Molding/Shaping Leather

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#1 ExSoldier-Cloud on 7 years ago

Hey anyone and everyone who reads!

My question is what kind of leather is best to use for molding; what I mean is how can I get leather to hold the shape of something else, for example like a gun holster ('cause a lot of those have hardened leather). The shape I want to hold isn't complicated, just a rectangle.

I want to use a black, dull leather. What is the best to use? And how do I even do it?

Please and thanks for any replies!

#2 OvershieldKusu on 7 years ago

Are you wanting to use hardened leather? Or simply make it have the appearance of hard leather? In my very limited experience of working with thick leather, it isn't hard to shape leather after soaking or boiling it in water. For me, the hardest part was crafting a workable mold to stretch/form the leather around for it to dry on.

After soaking the piece in cool water for about 30 mins, I placed it in slightly hotter water for about 15 mins. After removing it from the hot water, it was very flexible and easy to work.

As I am making leather arm pieces, I simply tied the leather in place around my arm for about 20 mins until it dried enough to hold the general shape.

Last step was to heat my oven to 170 degrees and place the piece inside for drying. I re-tied the leather lacing to keep it in the general circular shape. After about 25-30 mins in the oven it was stiff and retained the same light tan color that it started with.

(I did another test piece which I used near boiling water for about 30-45 mins before starting the molding process. This resulted in a darker color that was much harder after drying but it tends to crack and become brittle.)

As far as the kind of leather I used: [url]http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/department/Leather/Sole-Armor-Bends/9099-02.aspx[/url]

I've read that dying leather can mess with the hardening of the leather during the water-based technique.
Oh, last tid bit of info, if using hardened leather from the above mentioned method, you want a vegetable tanned leather.

#3 Penlowe on 7 years ago

Saddle leather is generally what that type of leather is called. no, I've never worked with anything that heavy. dyeing leather is pretty easy, leather dyes are alcohol based and you more or less just paint them on with a dauber then give it plenty of time to set. a rough surface is also reasonably easy (it's getting it shiny that is harder).

Saddle leather is nearly always hand sewn, because machines that can sew that are highly specialized, it's not something I'd attempt even with my heavy duty machine.

#4 char99char on 7 years ago

Maybe try a search on youtube for "how to make a holster" to get some ideas. Holsters use stiff leather to hold the shape - you aren't going to get the exact same effect with what you have. Maybe you could try soaking it in a mix of glue and water before you shape it to reinforce it some.

#5 ShinobiXikyu on 7 years ago

The type of leather was pretty much said before me (leather bends/saddle leather), but, getting leather stiffened, which can apply to most types of leather, not justthose, is done by a technique caled boiling.
No, it doesn't actually involve boiling it. You put it into the shape you want around a mold or frame, and then get it soaking wet and let it dry (a hairdryer helps to speed it up). That makes it permanently stiffened.

If real leather's a bit out of your budget, interfacing and pleather, or a double layer of pleather, or both, also works pretty well to get the "Stiff" leather look. Thouh if you're only making a holster, you can get a hide for pretty cheap.

#6 Amanita on 7 years ago

You don't even need a whole hide for a holster- a single shoulder should do just fine. Tandy sells them, putting them on sale on a regular basis. And as far as dye is concerned, you can also get water based dye these days too. You'll want to also use a sealer- a clear coat that goes over top, after the piece has been made up and dyed.

You might try the forums at [url]www.leatherworker.net[/url] for info.

#7 CapsuleCorp on 7 years ago

The technique you're thinking of is wet-forming or, yes, also called boiling sometimes. It involves hot water and stretching over a mold. If you don't want to mold it by pinning it directly over your gun/weapon and leaving it to dry (it can take 24 hours or more), consider getting a block of wood or something similar, cut into shape.

I've done it before and it's ridiculously easy. Most people are afraid of wet-forming leather because it sounds scary and complicated but it's shockingly not. But for a holster, you want a scrap of chap hide or tooling side. If it's already dyed, some of the dye will come out in the water, so it's better if you start with an undyed (vegetable tanned) leather and dye and seal it after wet-forming.

#8 ExSoldier-Cloud on 7 years ago

[QUOTE=Penlowe;4284402]Saddle leather is generally what that type of leather is called. no, I've never worked with anything that heavy. dyeing leather is pretty easy, leather dyes are alcohol based and you more or less just paint them on with a dauber then give it plenty of time to set. a rough surface is also reasonably easy (it's getting it shiny that is harder).

Saddle leather is nearly always hand sewn, because machines that can sew that are highly
specialized, it's not something I'd attempt even with my heavy duty machine.[/QUOTE]

First of all thanks for the reply; I’ll be sure to look up some info on saddle leather and where to get it. Well, I need this shape to be sewn, I’ll figure out how that is gonna work; I usually just test out certain fabrics with my sewing machine. But thanks for the info, I really appreciate it!



[QUOTE=char99char;4284471]Maybe try a search on youtube for "how to make a holster" to get some ideas. Holsters use stiff leather to hold the shape - you aren't going to get the exact same effect with what you have. Maybe you could try soaking it in a mix of glue and water before you shape it to reinforce it some.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, actually I had looked some stuff up there, this was the best I found, that used wet molding: [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfjxGNOgv_o&feature=relmfu[/url]. I’ll be sure to try some glue with a practice piece of leather. Thanks for the suggestions, I really appreciate it!



[QUOTE=ShinobiXikyu;4284580]The type of leather was pretty much said before me (leather bends/saddle leather), but, getting leather stiffened, which can apply to most types of leather, not justthose, is done by a technique caled boiling.
No, it doesn't actually involve boiling it. You put it into the shape you want around a mold or frame, and then get it soaking wet and let it dry (a hairdryer helps to speed it up). That makes it permanently stiffened.

If real leather's a bit out of your budget, interfacing and pleather, or a double layer of pleather, or both, also works pretty well to get the "Stiff" leather look. Thouh if you're only making a holster, you can get a hide for pretty cheap.[/QUOTE]

So I can also use upholstery leather as well? If so, that’s great…’cause that’s all I got, haha. Anyways, yeah I actually read about that, just soaking it in warm water. Actually, what I’m making is this: [url]http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&global=1&q=cloud+masterpiece+arts#/d187vft[/url] . So, I’m hoping it won’t be difficult to make, the sewing is what I’m really worried about. But thanks for the info!



[QUOTE=Amanita;4284636]You don't even need a whole hide for a holster- a single shoulder should do just fine. Tandy sells them, putting them on sale on a regular basis. And as far as dye is concerned, you can also get water based dye these days too. You'll want to also use a sealer- a clear coat that goes over top, after the piece has been made up and dyed.

You might try the forums at [url]www.leatherworker.net[/url] for info.[/QUOTE]

First off, thanks for the reply. The link is really informative, I actually found a pretty wet molding tutorial: [url]http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=19782[/url]

I think I’m probably gonna need a whole hide for what I’m making: [url]http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&global=1&q=cloud+masterpiece+arts#/d187vft[/url]. But I have a question about the sealer; will it make the leather shine?



[QUOTE=CapsuleCorp;4284963]The technique you're thinking of is wet-forming or, yes, also called boiling sometimes. It involves hot water and stretching over a mold. If you don't want to mold it by pinning it directly over your gun/weapon and leaving it to dry (it can take 24 hours or more), consider getting a block of wood or something similar, cut into shape.

I've done it before and it's ridiculously easy. Most people are afraid of wet-forming leather because it sounds scary and complicated but it's shockingly not. But for a holster, you want a scrap of chap hide or tooling side. If it's already dyed, some of the dye will come out in the water, so it's better if you start with an undyed (vegetable tanned) leather and dye and seal it after wet-forming.[/QUOTE]

First off, thanks for the reply. And yes I am! Yeah, I’m not making a gun holster but this: [url]http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&global=1&q=cloud+masterpiece+arts#/d187vft[/url]. So maybe a block of wood…would (lol) be good for this project. As for the leather I have, it’s already dyed black, so I guess I may have to dye it again---but thanks for the correct terminology. I really appreciate all the advice!

#9 Amanita on 7 years ago

yeah, you might need a tooling side. I think those are on sale at Tandy Leather Factory this month.

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