goes through the holes in every layer.

You do the same technique on the Upper, lace goes down through the top hole, liner, then folded over deer skin. Then the lace is fed out the body (inner deer skin, liner and outer deer skin). I slowly made my way around the entire moccasin, trying as best as I could to keep the lace tight. Inevitably I had a few loose spots, but this can be fixed with a lacing Fid at the end of the project. Basically you insert the fid under the lace and work it around to pull the loose lace into tighter areas to even it out.

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All Moved In

It’s been a few weeks now since the moving truck arrived and things are finally starting to fall back in place. It took a while but the workshop is fairly put together at this point. I can’t fully unbox things quite yet as we will be doing a little electrical work to get a lot of the outlets into a safe working condition. After that it’ll be time to insulate…glad I moved up here in the summer though as that bought me a bit of time to get this all done. As of this week we have caught up with orders, thanks to my lovely girlfriend Kristen. She’s been helping out quite a bit and I am training her up to be another wallet wrangler. I should do a little introductory post on her in a short bit here.

A few of my footpresses ready for action.

I set up the wood workbench near a window…finally get a view while I work. The last shop didn’t quite have that appeal, with no real windows it was like working out of a cave. The shop needs a bit of work though – I have to figure out how to light from a 20 foot ceiling. Not quite sure what the best method is yet since I may be re-arranging the space again at some point. It’s not like I have a giant A-frame ladder to make adjustments at ceiling height either. I’ll have to think about that one!

Outside the shop is pure beauty. We live on a few acres out in the woods and if I don’t keep things trimmed back…perhaps the workshop itself will get swallowed up.

 

As anyone from the Pacific Northwest may know – these blackberry bushes have basically overtaken the area. They grow faster than you can cut them down and kind of take over everything if you don’t manage them. This summer we might let them be and enjoy the fruit, but pretty soon it’ll be chopping time.

Here’s an old logging bridge on the property. It too is slowly being swallowed by the forest. I have plans to outfit it with some wood planks and make a nicer looking footbridge.

I still can’t get over how beautiful it is up here. So green, lush and sunny (at least for now!). It has been a good change of pace too – the post office where I make my dropoff is happy to receive mail! Something I had yet to experience in bigger cities. Life seems a little bit better up here, I will keep y’all posted on my projects both in the shop and on the land. Coming up next…the final installment on the Moccasin DIY, Part 3!

Setting Up Shop

After a few weeks of packing up the shop and tying up loose ends in the dusty winds of the desert southwest…we have finally made it up to the new Ranch here in Washington State. Well – it’s currently a ranch without any animals except the wandering deer, rabbits and perhaps a cougar lurking in the back part of the property! Above is a look at the new space we will be moving into. Basically a bare-bones steel workshop with a concrete floor and a bit of um, DIY electrical? I’m going to have to get that fixed up.

Looks like the place is going to need some TLC too. A furnace, insulation and some sort of water system. Well in short there’s a lot to do! The good news is that part of the workshop just arrived today so I have a few benches, and shelves set up. The second shipment should arrive on Friday, but boy did we have some trouble with those ‘professional’ movers.

As far as orders are concerned if all goes well at this point I should be up and running on Monday and will begin making and shipping orders in the order that they were placed. I am thankful to have the helping hand of my lady who’ll be helping out around here for a bit as my second in command Ranch Hand, it’s making things run a lot smoother. Thank you all for your patience during this – it was quite the undertaking getting this shop all packed up and moved as well as checking off every other item that is part of a move out of state.

Washington so far is incredibly beautiful. What a perfect time to get here, just when the rain has basically stopped for the next few months! I know quite a few of my customers and readers are up here and boy – what a lucky crowd. Anyhow, back to enjoying the calm before the storm! Below is a view out the back door of the shop:

We’re Moving North!


We’re headed North, and by North…I mean wayyy up north. Not quite to Alaska, but to the northern tip of Washington State. It is an incredibly beautiful area and vastly different than the deserts we are used to. Over the past year or so we’ve been scoping the area for the perfect place to set up the workshop. As it turns out it’s not as easy as it used to be to fit all my leather and tools in one spot and finding just the right place was quite the challenge. In fact the challenge will really just begin when we get there – I still need to set up some electrical, plumbing and get some heat into the place before the fall. Lots to do this summer and I plan to document a lot of it on the blog for those that want to follow along.

Anyhow, while the shop is being disassembled, packed, moved, unpacked, and reassembled I am offering everything in the shop at 10% OFF, ENDS: 6/26/18. There’ll be a bit of a delay on orders, so hold yer horses! I am estimating that everything should be back up and running and orders will start shipping out on July 2nd.

Thanks again and now, back to packing!

Leather Moccasins Tutorial (Part 2 of 3)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

In Part 1 of this tutorial, we did a lot of cutting, shaving, hole punching and generally prepping the leather for the next stage. Here in Part 2 of this tutorial we are going to glue things together and stitch them up. Above I have taken the deer skin and the shearling of the upper and put glue between them only on the part just underneath those clips. I chose not to glue the whole piece together as the glue may wear over time and it could be visible on large flat surfaces. By only gluing at the top – we are just securing the pieces together long enough to punch the stitching holes and stitch them together. the other edges with the holes punched in them will be laced together and do not need glue.

 

On the body of the moccasin I clipped both the deer skin and the shearling together first to line things up. Then I carefully glued between the pieces on the back end of the leather and replaced the clips. Make sure to wipe off any glue that seeps out after replacing the clips.

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New Keychains Ready

leather keychains

These past two months I’ve been hard at work creating an entire new line of leather keychains. The two original keychain designs have been updated with my thicker bag leather and now have 7 different hardware options to choose from. All keychains feature a mix of stainless steel hardware, solid brass rivets or snaps and my finest U.S. Full Grain leather.

In addition I have added several new designs to hold your keys in every possible way. I’ll take a few words and go through each of them below with y’all:

First and foremost here’s one of the original designs – the belt loop keychain. Shown above with all 7 current hardware options. This style was meant to clip around your belt, but you can attach it to a water bottle, bag, or whatever else is convenient.

The Key Pocket comes in two sizes – the small will hold several regular keys and the large was made to hold most electronic car keys plus a couple of regular ones too.

The Adjustable keychain easily fits over any sized belt and has a bit of classy Western Style infused into the buckle system. You can adjust it up or down as needed. The stainless steel clip at the end makes it easy to attach your keyring as needed.

The Leather Wrist Keychain keeps those keys conveniently close at hand and also includes the 7 hardware options. Slide your hand through the loop and walk off, or drop it into a bag – it’ll be easy to find later on.

leather key wrap colors key wrap

Here’s a modern take on a classic key holder design. The leather Key Wrap holds around 6 regular keys and the cover snaps in place to keep them from jingling around too much. You may be able to fit a smaller electronic car key in there…or if you’re unsure, just ask us to install another split ring and it’ll work just fine on the outside.

keychain tag color options

The Keychain Tag is the simplest one yet – put a name or initials on it for a simple gift, or add a word on there to remind you what the keys are for in the first place! This keychain is made from my ultra thick belt leather, just about 3 U.S. quarters in thickness.

Some of us have just a bit too many keys to manage…that’s where the Jailer’s Keyring comes in. A very large stainless steel ring will hold hundreds of keys on the attached smaller stainless steel keyrings. Some choose to use this the other way around and use the clip to attach their keyring, then use the large ring to wear on the wrist.

Go on and check out the entire selection here. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.

How to Make Leather Moccasins (Part 1 of 3)

tutorial for moccasin making

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

 

This past Winter break, as the holiday leatherworking season was coming to a close, I set off on the interesting and challenging journey of making my own fur lined moccasins. I like to dive into projects where I lack certain skills, just so I can learn them along the way – this project is actually great for that. It’s not so hard that a beginner shouldn’t try it and by the end you will have a pretty clear understanding of several skills including patterns, cutting, punching, skiving, sewing, lining, and lacing. Plus, you get even warmer feet for the next winter! I put together this fully photographed step by step tutorial on how to make leather moccasins to help everyone out there that’s interested in making more than just a keychain. Projects like this typically take me several months to photograph, record and put into a blog, so I have broken things up into three separate posts, this being the first. The others will follow soon, but there’s a fair amount here to get started!

Above is the first moccasin I made…we actually it’s the second, I completely screwed up the first one I made in several ways…gave up the project for 1 full year, then decided I would not accept defeat and gave it another shot this past winter. Below are a few photos of the first failed attempt:

Above, my first attempt sits next to my original pair of Minnetonka’s. I struggled through every single step of this first try…hours and hours of work…only to find that the finished result was a hair too small due to excess fur in the inside, as well it didn’t feel durable on the outside as this is just a shearling’s skin exposed as the ‘flesh’ side out. It’s very brittle and tears easily. I worried about stepping on a rock and the thing splitting in half!

Above is a close up of that failed attempt, the fur was a big problem for all of the stitching work and lacing. Causing stitching holes to be way off and making it nearly impossible to pull lacing through at the end. I gave up and started anew below. Read on to see how my second attempt (and your first) will be a success.

TOOLS

tools for making moccasins

So you’re going to need a few tools to get this project completed. Above from left to right: Paper towels, small exacto knife, rolling blade, leather scissors, utility knife, pen, pencil, ruler, rotary hole punch.

more tools for moccasins

The above tools apply more on the stitching and lacing end: Electric Pet Shaver (yep mine’s a cheap one by Wahl designed for grooming pets), pliers, maybe 30 rubber coated mini clips to aid in gluing, Fieblings leathercraft cement or other PVA glue, stitching pricking iron, lacing needles x 6, harness hand sewing needles x 6 with blunt tips, single stitching awl, waxed stitching thread, mallet. (not shown here: stitching cutter – used to take your own store bought moccasins apart for pattern making, and poster paper used for tracing the pattern onto)

LEATHER

For this project I use a Top Grain deer hide bought on ebay, it has a thickness of 3 to 4 oz. Look for one with minimal holes and tears. I also purchased a shearling hide for the liner, also available on many online stores. You don’t necessarily need the liner, but this tutorial shows how with one, so modify at your own risk!

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A Look Back at 2017

I kind of like this time of year. The holiday order rush has dwindled, the New Year is upon us, and there’s finally a bit of time to sit back and reflect over the happenings of this past year. It’s interesting how the feeling of today will vastly differentiate itself from that of tomorrow, Jan. 1 2018. A single day change, and suddenly we will all be off to the races to improve, modify and hopefully make our lives better in more ways. I too am like this, and admittedly I too also falter on quite a few of those changes after a few weeks! That said, I think change should be thought of more as a continual process that has no beginning date or end date. Just a constant modification to improve our lives and those of others as well.

Alright – that’s enough philosophical rambling for now, so here’s a peek at the actual changes in the workshop this past year:

New Designs

The most obvious thing to start with are the new leather goods designs created this past year. I initially spent a significant amount of time looking into stitching a line of bags, even came out with one design for a few weeks as a test sale. Alas – I decided I am not quite yet ready to stray from my trusty rivets.

I still do like that design above, perhaps it’ll reappear at some point in the future. After that bag, came a whole slew of new ones here:

A few new wallets and accessories were built:

Even a few updated designs for the ladies, with a snap closure for the Tote, and anew handbag:

Then I decided to make an entire line for gear suited for all your doggies. This involved months of research into the best type of leather and hardware to be used on items that will undoubtedly see extremely rough treatment. It turns out, U.S. Latigo leather (highly resistant to weather and wear) and a new style of solid drilled brass rivet (near impossible to separate without ungodly amounts of force), and stainless steel hardware (the toughest you can get), all make for fine quality collars and leashes built to last:

A lot was learned in running my small workshop as a business this year. Namely – you really can’t sit back and just enjoy the spot you’re at too much. I mean you can, but as a business owner you really need to keep innovating and pushing the load uphill. If you relax too much, that load will push back on you and run ya over! Each year I learn little lessons like that, this year the lesson was, simply put, today’s world changes incredibly fast. Marketplaces can change from one month to the next so you got to be on your toes and change with it!

Another thing I learned is that running a business can be all-consuming. It’ll eat up all your time if you let it. Truth is, there is always something to be doing or working on next. For the next year I aim to come to peace with that and know that at the same time, it all doesn’t have to be done right now. Perhaps some gets done after a nice long walk, or after a full weekend has been spent with the computer off, or maybe sometimes that work will wait until after a short trip through the desert with my backpack.

Trips and R&R

Speaking of which, quite a few fun trips were made this year:

Backpacking into the Sawtooth Wilderness in Idaho for the Total Eclipse

A bit of Oregon and its endless beauty.

And a lot of Desert, to quench the soul’s need for some peace and quiet.

Tutorials

The year before I may have over-promised on my ability to post many more tutorials for y’all. As it turns out it takes a long time to build a tutorial for the site that I feel merits sharing with everyone. Ever notice how on other tutorial sites here and there, the stuff is shoddily built, corners are cut, or it’s just not a product made to last? Well, I only post techniques and builds that I am proud of and of sufficient quality. This means that for some things it can take over a month for me to finish. Heck, I don’t usually have all the skills myself to complete the project, but it is certainly worth taking the time to learn the new skill and build it the right way, so that you can have a handmade item for a long time to come. Here are a few from this year:

Well, ok this one above was technically from the very end of last year, but it’s worth posting up here. The Leather Keychain Tutorial.

I’m not sure this one above counts completely, but there’s some good info in there. I hand stamped a leather belt with a scene from the desert. I have worn it every day since. Stamped Leather Belt.

I know there wont be too many people with a need to make the above western style gun holster, but for me I have been working on some items to use as decoration in the shop. In the above tutorial quite a few new skills are passed on to you the reader. In-depth saddle stitching included. Leather Gun Holster Tutorial.

Sneak Peak

Coming into the new year I am working on some new moccasins to keep my feet warm. Now, technically I started these an entire year ago and gave up due to several technical complications. Well, I am happy to say that I finally figure out a way around those issues and have the right foot down below. I am photographing the entire process of making the left foot, so it will be a tutorial on the site within a few weeks time.

As for a look into what’s to come next year, well a lot really! I am planning a ton of new items for the shop. Look forward to several new wallets and accessories and perhaps even a few more bags too. I have quite a few in the works, so keep an eye out. Also – for those who enjoy the tutorial section of my blog, I will have a couple more scattered throughout the year depending on the time I have for it. Something even bigger may be happening this year, as once again I am looking into moving the workshop. Greener pastures await!

Thank you to all my readers out there and those of you who spent your hard earned cash on my leather goods. As a very very small business I truly appreciate you and your support, I wouldn’t be able to do it without ya!

Cheers to all of you in the New Year and good luck to you in your endeavors!

Sincerely,

Mr. Lentz

Something for the ladies

womens leather handbag

Over the past few weeks I had the urge to update a few designs in the shop. One popular request was for a simple Women’s Handbag with straps on either side. Above is my take on that idea, a simple and elegant bag made with high quality Full-Grain Leather and no stitching to break! The leather gives it a rustic feel as you can see some imperfections on the surface – basically it retains a lot of unique character (full grain has not been sanded down to remove blemishes).

womens handbag

The Handbag measures approximately 13 inches wide x 9.5 inches tall x 2.5 inches deep on the exterior (330mm x 241mm x 64mm). The hand straps measure 9.5 inches from the top of the bag to the top of the straps. The inside is wide open to throw all your daily needs in there. I don’t line the insides of my bags for one simple reason – I use high-end leather that holds up really well over time. Typically bags are lined to hide imperfections and tears in the leather, or protect low grade leather from rubbing through.

All solid brass rivets with a nickel plating mean this bag will stay strong for a lifetime a use. Available in time for the holiday season here.

handmade leather tote bag

The design above is just a simple tweak on my original tote bag. I have updated all totes with a simple snap closure on the top – a much requested feature over the past year. The snap helps keep the top nicely cinched closed while you shop.

The shoulder strap is fully adjustable and cut to wear high up or lower near your waist.

tote bag with snap closure

Just like the handbag above, the tote is also unlined because of the high-end leather. It is extremely durable and simply does not need it. The tote measures approximately 13 inches wide x 9.5 inches tall x 2.5 inches deep on the exterior (330mm x 241mm x 64mm).

riveted tote bag

All you ladies out there, make sure to treat yourself this holiday season (and dudes, this is a very simple and well received gift if you are stumped!).  You can find the Women’s Handbag here and if you are looking for the tote, just click here.