Friday, February 22, 2013

Current Project

The current project came from Military History Fest.

Covering the handles of pliers with leather for another vendor, Sheldon Pewter (lots of neat stuff!). 

It wasn't an issue at MHF, but at more serious re-enactment events the plastic grips on the handles of the needle-nose pliers he uses for, um, something to do with his business, are a problem. But if they're covered in leather, they don't stick out as modern things, and don't have to be kept hidden.

I've got three pairs. Covering them should be a straightforward process, which I started last night.  So lets step through it, shall we?

  • Find pliers, which came home from MHF with us. I cleverly managed to not confuse them with any of our pairs.
  • Find a nice piece of leather, in the scrap bin as it happens.
  • Cut off a small chunk for testing.
  • Proceed to splitter. 
  • Discover that somebody didn't open the splitter back up after use. 
  • Try to set the splitter to thinner setting. Encounter resistance.
  • Discover leather scrap in splitter.
  • Use own pair of pliers that live with sewing machine to extract leather from splitter.
  • Split scrap to appropriate thickness, get wet, check mold-ability.
  • Estimate length of leather needed.
  • Cut off estimated length, split down, then cut into handle-sized pieces.
  • Put leather in water to soak.
  • Decide that rusting customer's pliers with wet leather would be A Bad Idea.
  • Can't find precision drip bottle of light machine oil. Decide spray can (Ballistol) will work.
  • Exercise forethought and find paper towel.
  • Spray pliers. 
  • Go wash a few dishes while leather soaks.
  • Start trying to mold leather around first handle.
  • Discover you used too much oil, which has spread itself to the grips (which were wiped off after spraying) and your hands.
  • Wipe off excess oil.
  • Hope the customer didn't want that dirt/minor rust that the oil removed.
  • Come up with a Cunning Plan to deal with the ends of the handles.
  • Use Stupid Amounts (tm) of binder clips to hold the leather in place.
  • Proceed to pair #2. Grumble that these don't open up as wide.
  • Decide there's no way you can bend space to get two binder clips in, find pinchy-clamp to hold leather from both sides at once.
  • Look at third pair and ponder that you're probably not charging enough for this job.
  • Third pair has handles made from flat stock, with chunky plastic grips.
  • Form and stretch and apply binder clips.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Decide that's the best you're going to get.
  • Decide you'll figure out exactly how you're going to handle the top of the grips when it comes time to do the actual sewing.
  • Do the second handle on pair #3.
  • Take pictures.
  • Realize that the camera phone can't handle the contrast between dark-ish leather and white paper towel background.
  • Say to hell with it and go finish the dishes.
  • Come back in the morning and try the picture thing again without the paper towel.
  • Take a couple binder clips off one pair. Leather dry, but still a little bit of moisture on handle. 
  • Replace binder clips.
  • Feel very smug that this seems to be working out so far.
  • Still debating how to handle the tops on pair #3.
So, here they are, all three pairs, with umpty binder clips holding the leather on (click to embiggen).

The first pair attacked are in the middle - open nice and wide, handles not too chunky. Pair #2, on the right, has chunkier handles, and that's about as wide as they open. Pair #2 is on the left. The top binder clips are actually above the ends of the plastic grips.

I'll probably trim above the grips before sewing, and then trim the excess leather close to the line of stitching after sewing. 

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