Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Swivel Knife Decorative Cuts

A recent topic came up regarding swivel knife cuts that are sometimes found on custom projects and inside custom belts. As we bantered the discussion back and forth, I promised to post a very short tutorial on how I practice my decorative swivel knife cuts. I find that using basic swivel knife cuts are the best way to help anyone become confident and comfortable with the use of the swivel knife. So, grab a piece of veg-tan scrap leather and give it a try. As with anything, this tool requires practice, practice, practice!
To start out, I use the width of a ruler and scratch two guidelines. As you progress in your practice, you can reduce the width of your guidelines. Before you know it, you will making cuts within a 3/8" guidelines. I then proceed with simple curves with no guidelines. Some times your desired space will be different, so learn to work within the space constraints that your projects allow. If you do not feel comfortable freehand your cuts, you can always use a circle template and draw half circles in opposite directions to start.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Let's Do Some Cooking....

Go ahead and start your oven.......at 250 degrees.
Take your tray with of cut up pieces of wax and place it onto of a cooking sheet. Pour a bit of warm water on the cooking sheet as a barrier for any over spill of wax to prevent a fire.
Carefully place both trays into the middle rack of the your oven. Be careful, the oven should be warm, so watch the fingers and hand. Close the oven door and keep an eye on the heating process. I placed 10 minutes on my cooking timer for me to return and make my first observation of the melting process. After the first 10 minutes, I would check it every minute or so until the liquid is clear.
At this point, this is where I differ with Ms. Cathy's process only because I was a bit impatient. Once the liquid was clear all of the way through. I carefully removed the tray and placed it onto of the oven. I then poured a bottle of my favorite beer into a glass mug and cut up some slices of cheese off the block. As I enjoyed my snack and drink, I watched the cakes go from a clear color to a white color. I check the paper cups and when it appear to be solid forming, I removed the cups from the tray. I had a piece of cardboard waiting to place them on for final curing. I completed my drink and snack and when the cakes cooled, I removed the paper wrapped around them.
After unwrapping them, I placed them into the freezer for a final step in the curing process for about 30 minutes. Oh yea, while I was at the box, I grabbed another beer and toasted another project completed!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Preparing the Wax

We start with a cupcake metal pan and the block of paraffin wax. Do not forget the cupcake paper cups/liners. Open up your block of wax, but be mindful that you will probably not use the entire block unless you are doing a lot of stitching and lacing. What I found is the amount of wax you get out of this block it might be best to make it a party with several other crafters. You can split the cakes evenly at the end of the session.
I used 2 1/2 slices off the block of wax for this project. I took a kitchen knife (sshhh...don't tell my other half) and cut the block slices into half so that I could manage them easier as I continued to cut them down.
As I cut the pieces into small bits, I distributed them into each of the three cups as seen in the picture. I made sure to stack the bits in the center, so as it melts it will try and melt from the center outward to the edges. Be careful not to overfill for fear that it will spill onto the pan and maybe cause a fire.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Starting out with Gulf Wax

This is what I found in the canning section of my local HEB grocery store. It comes in a block divided into 4 pieces approximately 1/2" thick. Before I go on, I was asked by a reader why not use the wax the way it comes packaged. As I explained to the reader, you can use whatever you feel comfortable using. Since I travel quite a bit and consider myself a traveling tooler, I like to minimize the amount of tools that I bring without sacrificing what I need. This is why I come up with ideas to have my tools perform multiple tasks. This paraffin wax cakes falls right in there with my goal. I could just take a piece of the block and move on, but with a little round cake, I have them pre-packaged and small enough to stick in a corner. Remember, these projects are just a way of sharing 'another' way of doing things. It is not the 'only' way of doing things. So, let's get to making some paraffin wax cakes!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paraffin Wax Cakes ~ No Really!

I found this great recipe for making Paraffin Wax cakes to be used on your thread and/or lace. I cannot take any credit for the recipe. I will post the recipe below and you are more than welcome to proceed on your own. If you feel that you are a visual person (like me), I will be posting pictures of some of the steps described in the information. MAKING PARAFFIN CAKES In lieu of beeswax, below is a recipe for making paraffin wax cakes for thread and lace. Paraffin wax can be purchased at your local grocery store in the canning section; it comes in a large block to last anyone many years. Items needed: Paraffin Wax Cupcake Tin Cupcake paper cups Large Knife Oven Freezer The following is the process for making paraffin cakes. It is best to do this during the evening hours. Preparations: Start out with a muffin or cupcake tin. Place your paper cups in 6 of the cups. Take your paraffin wax (about 2 square blocks) and with your large knife cut the wax into small chunks. Place the chunks of wax in each of the muffin tin cups just above the ridgeline of the cups. Safety note: Place the cupcake tin on a baking sheet with warm water. This will prevent a fire should your wax spill over while in the oven. Carefully place the muffin tin & baking sheet in your oven. Turn the oven to about 250° and after approximately 5 minutes check on the progress of the melting. From this point on, keep a close watch on the pan until all of the wax has melted in the muffin tin cups. It should appear like clear liquid with no chunks visible. Once the wax has fully melted, turn the oven off and leave the tin in the oven. The next morning remove the tin tray and pop it into the freezer until the tin becomes cold. Remove the tin from the freezer and take your cups. If you encounter some difficulty, they should pop out onto the counter. Side note: As you use up the wax you will develop all sorts of thread/lace cuts in it. This can easily be fixed by placing them back into a muffin cup in the tin and repeat the process to make them perfect again. You can also make a batch of 50/50 Paraffin & Bees Wax for trial purposes. Results: You will find that the paraffin wax will be slicker. Once you apply it to the thread or lace, take a piece of heavy duty canvas or brown paper and burnish the thread or lace. This process should take care of the flakes of wax left over from the application. Once you have completed your project, take a rag and rub the thread or lacing to remove any flakes. For stubborn waxy flakes, you can deploy a hair dryer, which should quickly melt down the flakes. Wipe the project down with a rag. The paraffin wax is also good for lubing your stitching awl. This is accomplished easily by stabbing (carefully) your awl into the wax cake. If you want to have a stickier/more water resistant wax on your thread or lace, it is suggested that you use bees wax muffins (for lack of a better term). You will not get the flaking as with the paraffin wax. Recipe and process are used with compliments & permission from the author Cathy S. (Northern California)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mouse Pad Completed

I stitched the mouse pad and finished the edges. I received a question about this mouse pad and whether it would work with an optical mouse. I ran it through the paces and it worked just fine. The pad made it into an envelope and on its way to Corona, CA.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Finish & Stitch Groove

After completing the tooling of the mouse pad. I wanted to keep the project as firm as possible that I did not apply oil. Plus, I really did not tool enough that I felt that I needed to. I did select and proceed with the application of a Neat-Lac alternative called 'Clear-Lac.' Some folks have written and asked where this item can be purchased. I know of three locations to get 'Clear-Lac', Panhandle Leather, Wild Mare Leather and from Springfield Leather Company. My quart was purchased from the latter. I know that Sheridan Outfitter's in Wyoming sells an equivalent called 'Wyo-Sheen."
A question that I often get asked has to do with my hand stitching. I decided to post pictures of how I initiate the layout for my hand stitching. For me, I find that cutting a stitching groove provides a straight line for my stitches. My projects vary in thickness depending on what I am working on, so the distance of my stitching groove will depend on the project. I was taught to use my stitching groove tool to determine the appropriate distance. I start by releasing the set screw that secures the groove blade and adjust to the thickness of the leather with the blade and guide stem as shown in the second picture. Once I have determined the distance, I secure the groove blade with my screwdriver and now I am ready to create my desired groove.
Another question I get is when do I cut my groove. When my leather is dry or wet? For me, it really doesn't matter when I cut my groove. What I have found out is if you adequately sharpen and strop your groove blade, this shouldn't even be a concern. I took it a step further and polished my groove tool guide stem, so that it will glide easier as you start cutting the groove. If you take on these recommendations, try not to grind or change the profile of the groove blade or you run the chance of ruining it. For shapes like this, I go to my local auto parts store and buy a value pack of wet & dry sandpaper. Make sure that your pack contains at least 1200 grit. As with any cutting instrument you use, always strop it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mouse Pad Continued.....

I completed the tooling of the frame. I provided a close-up picture for your viewing pleasure. Please excuse me if I do not write up any details on how to tool this frame. The reason is because it was very difficult to figure out myself and I am afraid that I would just confuse anyone if I tried to do it. I did received many compliments on this mouse pad on Facebook that I may post an easy diagram (size ratio) down the road for anyone to attempt this tooling. The main tool is a Craftool V708. There are a few other tools that I used to complete this project.