Jan 26, 2013

How to make a leather saddle

When the leather is in such a bad condition that is no longer restorable and we don't wanna end up in "Brooks" (No offense ment) or a doubtfull quality saddle, we can allways use the original estructure and "make" or better said: mold the cover.
In my humble opinion this is a more respectfull way of restoration, I love the above mentioned saddle's brand, but it is just not right for spanish roadsters from the 50's-60's, for instance.
First step is to manufacturate a mold as similar as possible to the original (Better use wood, DM makes an icredible cloud of unbreatheble dust)
My way of making the molds is cutting layers of 18-20 mm. thick and glue them one on tope of another.
After that comes sanding untill you reach the desired form.

Next step is to find the right leather. most saddles are made of "sole" leather between 4 and 5 mm. thick. The thicker it is the more difficulties you get to achieve the right form. So here you have to decide: If you are restoring a bicycle that's gonna be used to go to buy bread, then you better use 4 or even 3,5 mm. you'll get a much more accurate result with less effort. If the bicycle is going to have a heavy duty use, then take a 4,5-5 mm. thick leather.
Once you've made your choice let it soak in water for at least an hour. Take it of, put it on the mold and start forming, you can use nails or staples. The neck is by far the most difficult part, take your time.
Once you have it is time for dyeing it, do it while the leather is wet with alcohol soluble anilines. This is also the moment for decorations.

Now to the owen! Here you have to try untill you get the right temperature, depends of many things, first of all the owen...
I warm mine untill 80-100ºC and leave the leather (still on its mold) for an hour and half, but I contstantly keep an eye on it... some times my wife had to ask me what the hell was I coocking! This is necessary if we want the leather to keep its stiffness.

Then just draw the form and cut it! You'll need a strong cutter and the operation is quite risky, watch your hands and be extremily carefull!

Sand the cuts and use lacker to make it a bit shiny, Here we have our own brands...

After that is time to rehidrate. Use any specific brand of leather wax you may find.

It is not simple and you probably will spoil many covers untill you start to control the process, you'll find also your own ways to emboss, make the stencil, cut it (they are better tools actually for that)

Keep on trying and you will see the improvement for yourself. And in case of doubt you can always look for the inspirational work of the masters, such as Tim, from whom I've learned a lot.
Go ahead! Make a saddle!

No comments:

Post a Comment