Introduction: Leather Bow Case

About: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I happen to need at the time. Lipstick, a mixing studio, all-pur…

The world of double bass players who need a special protective case for their bows is rarefied -- but this long, skinny, tough leather case can be adapted for other uses: architects can use it to carry plans, artists can roll up their sketches... Or use it as an unusual purse -- and the best thing about it? No sewing, and no special leather tools required.

I will not be giving a pattern or specific dimensions in this instructable because you can make this case in any size, depending on your needs or the materials you use. Instead I will just show you how this one was made so you can adopt the techniques or simply get inspiration for your unique project. (and don't forget to leave me an "I made it!" comment and photo -- I LOVE those)

Step 1: Find Your Leather

You will need a good, thick leather for this project -- the type used to make furniture is perfect, because it it soft but also nice and thick.

For many years I had a wonderful beige leather sofa, which had become so tattered that I had to replace it. Yet in spite of the prominent worn leather and rips, there was plenty of beautiful leather in the back. Before hauling my beloved sofa to the street I stripped it of every square inch of usable leather, rolled it up and saved it... then a few months later, I needed this leather case...

If you don't happen to have a ratty old piece of leather furniture, carry a box knife with you when you go out for walks on garbage day. You'd be surprised, once you start looking, how often people throw out pieces which are made with perfectly good and easily re-usable material.

Step 2: The Tube Structure

I am fortunate enough to live in an apartment building with neighbors who use interesting boxes. I found this solid tube in the basement, and grabbed it. This is much heavier and more sturdy than ordinary shipping tubes.

This cardboard tube was so thick I could not use a box cutter: I used a hack saw to cut two notches near the ends of the tube, then a jig saw to cut the lengths of the lid. It was important that the case would open along the length of the tube rather than at the end, both for ease of use and to avoid banging the bow around as it goes in and out of the case.

Step 3: Making the Leather Pattern

Rather than cut the leather directly, I made a paper pattern.

Measure the length and the circumference of your tube. One side of the pattern should be equal to the circumference of the tube, but you should add an extra 2 inches in length so you can wrap the leather around the 2 edges.

Use my pattern to guide your placement of the slots for the lid and for the hand and lids straps.

Step 4: The Interior

The body of the tube-case has three layers of 1/4" foam:

The first payer is a narrow strip to fill out the round shape, which I glued to the bottom.

The second layer included a cut-out for a small box of rosin, and before gluing it to the first layer I lined it with fabric, which I stitched into place (the "no-sew" in my intro refers to sewing leather...). The fabric is fairly heavy upholstery fabric.

The the third layer holds the bow in place. After tracing the bow on my foam I cut out its shape. I stitched a piece of silk to the bottom of that cut-out foam, then when I placed the lined foam in the body of the tube I tucked in the silk and the glued it on the cardboard interior and over the rim (using a very small amount of glue on the interior where the silk would be visible.

The lid interior is also filled with foam, and is held in place with the same upholstery fabric as I used under the bow.

Step 5: The Exterior

I topped off the ends of the tube with standard plastic covers, but padded the interior first with foam, then lined it with a scrap of fabric. Then I squeezed the lined lids on the ends of the tube, secured them in place with duck tape, and used contact cement to glue a small circle of leather to cover the plastic.

Rather than ruin a perfectly good paintbrush with the contact cement glue, I used a rubber band to attach a rag to the end of a dowel (you could use a pencil too). Quick, easy and cheap.

After threading both leather handles and the two lid clasps through the slots on the leather cover, I painted rubber cement on the card board tube lid, and glued the big leather piece to the lid first. Then I applied glue to the body of the case, carefully positioned the lid in place and rolled on the leather.

As you can see in the picture, I then rolled the leather over the rim and clamped it with regular office clips till the glue set.

Step 6: The Straps

The lid is held closed with two simple straps with snaps, which were threaded through slots on the main piece of leather before gluing to the tube.

The hand straps are also threaded through slots in the leather, and since I didn't have the right tools to sew leather, they are also held together with snaps.

The shoulder strap itself could be made with matching leather, but since I happened to have a ready-made strap left over from an old broken bag, I didn't bother.

To attach the shoulder strap to the case I used regular, off the shelf hardware (an eye, a large washer and a nut). I drilled a small hole through the leather and card board tube to push the eye through, and hacked off the bottom with my dremel tool to make it shorter. Since I made this case (almost 2 years ago) I've only had to tighten the nuts once, in spite of very rugged daily use by an inattentive middle schooler.

If you like this project, check out my paper designs on my website

Leather Contest

Participated in the
Leather Contest

Epilog Contest VII

Participated in the
Epilog Contest VII