Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Roorkee Build Part 2 - Leather

Pretty much done.

Future Roorkee.
Photo by Daniel Steger

I have never worked leather before.  I probably wouldn't have tried this had Chris Schwarz not done it and said woodworkers can do this easily.  While it wasn't as easy as I hoped, it was something I was able to do learning on my own.

One bit I had to learn, was how to buy leather online.  One can spend an awful lot of money on leather.  Tip:  Don't do that.

I got a side of latigo leather in a burgundy color and about 9-10 oz. weight for about $140 plus shipping.  After I thought about it for a while, I got nervous about the color, and decided to order a side of black, too.  Holy cow!  that's a lot of leather.  This way, however, I was able to look at a couple different sides and decide which one I wanted best.

I finally settled on the black one.  As these sides (that is the leather industry term for a half-a-cow's worth of leather) were economy grade, there were just enough imperfections and parts of the leather that were unsuitable, that I was able to only get enough leather from the side to make one chair.  Perhaps there is enough left over for a camp stool, we'll see.  Unlike Chris, I made all of my straps from this leather, too.  Perhaps that makes a difference.  Regardless, I couldn't figure out how to get my templates on decent looking parts of this cow and leave enough left over for another chair.  Perhaps with a bit of practice, I'll do better next time.

A sharp box cutter is a good tool for cutting out the big parts.  I'll go out on a limb and say if you want nice looking straps, go ahead and spend the extra dough on a strap and belt cutter from Tandy Leather Factory.  This really sped things up and worked like a charm.

I'll not go to in depth what I did for the leather working, as there is already plenty online regarding this.  Read what Chris Schwarz says about the leather, and also use the free instructional videos on the Tandy website.  Do a bit of surfing around, and make sure you know what the plan is before you start.

I finished up the chair this morning, and I am pleased with how it turned out.  It took me a while to warm up to this chair, as when Chris first started writing about it I had never seen one before.  It always takes a while to get used to something new.  Probably the best compliment I could have gotten was when the Frau said, "It's not nearly as hideous as I expected!"  Needless to say, she was not a big fan of the form.  Seeing it in person, it really is a beautiful chair.

All I have left to do is to color the edges of the leather when the edge dye arrives in the mail.

Just in case you want the specs of mine, here they are:
  • Pear wood finished with straight beeswax.
  • Black latigo 9-10 oz. leather.
  • Stainless steel hardware including stainless screws, washers, and carriage bolts for the back.  The buckles are cheap $.96 versions plated with something silver in color.
  • Copper rivets.
Enough blather, take a look for yourself.

Fitting the arm straps while it sits on my ATC.

The Frau is pleased enough that it might wind up living in one of our living spaces.

Although I also have brass hardware, I decided stainless was the look I wanted on this chair.

Comfy.  Perhaps I'll have to get a new video game console.

  • Pear is a beautiful wood.  Not sure if it is known for ease in turning, but I had no problems with it.  This is my first turning for a piece of furniture.
  • The leather did take a bit longer than I thought it would.  I suspect that this will be easier next time.  Part of the problem was I didn't have a proper tool to cut the posts of the copper rivets.  I wound up using the snipper on the inside of a cheap pair of Chinese pliers.  Nothing like having the right tool.
  • My little eight pound anvil was a nice tool for riveting.
  • Luggage in the trunk of the car can shift around during transport.  Do not let the chair parts fall to the surface of the parking lot.  If you do, try to avoid dropping the parts 17 or 18 more times during construction of this project.
  • I think another of these will have to be built.  This project was fun!


  1. like the project. but whats the deal with a cow. but you got leather and steak....

    1. Haha! I originally had no photos to go with this post, so pulled that one off the internet. I got some pics and decided to keep it!

  2. Really like the detail of the 3 screws on the "knob?" A nice treat. It makes a very classy gaming chair. I agree about the stainless;coupled with the pear and black hide it really makes it very sleek and modern looking. Excellent work as always!

    1. Thanks, Jeremy! I'm not sure it is everyone's thing, but I like how it turned out. If I change my mind, I'll just make another one.

  3. Very nice! I, too, like the stainless screws. And the legs are really nice.

    1. Thanks, Mom! I'm glad you like my legs...

  4. Hi Brian, I can very much imagine SWMBO making that statement! It is indeed a fine looking chair and much more elegant than when you were worried about it being too pink (pear wood) and purple (the "other" leather). Then again - perhaps that's exactly the combination you'll make on your next effort for SWMBO!!

  5. About the leather edge, I have visited a well known lady's handbag factory (Delvaux, Belgium); they use a soldering iron (as for electronic) to seal/blacken the edges.
    Don't show those bags to the Frau, they are expensive.

    1. That sounds like an interesting tip! I'll try it on a piece of scrap.

  6. What site did you buy the leather hides from?

    1. Hi Bill, I got the leather from The Leather Guy.