Leather Molding - Making a Watch Cover.




About: Favourite likes: I like art deco / art nuveau (new) designs work. And everything else too. Pet hates: I hate people who ask DUMB questions without either showing any initiative to go look it up in a boo...

I am a qualified engineer / first class welder..... and I hate welding for a job, but I love it for a hobby.

One of the more entertaining things is that I can't wear a cheap crap ELECTRIC watch because they speed up and slow down and go basically mental...

This makes it very hard to catch things like bus's - is it coming in 5 minutes time? or did it leave 5 minutes ago?

Naaaaaaa I need a watch that is DEAD on exactly the right time, all the time.

People say, "Oh you have too much electricity in your body".

As it turns out, I am not the only person who is gifted with this affliction; as I meet so many people who say "My (name inlaw), had the same thing, they had to wear a rubber strip under their watch" etc., etc., etc...

So anyway, in order to keep a reliable time piece reliable, I chose to buy ONE good watch that would last me the rest of my life time.

I wanted a Mechanical Watch - with Gears and Springs - and no Electrickery.

A fully automatic (self winding), hermetically sealed against everything, mechanical watch - the Seiko divers watch.

Now this is a ONCE in a life time purchase, and I intend to look after it.

I wear it all the time, except when in contact with anything that can rot it's seals such as paint, thinners, motor oils, showering and soaps etc..

The flip side of it's benefits - meaning that one can wear it all the time, can also be a pain in the arse when busy, welding or grinding and being somewhat absent minded - because welding and grinding create sparks.

Sparks are composed of moltern and burning iron.

Burning iron fuses into the watch glass and creates nasty little burnt pits and lumps...

And the only way to stop this ocouring it to take the watch off - put it somewhere out of the way, and then..... generally forget where I put it or what ever... for a day or two and then that requires finding it and resetting it.

I hate resetting the time... - so I hate taking it off as well....

So I figured that I want a REALLY GOOD leather watch protector.

Not many people make them, even less sell them, and being a larger watch, I have no chance of ever buying one, so.......

One day while link hopping, I came across on how to make MOLDED leather products - and within some limitations, it's nearly as easy as pissing on the floor when you aim for the bowl..

So here is how I did it.

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Step 1: The Place to Start - Get a Watch That Is WORTH Looking After.

I'd much rather have ONE good thing that lasts me for life than 20 pieces of junk that don't.; so since I have a good watch, I want a good cover that fits it.

OK... now the design.

I could have traced the watch - but I live in the middle of no-where, and getting things like tracing paper and all that, for one off projects, tends to tax the limits of my already overworked mind.

So I have a computer and a scanner, and some really EXCELLENT graphic software, that is not made by microsoft.... thank Domestos - God of all God's.

It's Open Office (dot Org), and it has an EXCELLENT drawing package.

I scanned in the watch image, and then DREW a circle over it, being the MEAN external diamater of the watches general circular shape.

Step 2: Preparing the Pattern

After working out the MEAN or AVERAGE diameter of the watch body, I then scanned in the watch and overlaid that image with a circle.

I then grouped the images - for my male mold;,

Here is a fun bit... One needs to make an IMAGE or TEMPLATE of the FRONT of the male mold; and the REVERSE image or template, of the female mold. (or is that the other way around)

(yeah the MALE pattern goes into the FEMALE mold)

I made a copy of that image, flipped it horizontally (???) and then enlarged it in proportion to make a female mold pattern. - with a clearance to allow for the thickness of the leather and a little swelling.

These are the IMAGES that get glued onto the timber, to show how to do the shaping of the molds.

Step 3: Make the Mold.

In making the forming dies:
How far you want to take this depends on the tooling and die materials you need.

I am doing a once off and so I used the most basic available - from glued together pine plywood.

The pressures are generally low, the production run is short and soft wooden molds are better, because they stretch the leather to size and soak the water out of the leather faster.

I used a male mold and a female mold.

Each was composed of TWO layers of 7mm plywood.

I was fortunate that I had on hand a cheap hole saw (drill powered) that made the right sized hole for the male and female pattern.

I also had my jigsaw table (see my other instructable) to cut to shape, the REAR of the male pattern.

Here is the Male pattern.

Step 4: This Is the Male Pattern Side On


Step 5: Here Is the Female Mold


Step 6: Here Is the Watch in the Female Mold


Step 7: Here Is the Watch in the Female Mold


Step 8: Here Is the Molding Press in Action

Soak your leather in cold water overnight and some people recommend using HOT water, like about 50 - 60*C to make the leather more pliable...

Some people recommend using vegetable tanned leather.

I got a good second hand leather handbag from a second hand / thrift shop and used the leather from that.

After soaking it overnight, I put the leather between the male and female molds, stuck a big piece of timber on each side and then clamped it with a sliding clamp and let it dry for a day or so.

Step 9: The Leather in the Mold.


Step 10: The Extracted Leather Product.

This is the leather after taking it out - there was a little bit of excess contact adhesive from the male pattern that has squeezed onto the leather and glued it, so I had to soak the leather in turpentine to get the male mold out.

So it's wet, but not water wet.

Step 11: Checking the Watch for Fit - in the Cover.


Step 12: Gave the Leather a Trim

The leather once formed like this, tends to stay that way permanently, but I was wanting to stiffen it right up by kind of plasticising it.

I gave the leather parts a thorough soaking in THICK shellac to stiffen it right up, more or less permanently.

Step 13: Fitted a Reinforcement Band at the Attachment Point.


Step 14: Fitted a Press Stud Band.

As the leather had been "stiffened" with shellac, I was able to DRILL the holes for the thread with a 1mm drill.

Step 15: This Is the More or Less Finished Article.


Step 16: This Is the Watch Cover in Action.

Bingo - it works.



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      9 Discussions


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Nice work, the use of a female mold works great for a small item like this, i recently did a similar project but i used thick card instead of wood, this made it easier and quicker to make the mold, obviously, your mold will last alot longer than mine.


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Great concept and good instructable! I always just wore my cheap watches to work (just a tad beat up) but I think this is an awesome project for my fossil watches!


      10 years ago on Introduction

      Awesome! I have a nicer Pierre Cardin watch and I weld and grind almost every day. A little awkward for my tastes, but still very good. 5/5


      10 years ago on Step 15

      I love this look, and it's functional, thanks!