Project Badgermascus – Interlude 5 – Making New Tools, Learning New Skills

I tried to make two sheaths out of crappy leather first, and it is a good thing that I did, because not only the measurements did not fit the first time, but the stamping and carving were not very good either. Who woulda thunk that making the basketweave pattern is a lot harder than YouTube videos made by master craftsmen make it look like?

The second time I got actually better, but I think I will make a third one before going to the good leather for the final product. Although I did cut a piece of good leather for experiments too and it does work differently (better) than the old crappy one.

In due course, I have made several new tools.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I had to make myself several new tools because those that I bought did not cover all I needed. I want to make a basket weave pattern on part of the sheath, but the store where I bought the rest had none and on other stores, I could not find one that I liked. Also, the beveler was a bit too big for some of the works that I need to do and the set lacked a mule foot tool, so I made one of that too although I do not intend to use it right now.

I have made all this using a hammer to drive the stamps, and that turned out to be not optimal. Apart from mushrooming of the tool ends and flaking off of the chrome-plating, I thought that the hammer hits unnecessarily hard. So I took out my lathe and started to make a mallet.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I took an old furniture leg from beech wood for this, although it is not optimal. It is hardwood, but not nearly hard enough. I will probably have to replace this soon as it gets chewed up fairly quickly, but it should last at least for one project. I have already an idea of how to make a new, better one with replaceable head, but that will have to wait for now – for that I first have to find out if I can buy or find suitable materials. If not, I will either try to find or glue-up a big enough piece of jatoba or black locust, since those are a lot harder and thus can withstand more abuse.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

And since building the lathe for just one thing is not worth the hassle, and I need to learn lathe work anyway, I have also taken another furniture leg and turned myself a burnishing tool, from beech wood too. Sycamore, black elder, or cherry would be better for this (they have smaller pores and are more homogenous), but I did not have a suitable piece of any of those quickly available, and this should suffice. Next time I have the lathe on the table, I will probably make a burnishing wheel for the drill press, but with the amount of leatherwork I am currently doing, this is enough. I soaked the mallet and the burnisher in boiled linseed oil and they are drying now. One cover should suffice, so tomorrow they should be ready to use, at least the mallet. The burnisher won’t be needed for a few days yet.



  1. kestrel says

    So wonderful to make your own tools -- they often turn out way better than what you can buy. Your stamping tools look like they make really nice impressions. Best tip I learned on using a basketweave is to put a little dot of paint on the front face of the tool, so that you always use it exactly the same way. It’s easy to turn it around the other way and although it might seem the same, it usually is not exactly the same. Nice work, it’s coming along well!

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