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Leather Cellphone Holster

leather cellphone holster.

First of all I would like you to know that english is not my native language, so there may be some spelling and syntax errors in this instructable.
If there are any questions please ask, and I will try to explain what I mean.

This instructable shows you how to make a vegetable tanned leather cellphone holster.

The pattern included is for a smartphone with a 5" screen, most brands with the 5" screen will fit this holster.
If you are the owner of a cellphone with a different size, it is quite easy to change the size of the pattern.
Simply open the JPEG version in a graphic program and change the size, and print it.
The included JPEG is on A4 size (the PDF is also on A4), which is 297 x 210 mm, in inches that is 11,7" x 8,25".

What do you need?

Let's get to work

Cutting and "casing" the Leather

Start by cutting out the pattern from cardboard.
Lay out the 3 pieces on the backside of your piece of leather, and trace the outlines with a sharpie.
Arrange the pattern so that the main piece of the holster, is transferred on the best looking piece of the leather.
Cut out the pieces of leather with the shears or cut them with the utility knife.

The L shaped piece of leather (the insert) should be somewhat thinner than your phone.
In my case that was 4,5 — 5 mm, my phone is 9 mm thick.
So with 6–7 oz leather you will have to cut out 2 L shaped pieces and glue them together with contact cement.
Or if you have it available, take a piece of thick veg tanned leather.

First have to "case" the leather.
This means you have to get it slightly wet, this is because veg-tanned is best tooled when slightly wet.
When damp the leather will be easy to work and will accept all the tooling.

Use a sponge to dampen the leather from the front side, the leather must be damp or slightly wet, it must not be saturated with water or become soggy.
If you do this right, the leather will begin to return to it's original color after some minutes..

When the leather is beginning to return to it's original color it's time for step 2, tracing the pattern.

Tracing the Pattern

First you have to stick some tape to the back of the leather.
This will avoid stretching of the leather when tooling, Scotch heavy duty packing tape gets the job done.

Take a piece of tracing film and trace the Celtic dragon with a sharpie.

Now you have to decide if you want to wear your holster at the left or right side, the instructable is about a holster on your right side, if you want it on your left you have to trace the pattern on the other side.

Now take the traced dragon and put it over your cased leather, arrange it so the dragon is in the right place.
I use a 2 pound lead diving weight wrapped in ducktape to keep everything in place when tracing.
Take the stylus and trace the pattern, don't use too much pressure, you just have to see the lines, nothing more.
When you use a weight to keep everything in place, you can lift the corner of the pattern to see if you traced every line.

When happy go to the next step

Carving the Pattern

The depth of the cuts should be about half the thickness of the leather.
The technique is shown in the video, tilt the knife somewhat back, so you will cut with the point of the blade.
When making corners try not to tilt the knife to the right or left, because this will cause the knife to " undercut" the leather, these cuts which are not "vertical" will show up later after beveling and become visible, which is something you do not want.
If you are new to carving with a swivel knife, it might be a good idea to practice on some scrap pieces of leather.
When finished it is time to stamp the design....


You should start beveling all the cut lines on the "outside" of the pattern.
The stamps used for beveling are the B701 and B702.
The B701 is used in tight corners, the B702 on the longer lines.
Always try to use the biggest stamp possible, because this will give the smoothest beveled lines.
Each imprint of the stamp should be overlapped with at least half of the next imprint, working like this will give you smooth beveled lines. Don't hold the stamp to tight, hold it loosely and let it "bounce back" a little bit after each blow of the mallet. Try to " walk" the stamp. This will give the best results.
Next you should draw the border around the entire piece of leather with the wing divider, the width of the border is about 1/4" or 6mm, after you scratched in the line with the wing divider, cut it with your swivel knife.
After cutting, bevel the border on the inside with beveler B702 .
After all the beveling is finished you should take the modeling spoon
and carefully "backbevel" the design. With this I mean round off any sharp edges in the pattern.

The next step, after all the lines have been beveled, is to use the background and/or matting tools.
The photo shows which areas should be backgrounded, the photo is taken after painting, but this shows best which area's should be stamped to the background.
These are the little area's (triangles and rectangles etc) within the design, these areas can be backgrounded with the A104 and M885, or if you like a finer pattern the A98.
The outside of the pattern can be backgrounded with the M884. In tight spaces tilt the tool so you don't damage your dragon. Be careful, a mistake is easily made with the big M884.
The outside should not be stamped as deep as the little inside background areas.

Next step is resisting.


Resisting is done with a product on a acrylic base.
This acrylic will seal the leather, to make it more or less waterproof. Another reason for resisting is to put a top layer of acrylic on the leather in which the antique gel (next step) will not penetrate.
It is a personal choice if you want your holster glossy or semi matt.
My personal favorite is matt.
The products to use are satin shene (matt) or super shene (glossy).
Another difference between these 2 products is that super shene resists a little better than satin shene.
When you use the gloss finish the overall result will give a little lighter overall color.

The satin (super) shene is best applied in thin layers, it can be applied with cottonballs or a piece of sponge.
3 layers should be applied to get a satisfactory result.
The 2nd layer can be applied 1 hour after the first, the third layer another hour later.
after the 3th layer the holster should be left to dry at least 8–10 hours, until completely dry.

Do the same with the piece of leather for the beltloop.

next, antiquing


Antiquing is done to give your leather that old, used look.
A gel is applied which fills all the cuts and deeper laying areas of your leather, and the remaining on top is wiped off, giving your leather that darkened look.

The product used is Gel antique from Tandy, this is available in different colors.
The color I used for this project is saddle-tan.

Cover your bench with a piece of paper or cardboard, because things are gonna get messy.
It also might be a good idea to use latex gloves if you don't want your fingers painted too, I don't because I cannot work properly with these things on my hands, but that is my problem.

The gel antique is applied on a sponge or piece of sheepskin in a fairly large amount, so you can cover all cuts easily, be sure to get the antique in every cut.
When everything is covered, wipe off the excess with paper towels immediately before it gets a chance to dry.
Do this several times with a clean piece of towel until you are happy with the result.
Also do the piece of leather used for the beltloop.

Let dry for a few hours.

Placing the Belt Loop

With the rotary punch, punch the holes in the cardboard pattern
Use this pattern to mark the holes on your beltloop and holster.
First punch the holes in the belt loop, fold the piece of leather on the marked line and press untill it stays reasonably in shape.
Check if the holes in the beltloop correspond with the marks on the holster.
If everything is OK also punch the holes in the holster.

Take the rivet setter and rivets, and rivet the beltloop in place, see the video how to do this.

Next is stitching

Insert and Stitching Holes

Gluing the insert in place is not a difficult job, but it requires some meticulous measuring.

The insert in this project is one piece of 12oz leather, if you don't have 12oz leather you can make the insert by gluing together 2 pieces of 6oz leather

Fold the holster exactly in the middle and mark that middle with a sharpie, now mark the thickness of the leather insert in that point (see photo)
Fold the insert in place (do not use glue yet) and check if everything is the right size. Check if the short side of the insert is exactly the right length. Correct if necessary.
The long side may be too long, but that can be cut off when everything is glued in place
Now use contact cement to glue the insert in place, one side only.
You can now check again by folding the other side of the holster over (closing it), and see if everthing falls in place.
If everything is OK glue the holster closed with contact cement.

Let it dry.

Now punch the stitching holes.
First mark the stitching line, about halfway the border with the wingdivider.
Now punch the holes. see the video.
I used only a 2 prong chisel, because the project is not too big and I am not in a hurry.
You can use a 6 prong, but I find that in this thickness of leather (about 3/8" or 9,5mm) the 6 prong is rather difficult to remove from the leather.

Next step is stitching


For stitching you need about 2 metres or 2,2 yards of (waxed) woven handstitching thread and 2 harness needles.
Put the thread through the needle, then about 2" from the end stick the needle through the thread and pull it through, and tighten. This way your needle will not come loose during stitching.
See the video how to do this.

Start in the second hole from the end, and stitch back this first stitch.
Now stitch the holster, using the saddle stitch.
How to use the saddle stitch is shown in the video.

In the video I use a stitching pony to keep the holster in place, this is not absolutely necessary but this makes the job a lot easier.
You can also use a workbench vise, a padded one, so you do not damage the leather.
The job can even be done without any kind of vise, but if you plan to do some more stitching, a stitching pony is a very good investment.

next and last step is slicking and finishing.

Edge Slicking and Finishing

Last thing to do is slicking the edges and finishing the project.

For edge slicking I use gum tragacanth.
This kind of glues the fibres of the leather together, and makes the job of slicking easier.
Put on a thin coat of gum tragacanth on the edges of the holster, not too much, just damp is enough.
Now use some pressure and a fast movement with the edge slicker along the edges of the holster.
See the video how to do this.

When all the edges are nice, use a little gel antique to give the edge a nice and even color.
You can also use an edge paint, or edge dressing, but I like the more natural look of the gel antique.
But this is personal, do what you like best.

Let dry for an hour or so.

The last thing to do is give the entire project another thin coat of satin (super) shene.
This is necessary because gel antique is not waterproof, and it may stain your clothes.



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