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The Sheath/Holster Makers Community Forum This is the place to discuss sheath and holster making in general.

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  #1  
Old 10-25-2003, 11:30 PM
SkaerE SkaerE is offline
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leather sewing machine?

i know, it may be heresy here but:

is there such thing as a machine made specifically for sewing leather or are they just HEAVY duty fabric sewing machines?

who makes a good one?

thanks
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2003, 12:10 AM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Not heresy at all - Sandy M aka helmar uses a machine of course he's 80 years old Just teasing Sandy.

Kenny Rowe is another master sheath maker who uses one.

Now as to are there special models for sewing leather - yes.
Actually there are two distinct types of leather machines - sewing machines and stitchers. The difference is that a sewing machine is essentially a very heavy duty industrial type machine and a stitcher uses both an awl and a needle. If you wish to sew with linen thread you pretty much have to go with a stitcher. The fly in the ointment for most of is that a good quality machine capable of sewing three plus layers of 8 oz leather costs upwards of $1000.00 and a stitcher is going to run $3000.00 plus (of course one may always find a deal but in general this is the prices you can expect to pay).

For sewing machines I have it on good authority (recommendations by professionals/friends in the business) that the following are good machines :
The Tippman Boss sold by Leather Factory/Tandy
The Ferdinand machines - www.ferdco.com - I would suggest the Baby Bull as the most applicable machine for sewing sheaths.
The Artisan machines - http://www.artisansew.com/Default9.htm -their 2618 model is the best bang for the buck.

Adlers and Jukis are also fine machines although I've heard from various sources that the Adlers can bea pain to keep timed.
All of the above machines can often be found used/refurbished.

As for stitchers - one stands a head above all the rest - Campbell/Bosworth. Others available are Landis and the Union Lock Stitch which is made new (it's a production machine though and is a bear to get to slow right at slow speeds).

Here's a link for more info ont machines:
http://www.a1sew.com/saddle.htm

There are also flatbed leather machines but they are not the best suited for sewing sheaths.

Bottom line - IMO unless you plan on sewing LOTS of leather handsewing is a better bet. I can sew and continue to sew lots of leather by hand (and not just sheaths - I do many, many lined belts every year and stitching a knife sheath of holster is a breeze by comparison) and don't have a sewing machine loan hanging over my head (of course since I do repro work a stitchern is a must - poly thread just doesn;t go on 19th century leather).
BTW if you are going to sew holsters as well as sheaths it is good advice to get one with a holster foot. If you are also going to sew belts than a flatbed machine is also in your cards, although you can sew them on a cylinder arm - it's just easier with a flatbed.
Also be aware that it takes a different set of skills to sew on a machine (voice of experience) - it is not just a matter of sitting down and sewing. In fact for sewing sheaths and holsters I find it much easier to sew and get a GOOD seam by hand.

Anyway hope this helps.


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The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #3  
Old 10-26-2003, 01:36 AM
simmonsk simmonsk is offline
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Hi,
Pop has the Tippman BOSS. He also has the reconditioned models that carry the same as new warranty(1 year) and come in a new box with tool kit and all the same as new ones. They are somewhere around $800 I believe.
Pop's Knife Supply706-678-5408.
Enjoy, Ken


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  #4  
Old 10-26-2003, 09:12 AM
SkaerE SkaerE is offline
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thanks for your help guys, i have a few more questions.

can the Tippman BOSS still sew heavy fabric as well as leather?

also, what is a holster foot? and where do you get them?

the tippman boss is "hand operated" ? (like a progressive reloading press type? or is it hand operated in leu of a foot tredle?)

thanks

Last edited by SkaerE; 10-26-2003 at 10:14 AM.
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  #5  
Old 10-26-2003, 02:29 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Most dedicated cylinder arms leather machines don't sew fabric that well, at least not thinner fabric - maybe the heavier cordura types?

A holster foot is a special foot designed for sewing close to the edge of holsters - only certain machines have them available so check with the manufacturer if you want one before plunking down your bucks.

The Boss is hand operated in lieu of a foot treadle - they do make an air powered model. The hand powered machines (some of the older stitcher are also hand operated) is nice for short runs but for long seams on belts I find it tiring if you do a lot of them and suggest either a treadle or motorized.

As Ken noted machines can be gotten cheaper than the prices I quoted originally if one shops around. A major concern with older machines is to make sure that parts are available and that you get some kind of warranty when you purchase.


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Wild Rose Trading Co - Handcrafted Knife Sheaths



The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #6  
Old 10-26-2003, 09:35 PM
simmonsk simmonsk is offline
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Hi,
You got me curious on the heavy cloth. I went out and sewed a blue jean shirt sleeve shut. No problem.
You will find that the BOSS is touchy on tension and stitches per inch settings. If you go from a thick to a thin material without adjusting, the stitches will be closer together. So do some sample pieces and take notes on the setting locations for repeatability.
You will have to make index marks on the adjustments as the BOSS has no reference points. If you deal mainly with one type of leather and sheath style, you will love the BOSS. If you remember to readjust when changing thicknesses, you will love it even more.
Wildrose is absolutely right on the long runs. It starts feeling like the Bataan Death Stitch when doing a belt or rifle sling. Once in a while is ok, but for production get a Bull! For normal sheaths for a small time maker, BOSS seems to be ok. I talked with Caveman Engineering(Geno Denning), and several others, they love theirs. I simply refuse to drill holes and hand stitch as I worked for years with waxed twine and threads sewing electrical cable forms for control panels and Dial Central Offices. I still have wrist and joint problems from that.
After 2 years of testing, asking, and looking, I drove 30 miles down the road and got the previously mentioned BOSS from Pop.
It clamps easily to a Black and Decker workmate table. If you want more stability, get the cute bench from Tippmann or fasten to a larger workbench.
Oh, on an interesting note. One nice lady made the comment that the BOSS is only "ready to go when you are." I asked ??? and she showed me a neatly scarred finger. She managed to become part of her work with the electric machine. She has never done that with the BOSS.
Anyway, your machine choice should be governed by what you plan to make, the quantity of what you will make, then look for the best deal in that category.
Enjoy, Ken


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  #7  
Old 10-27-2003, 01:18 PM
OutWest OutWest is offline
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The reconditioned Boss machine mentioned in this thread may be a real good buy. The new ones have an aluminum frame, the older ones are cast iron. My vote is for cast iron!
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  #8  
Old 12-08-2003, 09:16 PM
SkaerE SkaerE is offline
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ok, what about other brands? maybe in the $2000 and under range. ive talked to some who rave about the campbells and the landis 3, but i dont have $5500 to shell out right now.

i want something specifically made for leather. and hopefully powered. (not by me )

thanks
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  #9  
Old 12-08-2003, 09:35 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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take a look at the Ferdinand Pro 440/440R - www.ferdco.com


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Wild Rose Trading Co - Handcrafted Knife Sheaths



The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #10  
Old 12-08-2003, 09:56 PM
SkaerE SkaerE is offline
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thanks again Wild Rose,

for what its worth, i want this machine for holsters and belts as well. so if that makes a difference...
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  #11  
Old 12-08-2003, 10:09 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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I were in teh market for a machine in that price range to do holsters, belts, and sheaths this is the one I would seriously consider.


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www.wrtcleather.com


Wild Rose Trading Co - Handcrafted Knife Sheaths



The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #12  
Old 12-12-2003, 08:06 AM
SkaerE SkaerE is offline
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Wild Rose,

I am currently under the assumption that whatever machine i get should be a cylinder arm machine as opposed to a flat bed, correct?

i was told that a machine with a "walking foot" can marr the leather. i am also assuming they make machines that do not have this feature? (the walking foot it the part that pulls your workpiece under the needle isnt it?)

thanks once again for all your help and info.
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  #13  
Old 12-12-2003, 01:03 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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For doing holsters and sheaths yes you need a cylinder arm. Most leather shops have both - a cylinder arm and a flat bed is better for doing things like belts, chaps, etc. but a cylinder arm will do belts just fine although it's a bit harder to keep things flat and straight. Some guys I've known make a sort of flatbed out of plywood with a deep U notch to go around the cylinder arm.

All machines that use feed dogs and/or walking foots MAY cause marring - this will depend on the tension, which is usually adjustable, the quality of the leather, etc. Most walking foots can either be set out of the way or removed, but can be worth their weight in gold in my experince. Probably 90% of todays commercial leather goods are sewn on walking foot machines and I don't see a lot of marring so.....

My best advice at this point is to contact Ferdco (or whoever) and discuss your needs with them directly. I have talked with the folks at Ferdco in the past many times and they have always been very friendly/helpful and were never high pressure about sales.


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www.wrtcleather.com


Wild Rose Trading Co - Handcrafted Knife Sheaths



The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #14  
Old 11-15-2004, 08:31 PM
ironhorse ironhorse is offline
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tippmann boss sewing machine

You can get the boss at a great price and with a lot of free toys and free shipping at www.thingswestern.com and if you call him, he also has a great deal on the reconditioned ones. I watched him sew a 3/4 inch stack of leather at a show at quartzite AZ. and it went perfectly!
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