Introduction: How (sometimes Not) to Make a Leather Cellphone Slider Case..
I'm living in a part of the world where one cannot go through the day without a cell-phone. We seem hooked to the idea that everyone has to be reachable everywhere all the time.
Needless to say that a small crisis occurs each time the d*mned thing has been misplaced or one realizes too late having left home without it.
In order to attach oneself even more to the rectangular reacher, I built a case for it and yes, I confess, I like leather..
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Step 1: Case Decisions...
As the case was to be a gift to my wife, it had to meet her specifications. After all, you don't want your efforts to end up in a forgotten drawer, do you?
Rule #1: consult your wife/partner!
Rule #2: if you, for some dark, masochistic reason, don't want to consult your wife/partner before you begin your project, I strongly suggest to take another look at rule #1 again!
A simple design was born in my mind:
a small slider case, able to be attached to her paints and strong enough to endure whatever objects might be in her purse when she drownes her phone in there, the poor thing..
Step 2: Design..
At first I intended to surprise her and made a wooden form that matched the dimensions of her phone. This way I could work secretly.
I had a piece of MDF laying around that was almost a perfect match, but you can use other material, of course.
Sometimes it is best to use the actual object that is to be carried in the case, but I didn't have that option at that time.
The "easy" way would have been to wet-mould the front of the case on to a flat back. Wanted to try something different though: she already had a case like that and people tend to like a variation in things from time to time, so I'm told.
The top of the case needed an opening to pull the phone out. Since it had no connections at the bottom, there was no need to design a hole to push it out upwards neither (and less difficult to make as well).
I thought a simple loop at the back would solve the attach-to-paints-problem, so I started construction in all secrecy.
That was my first mistake: I forgot rule #1.
Step 3: Measurement. .
Instead of having a design on paper first (which is always the sensible thing to do) I tried a different approach.
Rolling the form on the leather, imaging how it would come out, I got a good idea about the dimensions I needed and how to proceed from there on.
A plan of attack started to take form.
Where to cut?
To be on the safe side I measured one and a half times the thickness of the form, but that was mere a gut feeling. Turned out all right in the end.
Step 4: Materials..
Working with leather requires some specific needs:
-- at least :
a solid place to work, cutting things can be dangerous..
vegetable tanned leather ( I used thickness 2 mm)..
a sharp knife or scissors, a metal ruler and a writing tool..
a surface that doesn't mind cutting..
something to draw a round or oval shape with..
a cell-phone or a form to replace it..
a round drive punch or rotary punch..
hammer or maul..
rubber cement. .
two needles, thread and sewing awl..
a stitching groover..
an overstitch wheel..
matches or a lighter..
a clean sponge and some water. .
a bone folder..
a clean cloth to shine..
edge beveler and slicker..
-- optional :
a metal stamp and mallet for tooling..
leather dye (I used Saddle Tan Oil Dye) and sealer..
Step 5: Preliminary Construction. .
In order to construct a case out of a piece of leather, there are multiple solutions.
Basically, in this here instructable, the case exists solely of a rectangular piece of leather, one half folded over the other, with a loop at the back for attachment possibilities.
As the case was ment to be a gift, I decided to (try to) give it a special look and started to tool.
I'm not a specialist in tooling and I feared to ruin my project, so that was my first step after cutting the leather.
I tried to keep it as simple as I could as well.
First I dampened the grain side with a wet sponge resulting in a change of color.
Then I waited for the original color to reappear and stamped a figure with a basket stamp and added an edge with a veiner stamp. Nothing fancy - less is more.
Next I punched two holes and extended them outwards. That would assist in folding the pieces together.
Step 6: Stiching Preparations. .
As I didn't have a design on paper I had to figure out where the stitches were to be made.
Folded the leather over the form and made a mark with my fingernails where the stiching grooves ought to be.
Put the grooves in and rolled the overstich wheel in the grooves, thus marking where I needed to push the awl through the leather to be able to stich.
Since this was the first time I tried this particular approach, I also made grooves on the inside.
The plan was to fold the leather over the phone so that both sides (front and back) would neatly be in the middle of the phone, resulting in straight edges.
I thought the inside grooving would help me fold the leather and at the same time assist me in preventing the case becoming crooked, and it did!
Step 7: Attaching the Loop..
Completely forgot to put in oval holes on top to be able to pull the phone out. Mark a round or oval form with f.i. a stylus and use a sharp knife to cut the form out.
Be patient and careful : don't mess up your project or hurt yourself!
The loop is a strap of leather to be sewn to the back of the case. There are no specific dimensions of it.
I found a usable piece in my collection of scrap and cut it to the point I thought it would fit.
I proceeded in preparing the main piece and loop (dying, burnishing, pricking stiching holes..) and fixed the loop with rubber cement, prior to stiching.
Remember to scratch the dye off first. The cement will be able to get a better fix that way.
I also dyed the inside a bit, and burnished the surface. I hoped to smoothen the inside to help the phone slide more freely. Seemed to work fine.
Stich both pieces together and flatten the thread.
Step 8: Final Assembly..
By now we should come up with a piece that is straight and ready to assemble. Nothing extremely difficult, but take your time and don't rush it.
As always, cement and fix, stich both folded halfs together and cut the sides as close as you can.
Bevel and burnish the edges and finish off with an edge finisher or dye the edges again with a small sponge.
I first molded the case *before* I cut and finished the edges! I wanted to be certain the form fitted before the edges were trimmed. That way, I hoped there would be room for correction if needed.
Ready to mold the case in to shape..
Step 9: Shaping the Case..
Prepare the inside to receive the form.
The purpose is to fold the flat case into a formed case that fits the phone like a glove.
Use an edge burnisher, a bone folder or even a wooden spoon, whatever suits your needs but beware of the inside stichings: sharp objects are a big no no!
Getting the form in is not a major problem.
Getting it out proved to be a real nightmare!
When I put the dry form in and tried to move it around, I noticed that it was very difficult to remove it from the leather. It was only half in at that time!
Mmmm, that didn't look good. .
I didn't dampen the case, as I would have done in a standard moulding procedure. Instead, I treated the form with Fiebing's Neatsfoot Oil Compound.
As I hoped, this had at least two results:
- the form could be removed afterwards..
- the leather seemed to fold more easily around the form.
Getting the form out:
Letting the leather get used to the oiled form overnight, I encountered a phenomenon I only heard of: it was almost impossible to separate both objects.
The rumors are true!
I had to use a vise to fix the form, pulling the leather with my hands. Luckily the edges were not trimmed at that time. Oiling the form was a good idea apparently.
Step 10: Result..
After removing the form I ended up with a case that fitted the phone perfectly.
Did I mention I forgot about Rule #1 ?
Proud as a peacock I presented the case, only to recieve it back after a few days. It seemed the case was ok, but the loop was not a perfect solution. If I could do something about it..? Thanks.
Trying one system after another, I finally got to the accepted design in step 10.
Step 11: Adjustments. .
Thinking I was able to get out of it the easy way!
It took some adjustments before the final, accepted solution as you can see for yourself.
I ended the project in covering the case in resoline protective finish and started to shine..
Step 12: Everyone Happy. .
The case is still there, so I must have done something right. Maybe the use of the colored thread had anything to do with it?
With a little more preventive thinking I could have avoided all the unnecessary work but, as they say: "That's life! "
Apparently sometimes one has to do it wrong in order to do it right!
Anyway, I enjoyed the making, made my wife happy and if I may say so, I'm quite happy with the outcome.....
P.S. Don't forget Rule #1 ;-)