Whilst carrying a cup of coffee and a suitcase out of my hotel in Seoul recently, I dropped and smashed the carrying case of my Sony Ebook, much to my dismay. There was no repairing it, so I decided that I needed to make a new leather case myself, and, since I have a laser at work, I set to, and made it with that before I went back to Seoul !
The old case and Ebook were perfectly sized for my favourite leather waistcoat - my coat of many pockets which is SO handy when you travel, so I was keen to copy the size and design at first; but having used the naked, and now very slim book on its own, it seemed a shame to lose that, so this time I made a slip case, which will stay in my pocket permanently, and the book slides in and out
Here's the result:
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Step 1: Materials.
Veg tanned leather - the best stuff for this project, as we will be moulding it to shape, this uses a piece about 160mm x 300mm - I used 1.6mm thick, or 1/16" - step 5.
MDF board, same size as Ebook - see step 3 and 7.
Leather working needle and thread. - step 6
...and a laser cutter..... Step 5 !!!
The laser isn't essential, but BOY does it make cutting out easy !
Step 2: In Use..
Here's the book and case slipped into my inner jacket pocket. Its great, because it also helps hold my passport and boarding cards ready for easy finding.
Step 3: Design
The design begins with a very simple model of the book - I was slightly generous on the sizes, to be on the safe side.
I cut a piece of MDF board, to the same dimensions - this will be used later on.
Next, I used my CAD system to draw the case ! My CAD system is called Alibre, and the version I use has some special "sheet metal working" tools....so I designed the case in "sheet metal", but actually cut it in leather - its going to fold in a similar way in the end.
If there's interest, I'll do an 'ible on using Alibre sheet metal, but until then, here' s picture of it.
Alibre sheet metal parts begin as a single flat tab, to which we will attach flanges, and to which flanges in turn we can add more flanges. The clever magic happens when you "drill" holes in the project, not only do the holes line up in the model, but they will line up on the finished project, as Alibre cleverly calculates the bending allowances to make it do so in the developed drawing.
Step 4: Here's the "final" Drawing.
The next step is to tell Alibre to export the sheet metal model to a flat drawing, and to "develop it" - that means that the program will open and flatten all the folds, and work out how the metal has to be bent, or in this case, how the leather has to be bent. The drawing is exported to DXF file (the AutoCAD standard) for the laser system, but it needs some modification first.
The drawing ALSO includes all the "fold lines" that would be used by the sheet metal maker to work out where to place the tools used to make the folds. These needs deleting - I zapped them through CorelDraw and edited them all out in there.
The file is then "laser ready"
Step 5: Laser Cutting
To be honest, laser cutting isn't THAT interesting to watch, unless you get a fire in the machine. This project took around 2 minutes to cut out on a 40 W laser, running at 12mm/second.
Step 6: Finishing:stitching
Finishing consists of first stitching the leather sides together, in the traditional twin needle way - weaving in a figure of 8 up wih one needle, down with another and vice versa, then backstitching the seams to stop the thread unravelling. One side is easy, the other ideally takes two people, one to grip the leather joint, and the other to sew it, that's because the leather for one side is larger than the other and though, finally, it will line up in the project, for now, its a stretch.
Step 7: Finishing:moulding
GMJHowe's excellent instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/Leather-iPod-Touch-Case-using-Water/ will show you the technique for moulding, and how to stitch.
In my case, I soaked the leather, then stuffed the MDF piece I made in step 1, which I wrapped in Saran(cling film) to keep it dry, then stuffed into the wet leather pouch.
I then took a bamboo chopstick, with a pleasing radius and stretched and curved the leather to meet the MDF former, then I placed the whole assembly in a warm room to dry.