Introduction: Blacksmith's Wrist Cuff / Custom Bracer
Third Prize in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016
I'm a maker.
In this Instructable, I'm going to show you how I made my Blacksmith's Wrist Cuff / Custom Bracer.
I made a video about this build. You can watch it here :
With very few simple tools, you can make your own, in just a few hours.
You will need:
- a design you like (you can pick one for free from the Internet),
- some vegetable tanned leather
- some suede
- leather dye (You can obtain better results if you use two colors or more to add some contrast to your bracer)
- two buckles
- thread and needles
So, let's get started.
Step 1: Choose Your Design and Trace It
- First you will have to choose your design. You can draw your own, or choose one from the Internet. The most important is to re-size it to fit the size of your bracer. The pattern for the bracer is easy to draw by yourself. Just measure your wrist and your forearm and draw two parallels lines according to your size. Connect the lines and you're good to go.
- Then, use some tracing film to copy your design. Take your time and don't forget any details. Use a simple but sharp pencil. No need to invert the drawing for this step, you will use the same side of the tracing film on the leather itself.
Step 2: Cut Your Leather and Trace the Stitching Lines
- Cut your vegetable tanned leather to you wrist size. This step is critical to obtain a perfect fit of the final product. So measure carefully. The length of your bracer depends on your tastes and chosen design. Use a utility knife or a round knife, even a scalpel will do. Once again, take your time and using a ruler is a good way to get perfectly straight cuts.
- Wet your leather with clear water. Use a regular sponge or a cotton cloth.
- Use your groover to set the stitching lines. I recommend at least 5mm spacing between these lines and the edge of the bracer.
Step 3: Trace Your Design
- First, you will have to put some self sticking shelf liner under your leather. It will prevent any deformation of your leather when you will be carving it. If you don't have it, you can use blue tape. Then position your tracing film on your wet leather and carefully retrace the design on your tracing film with a ballpoint stylus or a modeling tool. You can tape your tracing film down to your table and thereby keep it from moving. Don't forget any spot. There is no need to apply to much pressure but you can add some water on the leather from time to time if needed. It makes this step much easier.
- Then you can take the tracing film off and store it. You may want to use it for another creation later.
Step 4: Bevelling
- Now your design is traced into your wet leather it's time to cut it following the lines you drew earlier. You can use an utility knife for this step but I recommend a swivel knife as the perfect tool for this job. Once again take your time don't forget anything and wet your leather if needed.
- Now use a B200 or B201 beveler tool (or, if you don't have one, a modeling tool) to create a bevel inside or outside the lines of your design. Keep in mind that this step is a lot easier when the leather is quite wet. Don't hesitate to add water as the leather dries. This step with create texture into your leather. This is called "carving leather" or "cuir repoussé". There is a lot of tutorials about it and it's not as hard as it seems. But it requires a little bit of practice so try it on a little piece of leather before trying to carve a big piece.
Step 5: Dying Your Design
- Ok the hardest part is done! Congratulations! Now let's add some colors. I used water based leather dye. My color are Black and Red so, that's the colors I chose for this bracer. I recommend to use at least two colors to create some contrast on your work. You will need a thin brush to apply the dye. As your leather may still be wet the dye may dissolve a little bit into the leather. So try to start in the center between the lines or wait until the leather is dry. Paint light colors first then dark ones last.
- And don't forget to dye the edges of your piece too.
Step 6: Prepare the Back of the Piece
- Now you can take the self sticking shelf liner and work on the back of your piece. I like to apply some leather finish to smooth the back before gluing it's not necessary though and you can glue it the way it is. It's quicker and cheaper. But if you want to use some burnishing gum for leather. I use it for the back or the edges of my leather creations and it works great. You can use a brush or apply by hand as I did. Everything works.
Step 7: Apply Some Finish
- As I said before you can now use some burnishing gum to smooth the edges.
- Then apply some nourishing oil to soften the leather and make the color of the dye look better. It will darken the colors a little bit but the result will be a lot more satisfying.
Step 8: Make It Comfortable
- Time to glue your piece on some suede. Once again you have multiple choices here. Crazy glue works great and it's cheap. Leather contact adhesive works very well too. Most important is to apply the right amount and all over your piece.
- Make sure your leather sticks to the suede. You can use a roller to flatten the piece and make the glue stick well. But if you don't have one simply use the side of a round mallet. It works too.
Step 9: Stiching Holes
- For opening the stitching holes I used a size 4 diamond hole punch. Just follow the line you made earlier with your groover. Use the last hole you opened to align the punch for the next holes. Make sure to open the hole through both leather and suede.
Step 10: Stiching
- Now, some hand stitching. I used a thread the same color of one part of the bracer. But as colored thread is hard to find or expensive I made my own with white thread and some leather dye. Put a little bit of dye in a glass and dip your thread in it for ten minutes. Take it out and let it dry. A simple double knot will end your stitching.
Step 11: Cut the Excess Material
- Now you can cut the excess material if there is some. Trim the suede to the leather's size.
- To have a better finish, I applied some water resistant acrylic resin leather lacquer gloss to make the leather smooth and shiny. I generally apply it twice with a little brush for better results.
Step 12: Making the Buckle Straps
- Ok, you're almost done. Keep up the good work ! All you need to do now, is to make the straps for the buckles and the final assembly. For the buckles straps, you just have to repeat the step we've just been through. First, make a simple pattern, cut the leather and trim the edge.
Step 13: Repeating Some Steps
- Open some holes to the buckles prong to go through. Use a groover to put some stitching lines into the leather then open holes with the same punch you used earlier.
Step 14: Finishing the Buckle Straps
- Since I used two different dyes I decided to dye the back and the front of these parts with the two colors I used for the main design. So red for the back and black for the front. With the red thread I thought it would make the design of the bracer more complete.
Step 15: Final Assembly
- Before stitching position the parts on your main piece and use a needle to punch some tiny holes. You will use it to position your diamond hole punch on the right place.
Step 16: Enjoy Your Work!
- And once your final stitching is done you've got an awesome custom bracer! Congratulations!
- Now you can try it and enjoy your work. Well done!
Step 17: My Video
Here is the video I made about this build.
I hope it will help you to understand all the steps and how I did it.
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See you soon!
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