This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to Do", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: The Boy Mechanic, Vol2: 1000 Things for Boys to Do.
By MARY C. SCOVEL Part I
Leather work is one of the most interesting of the crafts, first, because the material is so pliable that any-Coin Purse - Back one can work it, and secondly, because any ordinary article can be made by simply following the directions carefully, although each of the various kinds of leather demands a different process.
The equipment necessary is simple, consisting of two special tools costing 50 cents each, one with a narrow edge for lining patterns, and one with broad ends for tooling; and a piece of tin, plate glass, or very smooth hard wood, which should not be smaller than 9 by 12 in. A soft sponge, a triangle, a rule, tracing paper and a hard pencil are also needed. The first attempt should be made on a piece of Russian calfskin. This may be purchased at any leather store or craft shop and costs about 50 cents a square A foot, if cut to measure. Whole skins contain from 8 to 12 sq. ft. and cost about 35 cents a square foot. Calfskin may be had in almost any color.
The coin purse will be the first article described. The size, pattern and design must first be determined. It consists of three parts, the front, back and flap, as shown in the sketch. This purse will require a piece of leather 4 by 8 in., in order to allow an extra 1/4 in. outside of the pattern to pin the leather on the board while transferring the design. The upper flap C folds Over the Coin Purse - Front front of the purse D. The design must be divided, the part belonging to C placed on the flap, and the part belonging to the front D, on the lower part of the front.
Take a piece of paper and fold it in accordance with the desired proportions of the purse, taking care that the design for the front D is on the same side of the paper as that of the flap C. The space F under the flap is without any design. The design for the front D is on the lower part of the upper division of the pattern. Fold the part F behind H, and then the part C behind H and F. Turn the pattern over for the proper position of the purse. Draw the entire design on tracing or tough tis-t sue paper. Wet the leather on the wrong or unfinished side with a soft sponge. Pat the leather and endeavor to moisten, but not soak it, with water. On some leather the water, if it comes through, leaves a stain. When the leather is too wet it is very hard to tool, as the tool sticks and makes an uneven background.
Pin the design firmly down against the leather and fasten the leather with thumb tacks on the outer margin.
With a hard pencil go over every line of the design with a firm, even pressure. If the leather is properly moistened, this will leave a clear outline of the design when the tracing paper is removed. Then with a lining tool - the tool with the narrow edge - go over the lines on the leather with a strong, firm stroke. Should a line design only be desired, this operation finishes the decoration.
Two other methods may be used: tooling or stamping. The design shown does not go to the edge of the pattern. A margin of at least 1/8in. between the edge of the pattern and design must be left for tooling and stamping. For tooling, after lining the pattern, use the broad end of the tool and make even, long strokes to press down the background. If the background is not easily pressed down, the leather is too dry. Take it off the board and moisten the back again, move the tool back and forth and around until the background is comparatively smooth. Keep the edges very sharp between parts pressed down and those that remain raised. The depth of pressing down the background is a matter of taste, but it should be tooled down enough to make the design stand out plainly. Fold the parts together and line with silk to match the leather and then stitch up the front and back parts of the purse close to the edge. This can be done on any sewing machine, or by a shoemaker. The circle M in the pattern is the catch or button which can be furnished and put on by a shoemaker, or at a trunk store.
Ill: Pattern for Purse
Ill: Stamp-Case Pattern
Any ordinary article of leather can be stitched on a sewing machine in the home. To do this successfully the stitch must be long and the needle of a large rather than a small size. Try the stitch on a scrap of leather before sewing the article. If the foot or feed of the machine mars the leather, place tissue paper or a plain piece of paper over the leather and stitch through both. After making the stitch the paper can be pulled away. Use as heavy a silk as the needle will take. The card case, coin purse, stamp case and bags can all be stitched on an ordinary machine, if the above directions are followed. In stitching any soft leather, such as ooze cow or ooze calf, if paper is not put between the leather and the machine, the stitching will stretch the leather. In making bags, instead of stitching on a machine one can punch holes close together with a small punch, and then with strips of leather sew the sides together over and over, or in any manner desired. If no machine is at hand, nor a shoemaker's shop nearby, a large pin or awl may be used to prick holes in the leather, and then the parts sewed together with needle and silk. Use a running or over-and-over stitch. An over-and-over stitch from one end of the seam to the other and back to the beginning of the seam, makes an X-shaped stitch which gives a very good finish.
The second method after tooling is stamping. Line the pattern as described. Purchase a common carpenter's nail set, with the head not too large. The smaller sets fit the patterns better and make smaller circles. Moisten the leather as described. Use a wooden mallet to strike the tool in stamping the background. This may be done either along circular lines or in a more irregular manner, but avoid striking the tool too hard, as too much pressure cuts through the leather Other stamping tools of good patterns may be purchased at hardware stores or crafts shops.
A needle book or stamp case is another handy article to make in leather. The sketch shows the design. A piece of Russian calf, 6 1/4 by 3 3/4 in., is necessary. This allows 1/4 in. on each side and end for pinning down the pattern. Fold a piece of paper into three parts as A, B and C, the front being A; the back, B, which is folded underneath the part A. The flap C folds up with B and then over A toward the front. When the pattern is open, the design for all parts must be on the same side of the paper. The design for the back B is put on the leather upside down. When the pattern is folded this makes the design upright. The parts A, B and C are equal in length and width. The part C may be cut in any shape desired, but keep the tongue D long and narrow. Make two horizontal cuts in the front A about 3/16 in. apart.
These cuts must be at the same distance from the bottom of the front as the narrowest part of the tongue is from the end. The tongue will then fit the cuts. Make the horizontal cuts a little wider than the tongue. The design is put on the leather in the same manner. It can be worked out in line, tooling or stamping. The parts A and B are sewed together.
The mat illustrated is another useful article and easy to make. Any size may be used, and the method of lining or tooling the design, or both, gives a very beautiful effect.