Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Belts and Dies

Let's go back to my comment yesterday about getting a die to cut a part for kilt/Sam Browne belts. (although modern Sam Browne belts for military and police don't have the shoulder straps, I've gotten into the habit of calling the ones without shoulder straps kilt belts. And it's my blog, so there you go.)

These belts are 2-1/4" wide, and use a double-tongue buckle *and* a hook. You can see the buckle and hook, as well as other hardware needed to build a Sam Browne belt here.  

The hook goes at the end of the belt where you'd normally expect to see the buckle.  The billet end of the belt (the end with the holes) is buckled through the buckle, which stays there.  You fasten and unfasten the belt by hooking onto the buckle from behind.  

Now, if you get a belt from a certain utility kilt company out on the left coast, they use a Sam Browne belt buckle, but use it without the hook, treating it like a normal belt buckle. And that's what I did with the "kilt belts" that I made for sale. But because of the small size of the outer rectangle of the belt buckle, this doesn't work very well, there's really not enough room for two layers of leather to go through the buckle neatly.

With the Sam Browne belts I've made, and Robin's kilt belt (which is eventually going to get the rest of the hardware for shoulder straps), I made them properly, using hooks.  And I've been meaning to go back and retro-fit the hookless kilt belts I have for sale. The problem is that it's not a pleasant shape to cut - two ellipses with a center narrower part, and the whole thing is curves. It doesn't show when you wear the belt, but I wanted it to look like all the other parts, which are also curvy and ellipse-based. (And also a pain to cut - but I don't think I can justify dies for them).
Therefore, I finally got around to sending out requests for quotes for a die to make cutting it out easy.  I sent them to three firms last night.  I've gotten one back, and the profits from three belts would pay for it. Looks like I'm going to be buying a new die, once I get the other two quotes and decide who I'm buying from.  

One of the outstanding quotes is the company I buy most of my leather and hardware from, and where I got my other dies (satchel parts and armor scale).  If they're competitive in price I'll probably stick with them, but I thought it would be sensible to find out where they fall in terms of pricing.

For Ron and Robin's belts I sewed the hook piece on by hand.  But I've got this big sewing machine that does this kind of job much faster and with less stress on my hands and wrists.  So I think kilt belts for sale will be done by machine.  

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