Sunday, October 9, 2016

A new, versatile addition to the workshop, and another project

© Joshua Stark 2016

After finishing the duck straps, I used some recent archery class earnings (I teach archery, if you are interested in learning) to purchase a 10 in. bench-top drill press.  It isn't a super-expensive model (it's from Harbor Freight), which means I will be using it for other purposes, as well.

Yes, it can drill holes in wood and metal with it -- but I also stumbled upon a great other purpose, one that serves my leather work:  You can use it as a leather press for rivets and punching holes.

For years now, I've been working at a workbench in the living room.  It's a cheap Ikea dining room table, and it doesn't have the sturdiness needed to pound in rivets, snaps, eyelets, grommets, etc.  When I need to set those, or punch holes, I've had to take out a sturdy footstool (confession: it's also from Ikea) and a marble slab, bend way down and hammer away.

I'd been looking at a nice press tool at Tandy Leather, but I'd been turned off by the price ($155!) for something I can do with a rubber mallet, even if I have to take a few more steps.

Then I thought, why not look for another kind of press?  After all, the Tandy press is just a handle and a place to hold dies.  Well, lo and behold, a small arbor press can be quickly modified to hold the dies and tools used for making impressions and holes in leather... which led me to thinking, why not just use a drill press while it isn't moving?

So I Googled it.

Yep.  Here's a great little video with a couple of good tricks for quickly modifying your drill press to set rivets, grommets, etc.  It's not mine, and I don't know the guy, but it's a good video (except for the part where he says, "Who's your daddy?"... that's kinda weird.)

I tried it, and was able to punch a hole in no time, with no modifications, and set a rapid-style rivet.  It works great!

Okay, so back to another project -- this one a sheath for my cousin.  I've only made one other sheath, and this one has an odd handle.  Here are a couple of pics:

Here's the leather, cased, before staining and stitching.
Stitched and stained (with a saddle-tan antique).  All that remains is putting on a keeper, and a copper rivet into the top left corner (maybe).
It's been a fun project, another boost to what had been my flagging confidence.  Even my mistakes (hammering it dry, and cracking the leather a tiny bit) have helped build my confidence.