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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > vegtable tanned leather for grip wrap? Reply to topic
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2007 12:56 pm    Post subject: vegtable tanned leather for grip wrap?         Reply with quote

I am starting to experiment with grip wraps (on a walking stick hand hold area.) All I have at the moment is thin (about 0.8 mm) calf skin. I am wondering if this is acceptable, or if proper material must have more stretch (fresh goat skin, chamois, etc.)

Also, I have thought of obtaining and using hide glue to make runs and squeeze out less noticeable than might be with wood glue. I notice on the Albion articles that the leather being applied to the grip area is very wet looking (making me suspect it is largely a shrink fit approach.)

I have read many of the previous posts and workshop notes below. They all seem to utilize chamois.

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_bench_ws_estoc.html

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_antique.php
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5822
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=3808
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1814

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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2007 3:03 pm    Post subject: Re: vegtable tanned leather for grip wrap?         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I am starting to experiment with grip wraps (on a walking stick hand hold area.) All I have at the moment is thin (about 0.8 mm) calf skin. I am wondering if this is acceptable, or if proper material must have more stretch (fresh goat skin, chamois, etc.)

Also, I have thought of obtaining and using hide glue to make runs and squeeze out less noticeable than might be with wood glue. I notice on the Albion articles that the leather being applied to the grip area is very wet looking (making me suspect it is largely a shrink fit approach.)


If what you have is veg tanned calfskin, and not split cowhide, then IMO you have the right material for the job.

It only really needs to stretch enough to mold around the contours of the cord wrap which it should to plenty well enough if you get it damp. You probably don't want it soaking wet just immerse it flesh-side up until bubbles stop coming out and pat it between paper towels to remove the excess water.

The other thing I'd say is get a properly sharp knife to skive the edge down with. I mean really [i]really[\i] sharp. When you're skiving thin leather any drag will pull the leather out of shape.

If you're using hide glue, find some way to keep everything warm so it doesn't gell before you've got your wrap done.

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Patrick Fitzmartin





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2007 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Jared Smith, I am a big fan of veg tanned leather. I do spiral grip wraps with it as well as belts, scabbards, sheaths and pouches. Depending on whether it is shoulder, side or belly cut, water and Neatsfoot oil alone will give a nice variety of natural brown tones. It does dye nicely too. Experimentation with moderation will help you see how it responds. Sincerely, Patrick Fitzmartin
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2007 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback. I will describe what I did and show photos of how it worked.

I have applied it and will post results in 2 days. This was belly cut, 1-2 oz weight calf leather, bought from Siegel of California.

I dyed it with Fiebings "British Tan" last night, then gave this a go just now.

I stuck the piece in warm water (uncomfortable to place hands in but not boiling) for about 3 minutes and toweled it off, then let it set about 10 minutes. Yellow wood glue is what I have now, so that is it for this try.

For cord I am just using Sisal hemp bailing cord as this is a trial attempt. The hardware store variety is pretty rough (diameter varies a lot and it needs a hair cut to trim loose fibers after wrapping it.) I lightly brushed wood glue over the sisal cord on the wood before applying the leather over it.

I will have to get a good skiving knife. What I had was a square point Hyde knife (antique.) To compensate I used some sand paper on the flesh side to help even out the job.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Mar, 2007 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It turned out well enough that my son (it's his scout staff) is pleased. I think this demonstrates that an acceptable sword grip can be done with fine calf skin and some further practice.

For a nice quality sword grip I think the leather could stand a repeated soaking or immersion within warm water to further soften it. A higher quality grade of stiff hemp, smaller in diameter than what I bought at the hardware store would be my preference. Locating a stiff cord suited for the job seems to be the primary challenge!

Thanks for the inputs.



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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Mar, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
It turned out well enough that my son (it's his scout staff) is pleased. I think this demonstrates that an acceptable sword grip can be done with fine calf skin and some further practice.

For a nice quality sword grip I think the leather could stand a repeated soaking or immersion within warm water to further soften it. A higher quality grade of stiff hemp, smaller in diameter than what I bought at the hardware store would be my preference. Locating a stiff cord suited for the job seems to be the primary challenge!

Thanks for the inputs.


Looks good, I like the bird Big Grin

I think the overall effect would be vastly imporoved by using better cord. Linen would be my pick, but that's just me. FWIW, the grip on my Albion Knight averages about 1 cord per mm of grip. Heavy linen shoe/mattress repair thread would work well. If you have a saddlers nearby they may sell it. Be wary of polyester sold as linen though, I've come across that before Mad

Repeated soaking won't do anything to soften the leather, at least it shouldn't. It may even have the reverse effect if you end up washing tannins out of the leather. Be careful immersing it in too warm water, if you get it hot it will shrink and harden. It will be at it's softest immersed in room temperature water for around 24 hours. Once it drys out again it should be as firm, or firmer than it was pre-soaking.

After the grip is built applying some fat or wax would probably be a good idea. A mixture of beeswax and tallow or olive oil works wonders and doesn't tend to dry out like neatsfoot oil (which these days is a petrochemical based product that has never been anywhere near leftover bits of horse).

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Greyson Brown




Location: Windsor, Colorado
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PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2007 11:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks good. I really like that English Tan color.

Some of the links in your first post were of grips that I did. I did use chamois, but that was mostly because I did not want to spend a lot of money for something that I was learning to do. The calf skin is much preferable, while still being a lot more affordable than goat.

One suggestion; I like to fold over the leather (to the inside) at top and bottom so that you have a more finished look to those spots. Not doing so works fine as well, but you might want to give it a try and see what you think.

-Grey

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Apr, 2007 1:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greyson Brown wrote:


One suggestion; I like to fold over the leather (to the inside) at top and bottom so that you have a more finished look to those spots. Not doing so works fine as well, but you might want to give it a try and see what you think.

-Grey


I respect and appreciate your advise. I have actually copied the texts of those posts and saved them to my hard drive as a Microsoft Word document. I felt obligated to list all of the good instructional posts I was aware of which came before this.

I am very interested in the folding of the edges. I wondered if you skived those as well so that the fold would not be obvious.

In the case of this experiment, I did not wind the full width of the grip with cord underneath. I wanted to the edges of the leather to sort of encase the ends of the cord wrap underneath. The idea was that if someone slid their hands down the wood of the shaft, they would have a gentle transition (slight recess) when the hand slid over the leather area. This would not work for a sword grip unless a groove were made in the grip just before the guard and pommel areas where the leather could recess. I suspect the fold is something of an opposite... the leather curves up towards the larger shapes of the furniture?

P.S. The English Tan Fiebings has become something of a personal favorite. If you can use a wadded up pad of cloth to apply it, you can achieve a range of effects ( distressed light brown campaign worn if you soak the surface with alcohol first and go light on application.. or deep dye it to nearly an Ox Blood Red. Using it combinations with other brown shades, applied before the British Tan, will enable you to blend the result to match just about any brown color.)

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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Apr, 2007 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did not skive the top and bottom edges, but it might be a good idea if you are using a stiffer leather, like pigskin.

You have a good point about the hands' transition along the length of the staff and the effect that hilt furniture has on a sword grip. Folding the edges might not be as helpful on something like this.

-Grey

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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