As some of you know, I pay the bills around here by being an IT guy during the day. Sometimes, this requires me to take things apart, like laptops. Laptop manufacturers don’t always want you to be able to take them apart, however, so they use some oddball screws or very tiny screws to keep out the amateurs.
I recently decided to invest in some better miniature screwdrivers, and found a set with a single handle and interchangeable blades that takes up a very small amount of room in my backpack kit. The case, however, is an uninspiring plastic jobbie with a blown-plastic insert. The lid is kinda thin, and I get the feeling it will get cracked before long.
I smell a new project!
While the tool roll I have shown you before is pretty neat, I decided to go with more of a wallet approach on this one. I figured a three-pocket design would be good, with a cover flap that snaps in place. This also gives me room to carve something interesting on it.
For the pockets, I figured I could use a softer leather sewn onto hard leather, and if I worked it just right, I might be able to hide a couple of seams for appearance’s sake. Considering the dimensions of the screwdriver handle, it would require at least one layer of welt to thicken the profile enough to look right.
So – on to the sewing. I dug some suitable material out of my scraps bag and spent about an hour agonizing over the math regarding how big the top section should be to make decent pockets, settled on some numbers, and set to it. The outside seams are done with glover’s needles, and I won’t be doing that again without a thimble. Those bastards are sharp! I switched to my awl and harness needles for the handle’s pocket.
Once the pockets were stitched up, I cut the welt piece and skived it thinner along my stitch line so it wouldn’t bunch up too badly on the final seam. The welt is a U-shaped piece that just goes around the outside. In the pictures below, you can see I’ve also cut a second U-shaped piece, mounted snaps, and glued it atop the welt, which has already been sewn to the pockets.
Now comes the fun part – carving the design.
After much thought and agonizing, I decided to go with the Transformers Autobot insignia. I’ll be using this kit at work, so it has to be something bland enough that no-one could take offense at it. (The other most popular idea was to carve “I void warranties” on it, but I suck at lettering.) Here’s the piece with the design carved and backgrounded:
As I said, this will be living in my backpack and subject to all the dangers therein, so I backgrounded the positive image instead of the negative to give it a better shot at survival. I also intended to dye the whole thing black and paint the design silver, so this will save the paint from being scraped off as well.
Now for the painful part – sewing three layers of 7-8 oz leather together. Here’s a test-fitting of the project:
Again, I begged forgiveness from the ghost of Al Stohlman and used my Dremmel to pre-drill the holes. I’ve gotten better at judging seam distances though – I managed to get all of this seam done with one piece of string. Here it is all sewn up and the snaps installed:
The edges look a little rough here – these pix were taken just before I trimmed and sanded everything straight and smooth. Once that was done, it was time to dye.
Points to the World’s Best Girlfriend here, she brought me another bottle of dye just as the first one ran out.
The fiddliest bit of this sort of project for me is the coloring process. Dying something black is simple and straightforward enough, but the painting gets at me. First a coat of bone white, then we tidy up with a dye marker, then a couple coats of silver, more tidying up, and correcting where I over-tidied… you get the picture.
The last two steps I finished just today – I slicked the edges and applied a thick coat of Tan-Kote. Here’s the finished product:
And now it goes into the backpack, rarely to be seen again…