Introduction: A Leather "Fly" Swatter

About: we enjoy working for habitat for humanity.volunteering at our state park.and participating with our leather guild instructing 4H groups, home schoolers,scouts and other young people interested in leather work.

     The season is getting later and the flies seem to be getting more prevalant.  I decided that I needed a new fly swatter.  This seemed to be the perfect design.  Not only do I think it is a good design, it is functional.  
     There is very little leather carving to this project and could be done by a novice.

Step 1: Leather "fly" Swatter


     2 pieces of 3/4 ounce carving leather 9 by 7 inches

     2 pieces of 3/4 ounce leather 2 by 14 inches

     1 piece of window sash trim 12 inches long or any narrow and thin piece of wood

     Contact cement  I use weldwood

     Acrylic Paint  various colors

     Black antique finish that hs been thinned with Tan Coat

     Finish coat - tan coat  or finish of choice

Step 2: Leather "Fly" Sweatter



     Tracing paper

     Tracing tool  a pen or pencil can be used

     Swivel Knife

     Modeling tool    

     Beveler # 203

     Edger # 2

     Hole punch #3


     Sand Paper and /or dremal 

     Bone Folder


     paint brushes- small

     Bowl with water


Step 3: Leather "Fly" Swatter

     I had a friend draw me an enlarged picture of a fly.  I then transferred the design onto tracing film. Dampen the leather, and place the film onto one  of the 9x7 pieces of leather.  Trace the pattern onto the leather.  Turn the pattern over  and copy the pattern on the second piece of 9x7 leather.  This will give you a mirror image so that the pieces will match when you go to put them together. Only mark the places for the holes on one side of the pattern.

Step 4: Leather "Fly" Swatter

     Using the swivel knife cut all lines except the vein lines in the wings.  

Step 5: Leather Fly" Swatter

     Take the # 203 beveler and bevel around the outside of the entire pattern, including the head.  You also need to bevel on the outside of the eyes and around the outside of the heart shaped area behind the head.  You need to bevel both fly patterns.   Do not bevel the veins in the wings with the beveler.  Using the modeling tool, press hard along each vein line. Take the swivel knife and make cross hatch lines in the eyes.  Most of the beveling that was done, was to make the pattern easier to cut out. With a knife or a scapel, cut the two fly pieces out.

Step 6: Leather "Fly Swatter

     Before we glue the body of the fly together we need to thin the leather.  The part we will be thinning is the triangular part below the head.  If I were a better leather worker we would use a skiving tool.  I use a dremal with a sanding wheel.  Sand the area as thin as possible.  Take care not to sand clear through the leather and ruin the swatter. Take the handle and mark where it will fit into the swatter.  I like to place it about half way into the heart shaped area behind the head.Mark around this with a pencil down to where the triangle starts.  

Step 7: Leather "Fly" Swatter

     Take both swatter parts and place them with the rough sides out.  Brush on the contact cement over the backs in a thin coat. REMEMBER NOT TO PUT GLUE WHERE YOU MARKED FOR THE HANDLE OR THE TRIANGULAR PART.  Follow the directions on the can for how to use.  My contact cement says to let it get to a tacky stage and then put together.
     This cement is toxic and should be used in a well ventilated area.
     Line up the two pieces as closely as possible and glue down.  You want to be fairly accurate because this glue can be difficult to move.  Press all areas firmly to obtain good contact.  After the glue has set well, using the knife trim all areas that do not match perfectly.
This also a good time to square the bottom of the triangular piece about one inch below the antennae. 
     Use the #2 edger and go around the entire swatter on both sides.  Because of all the tight curves, I chose to hand sand all of the edges.  After sanding dampen the edges and using the bone folder smooth the edges.
     Now is a good time to punch the holes in the swatter.  Without nthe holes the swatter is not functional.

Step 8: Leather "Fly" Swatter

       This step is the preparation for the handle.  I took the window sash and rounded one end with the dremal.  The other end I sanded to a point about 1 1/2 inches back.
     Take one  of the 2x14 pieces of leather and using an old brush cover the back side of the leather with the contact cement.  Follow the directions on the can for using.  Also coat one side of the stick with the glue.  Do NOT glue the pointed end of the stick at this time NOTE:  THIS GLUE IS TOXIC AND SHOULD BE USED IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA.  After the glue feels tacky, place the glued side of the handle down the center of the leather.  Repeat the process on the other piece of leather and the other side of the handle.
     Take the modeling tool and press firmly right next to the window sash.  Take extra care to get firm contact in all areas especially at the rounded edge. 
     There will be excess leather on the edges.  Mark about 1/8 to 3/16ths of an inch from the wooden sash.  We used a straight edge then to keep a straight line on the edge.  At the rounded edge we free handed the cut.  Using the dremal or sand paper, smooth the edges.  Dampen the edges and take the bone folder and smooth the edges.
     Use the dremal or sand paper and thin down the leather at the pointed end.  This will help lessen the thickness of the leather where the handle and swatter come together.

Step 9: Leather "Fly" Swatter

      Using a brush, spread the glue into the area for the handle.  Also glue both sides of the handle that will be going inside the swatter. REMEMBER THAT THIS GLUE IS TOXIC AND SHOULD BE USED IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA  Push the handle into the swatter.  Use the modeling tool and press firmly over the entire area that was glued so that good contact is made.  After the glue is dry, trim off all excess leather and finish the edge where the two pieces come together.

Step 10: Leather "Fly" Swatter

      This step is optional, but I thought it added a good dimension to the project.
      I chose to color my swatter, but it can be left the natural color of the leather or antiqued.  I took Fieblings black antique and diluted it about 50/50 with Tan Kote.  This makes the antique less dark and it goes on smoother.  After coating the entire swatter and handle, I took a damp paper towel and lightly wiped over the entire project.  I took black acrylic and painted the head,heart, rear part, eyes and the veins in the wings.  I then put forest green on the head, rear, and heart part and blended it in with my finger.  To get the sort of iridescent shade I had a product by Golden called Permanent Green Light that I also blended  in with my finger.  Flys have a lot of light receptors in their eyes and to indicate that, I took toothpicks and dipped them in different colors and dotted them over the eyes. After all paint was dry, I gave it a light coat of Tan Coat to protect the leather.

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