I have long been interested in "outdated" things or in more traditional, classic ways.
Shaving with a brush and razor has been a recent addition to my interests. Meanwhile, leather working has been a passion of mine for some, two years now. Today, I thought I would combine a couple of passions of mine into this Instructable.
Now it is true, one can purchase travel brushes, and there wouldn't be anything wrong with that at all! But today we're going to work with what we already have; a full size brush, and make a custom leather travel case that is sure to last as long as the art of wet shaving, and leather work combine!
What's that? You have a beard or don't shave with a shave brush? Well, you're in luck! Whether or not you shave with a brush and razor (or at all), you can still follow this Instructable to make a great leather case to house whatever you like!
We´ll go all the way from pattern to finished product!
Step 1: Gather Your Tools!
Firstly, let's make certain we have the tools we need, for any new leather workers out there, I'll include links to Tandy so you can quick reference any tools you don´t have!
Secondly, if you don´t know how to saddle stitch, here is a good video on the subject (skip to minute 3)
You're going to need:
- A good ruler (cork-backed stainless steel are excellent for leather working)
- A cutting utensil, such as a strait trim knife, or utility knife (I use both!)
- A Diamond Blade Stitching Awl, like this one
- A V-Gouge
- A French Edge
- A Stitching Groover
- A Stitching Wheel/Marker (5 stitches per inch is ideal)
- Punches (We will use size: 3.5mm, or respective to your hardware)
- Snaps and Snap Setter
- Leather Adhesive
- Harness Needles (Size: small)
- Waxed, Polyester Sewing thread (I am using #150 from speedy stitcher)
- Full Grain Pigskin (for lining)
- A Full Grain Leather (Because we are going to be Box stitching, you will need to select a hide that is relatively thick, I am using 4.0mm
- A pen!
- Sturdy Pliers
- A Scratch Awl
- A Wood Burnisher
- Circle template
- A French Curve
- A ruled cutting mat is very helpful, especially when measuring!
Now that we have everything, let´s get under way!
Step 2: Sizing Up Your Brush and Razor
This next step is the most important if you´re along for the Shaving Brush and Razor aspect of this Instructable. We need to figure out the dimensions of our brush and razor, everything we do from here depends on those measurements as not all brushes and razors measure the same!
Grab your ruler and measure out the:
- Length of the brush and razor
- Width of the handle of the brush and razor head
- The width of the brush loft (the bristles above the handle) and the width of the razors head (represented by the diagonal line)
Take the Length of the Razor head and the Width of the brush handle and add them together and round up, this is the width of your case, respectively. I added another 0.5cm to mine for a little extra breathing room.
Now if your brush has a little inset part as mine does, measure it (I used string)
Lay that string out on your ruler, and take that measurement and divide it by 3
Step 3: Mapping Out Your Pattern
Regardless of what numbers you came up with, do to your respective shaving tools, follow the basic design of the pattern, as this case will be all one piece, but let me explain using my numbers:
Fig. 1 and 2
- The width of the case has been determined by the Razor and Brush widths (plus the little extra I added for breathing room) so it´s 8.5 cm
- The Length of the case has been decided by the length of the brush (being longer than the razor): 11 cm
- The depth of the case has been decided by the width of the loft (again, the part visible above the handle)
- So, from bottom of the pattern to the top it will lay out like this: Front of case, Bottom of case, Back of case, Sides of case, Lid, and an additional 5cm (Front Flap) to service the closing of the lid, if we had merely kept it at 6cm, the lid would sit on the top, with no way of closing by the method we´re using here (a snap!)
Fig. 3, 4 and 5. The closing flap:
(Note: This step is for style only, if you are content with a square front flap, cut out your pattern and skip to the next step)
Take that extra 5 cm part at the top and divide it in half, here is your starting point for working in any stylized front flap. Break out your French Curve and decide what you think looks best. I recommend using a pencil here, because you may erase it several times before deciding what you want.
Go ahead and cut out your pattern once everything is squared away!
Step 4: Making the Brush and Razor Rest Pattern
Now, if you are following this Instructable just to make a cool case, skip this step (But still check out the final photo!). Otherwise, let´s continue!
Measure out a rectangle with your width and depth measurements (for these measurements, 8.5cm x 6cm) and cut this out
Divide it in half by length and width
Now, find the center of each of these smaller rectangles
We are now going to offset the brush and razor slots so they do not sit in the exact middle of the case, Divide 6cm by 3cm and we get 2cm, which will be our offset. Note: Don´t forget to label which side is which.
Fig. 5 and 6
Now, I have a circle template that I used, so I merely took my figure from earlier, and found a 2.5cm diameter circle, and placed it on the line. The razor´s handle was much easier, I just worked my way down the line until I found a circle it fit in!
If you don´t have a template, fear not, you can still measure out a great circle because: You have all the numbers you need.
Now just cut it out.
We're looking good!
You should now be able to fold it up, and with the help of a little tape, you can see that our case pattern is looking pretty sweet. Okay, onto the fun stuff.
Step 5: Cut Out Your Leather!
This step is where all your math has finally paid off, let´s get cutting!
Reminder!: Make certain you have a fresh blade in your utility knife and/or your knife is sharp!
Note: Take it slowly, especially when cutting, and as my dad always say´s: "measure twice, cut once."
Fig. 1 and 2
Lay out your pattern on the Flesh side (i.e. not the finished, shiny, "leather looking" side) and using either a pen or a scratch awl (I have to use a scratch awl because the hide I am working with is too oily for pens) You now have your outline, ready to cut!
Hold your ruler down firmly and scour the line over and over again until you cut all the way through, again take it slow.
Fig. 4: Onto the lining:
There are a couple of way´s you can do this,
- Place adhesive on what you have just cut out, and stick it directly to the FLESH SIDE of the pig skin, then use your main leather as the pattern to cut out the lining. Or,
- Cut a mirroring pattern (as I have done above) and adhere the two pieces that way.
Note: Don´t cut the front flap "style" out on the lining (as I started to do, hah!) you will save yourself some trouble if you cut this out all together.
Step 6: Cut Out Your Brush and Razor Rest
(If you are just going to make a leather case, skip this step)
Fig. 1 and 2
Lay out your template on your main leather. You will need one on the Grain Side and one on the Flesh Side. Cut these out
Adhere them together and weigh them down allowing them to dry completely
Note: Although I used Echo weld here, I would recommend a stronger leather bonding adhesive.
Once dry, round off the back two corners (the ones nearest your brush and razor) and set this aside for the time being, we will pick it up again later.
Step 7: Blade Pocket
Now, a travel case is only really helpful if you have some place to put blades as well, so we are going to add one!
I may be mistaken, but I believe most, if not all blade boxes are the same dimensions, in any case, take the lining you cut out earlier and on the bottom most portion (the 11cm long, "front" part) and keep it handy, this is what we will attach our blade pocket to. Flip it over so that you can see the lines you drew on the flesh side earlier.
Cut a 5cm x 8.5cm rectangle out of your lining leather, and divide it into 3rds, placing the box on the middle 3rd.
Next, divide the 5 cm edge in half, and make a mark on the flesh side.
Divide the 8.5 cm line in half and then at that mark, measure 1 cm away, and line up your pocket´s mark with the mark you just made. Cut a 5 cm line at this point. This is where we will fit the pocket in. (see figure 4.) On the long edge of the pocket, find the half way mark, and from there draw a 1 cm line down, make a V cut here, it can be as wide or as narrow as you´d like.
Flip the liner over (grain side up, now) and slide your pocket in, about 1 cm (give or take, you will have excess)
Fig 5 and 6
Measure 0.4 cm off from the cut for your stitches, and mark out your stitches
Make your stitching holes
Saddle stitch all your marks and tie off on the flesh side. Repeat Figures 5-8 on the other side.
Step 8: Mark Your Stitches
(If you are only making a case, skip Figure 1 and 2.)
Line up the top edge of the brush handle with the top edge of the case.
Turn the case over, grain side up, and using the measurement you just took, draw a line strait across.
Measure 0.4 cm all the way around the entire case and set your stitching grooves.
Using your stitching wheel, mark out your stitches all the way around, then using your stitching awl, punch your stitches
Hold the brush and razor support, and line it up with the stitch marks. Using your stitching awl, go through the holes and stick the support, just enough to leave a mark on the edge.
Flip the support over, and at an angle and pierce back through the marks you've just made.
Cut the tracks for the brush and razor.
Step 9: Gouging, Lining and Installing Snaps
V-Gouge along the lines from your pattern earlier where your leather needs to bend at a 90 degree angle.
Fig. 2 and 3
Measure 1.5-2cm from the edge of the front flap and measure the same distance on the front panel, punch holes and install your snaps
Fig. 4 and 5
Miter the flesh side edge of the sides and bottom (see fig. 5: follow only white lines).
Note: If you are not making a brush and razor case, miter both the White and Red lines, on the flesh side edge!
Glue the flesh sides of the liner and main leather, apply pressure until the two halves are dry. Once dry, trim any excess and cut the front flap into whatever style you chose earlier.
Step 10: Box Stitching and Finishing Your Case
(For those unfamiliar with box stitching, here is a good video on the subject, skip to minuet 25 for the actual procedure.)
Box stitch the parts you mitered in the last step, and then use a normal saddle stitch for the rest. The stitches will help to hold the liner in place (and it looks good as well!).
Once you've finished the box stitch, pass your threads between the layers and tie them off, you can then stuff them back between the layers to conceal them.
Notice the edges are flared out, the brush and razor support will draw these together
Now you are going to attach the brush and razor rest. You will need three times as much thread as you normally would do to the extra material you will be stitching through.
Once you have stitched everything together... you're done!
If you have a wood burnisher, now is the time to shine up those edges!
Note: The open gaps on the front are part of the design. Since shave brushes need to be hung upside down and air dried, this design allows air to continue to dry the brush even while in the case.
Thank-you so much for reading!