Ever shoot a traditional bow in archery, only to have your wrist turn red with a burning, stinging feeling from the bow string? Did you try to readjust your grip to move away from the string, only to find out that doesn't work? There is a logical reason why traditional archers use wrist guards. It feels far better than exposing your skin to repeated hits. This instructable will show how to craft a simple, beginner level wrist guard that can be made over the weekend. There are a few tools needed, and most can be purchased from Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or Tandy Leather in a pinch. Heck, if you plan on really getting into leather crafting, you may choose to up your tooling from some specialty leather stores.
Step 1: Trial & Error
After building a new long bow, I felt it was necessary to craft my own arm guard. I wanted a simple design that looked and felt traditional from the medieval times. Running leather shoe string through a flap of leather seemed like a good idea, until I actually tried to put it on and wear it. Cinching down the leather shoe string, feeding it through each hole was a painstakingly long process. So I decided to watch a few YouTube videos to see what people were wearing, and how the arm guards fastened. (Watch "Archer's Paradox" from Smarter Everyday) This is were my revised idea came from. (Although Byron's is cooler with the leather locks on top)
Step 2: What Do You Need?
1. Leather pieces- (scrap is fine if it fits around your arm)
2. Leather cement
3. Lace lugs
4. Waxed thread & 2 needles
5. Scrap wood- (for protecting table top)
6. Medium rivets
7. 1/8" Bungee cord
1. Punch sets- (Leather hole punch, Thread punch)
2. Wood mallet
3. Leather strip cutter- (for nice straight pieces)
4. Leather edge tool- (rounded edges)
5. Rivet set
Step 3: Adding a Few Pieces
The brown leather guard was traced/cut from the Tandy Leather Archer's blueprint pattern. After messing around with it, it began to soften, not holding a rigid shape any more. So I cut a couple of black strips of leather to help make the sides more stiff, and build a little bulk for the rivets to hold the lace lug. The stitching in between each lug also adds a bit of stiffness. The black, tear drop shaped leather is for a little extra protection over my veins in the wrist. After shooting the new bow, I was black and blue for a couple of days, hence the need for a new arm guard.
Step 4: Assembly
After cutting the leather from the template, I needed to glue the additional black pieces to minimize the movement while punching and sewing. Gluing is easy if you follow the directions on the can. I tried to use as little as possible so that there wouldn't be excess squeezing out, all over the place. One trick is letting the glue dry to a tacky state before adhering the two pieces. However, make sure you have everything aligned, or else it is a bear to move around. If your house is busy like ours, you may want to stack a pile of books onto the leather to help keep pressure on the joints, as well as keeping hands of others off.
Step 5: Punching Thread Holes
Let the glue dry for a bit before tackling the thread punch. Place the scrap wood on the table surface that you are working on. Then place the leather piece on top of the wood. I usually start in the middle of pieces to punch my holes, and work my way out to find symmetry. The punch tool I use first had 3 "prongs" to move the process along a little faster. It was also helpful to use the 3rd hole as an alignment guide for spacing as I went around the circular portion of the tear drop. I stitched it on first before punching the thread holes for the long leather strips.
Step 6: Riveting Lace Lugs
In order to figure out my stitch spacing on the top side of the guard, I decided to place, punch the holes, and set the rivets in the lace lug first. This takes about 15 minutes. Just make sure that the bottom set for the rivet is aligned correctly. Otherwise you will get an odd crease on the bottom of your rivet. You will want to double check the length of your rivet before hammering. Its best to set up a test, using the same thickness of material and same components. If you can't tear them apart easily, then you are on the right track.
Step 7: Stitching
Stitching the leather pieces together by hand feels like the longest part of the project. However, it is on of the most important. I did all of my hand stitching as a "Saddle Stitch". What I mean by that is, I cut the thread 4-4.5 times longer than the length of the stitching line. I use 2 needles and feed each hole with both threads. To start, I run the needle & thread through the first end hole. Find the middle of the thread, and then begin alternating the threading pattern. Apply equal tension on the thread before running the needles through the next hole. By the end of the running pattern, you should have enough thread to stitch under and tie off. Just search "Saddle Stitch", or check out jessyratfink's post on leather stitching:
Step 8: Final Step- Bungee Cord
The last step is to run the 1/8" diameter bungee cord through the holes, and fit the guard to your arm. This took me a couple of attempts to make sure I had the tension that I wanted. I didn't cut the final length until after a couple of days, and playing with the bow. This version is much easier to slip on and fasten rather than pulling leather shoe strings. Happy shooting.
Runner Up in the
Leather Contest 2017