Ducky new wallet

Posted in Projects on October 26th, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

My older brother was impressed with my Firefly wallet and his birthday is this month so I made him something to show off.

Finished design

And the inside:

Wallet interior

Each of those diagonal slots will hold two or three cards, so there’s plenty of space.

Scrapbin Quickie

Posted in Projects on July 4th, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

Several years back the wife tripped across the SHARPEST GORRAM KNIVES EVAR, and we’ve had to create new rules for dealing with them around the house lest we inadvertently lose an appendage. (Seriously, these things are like eating with a lightsaber. “Oh, I’ll just cut off a piece of this steak, mmm, wait, why did the table fall apart?”)

So, considering we have a bin for keeping tableware in when we go camping the chances of randomly losing a finger while looking for a spoon were pretty high, and the wife asked me to do something about it.


Camping sheath

(On a side note, pretty new slab under the sheath there. Woot.)

Workbench 2.0

Posted in General on June 7th, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

I may have come up with a solution to the lack-of-a-workspace idea. Since I couldn’t set up a dedicated workspace, I decided to multi-task one of my existing emplacements – my computer desk. Here you can see the humble beginnings…

Humble compy desk

That desk is either from IKEA or someplace spiritually close to it. I picked up the desk way back in 1998 (ye gods) and I’ve been dragging it around ever since. (Shockingly enough, the cam screws are just as tight today as when I assembled it so many years ago.) It’s decent enough, but the wood is MDF and likely to fall apart on me if I do any serious work on it.

Additionally, I’d need to get the monitor and speakers up off the desk – they would get bounced around too much anytime I needed to set a rivet or grommets, and the prolonged tappity-tappity of tooling would probably do bad things for the monitor’s backlight. Read more »

Short hiatus

Posted in General on May 6th, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

The World has impinged itself upon my reality once again, and it appears I will be on a temporary hiatus from leatherwork while I figure out some changes. We ended up having to move last month, and ended up in an apartment without a garage – which has always been my workspace.

The new apartment is on the ground floor, so I can probably get away with the noisy aspects of the craft (if for no other reason than the noise generated by the posse of rugrats that roams the grassy areas outside my windows), but we have a pair of cats, and one thing I know for certain is that cats + dye = 6 different kinds of mess.

So, it may be a month or so until I sort this all out. Come back later this summer and see what I’ve managed.

“Firefly”-themed Biker / Long wallet

Posted in Projects on February 22nd, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

I have no worldly need for a wallet of this nature, and yet my brain would simply not let the idea go – so I made one. If nothing else, it was a learning experience and if I ever make another, that next wallet will be better for having made this one.

Still, I think it’s really cool :)


While I would love to have done a more detailed view of Serenity on the back, doing so would have required doing a much large image, and I was concerned about how folding it through the middle would affect the image, so we get just an outline.

The ‘back’ side makes everyone say “aww…” and sniff a little because that rat bastard killed Wash, but we’ll get over it someday:


On the inside, we find the usual zippered pocket and a stack of card slots. I’ve added another card slot behind the zipper pocket as a convenient place to stash my driver’s license. I tossed the idea of adding an ID card slot with a window to the front of the zipper pocket, but couldn’t quite come up with a design I liked. I’ll have to revisit that in the next one.

Speaking of that zipper – the big chunky one looks cool and all, but it doesn’t want to close once I have it opened. folding the pocket over tightly like that makes the teeth go out of alignment when you’re trying to close it. I’ll have to use a smaller zipper next time.


I lined the interior with the same pigskin that I used in the cell phone belt case I made some time ago. This leaves open the possibility of installing an RFID-proof liner in the next model as well – something I will probably do once the USA gets in sync with the rest of the world and starts using the new chip-and-pin cards like they use in Europe.

Here it is with some cards installed and the pockets open. There’s a bill pocket behind both sides, so plenty of room to store the cash that I never carry. (I live on my debit card instead.)

Zipper Detail

Again, I think it came out pretty cool, despite the horrible block-dye job on the front. (More like blotch-dye job. I bought an airbrush to make that better in the future, just need to practice with it.)

Now I either have to start wearing a sport coat or get a job that doesn’t mind me wearing jeans to the office.

Update and sneak peek

Posted in Tips & Tricks on February 8th, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

As an update to the previous post, I used that method on the piece below, which will be a wallet backplate in the near future. A little over 2 hours worth of carving and stamping, and no curl on the edges or general deformation. And indeed, those impressions are better looking than some of my previous attempts.

After stamping


As you can see, i went with the packing tape method today, and it worked out really well. Removal was simple, and just left me with a slightly fuzzy backside:

Just a little fuzzy


Prep for tooling

Posted in Tips & Tricks on January 31st, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

Leather stretches and deforms as you carve it, but there are steps you can take to limit this. I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few days in preparation for a fairly serious bit of tooling, just to make sure I had my thoughts in order, and there have been some changes since I first started reading the old books and Al Stohlman’s stuff.

For light tooling and stamping the leather won’t stretch much and you can just tool away, but in more serious tooling you need to prepare the leather a little more thoroughly. In basket weaving and geometric stamping, the leather will stretch and curl up around the edges as you work it, so your final dimensions will change and you may not be able to get it flat again. The curling is a real bitch to work around, and all this stretching means you aren’t getting as clean an impression as the leather runs away from the tool.

Once the carving is done you’ll need to do something about the stretch and curl factors. The trick is to glue the leather to something that won’t stretch or curl. in the old days, this meant rubber cement and posterboard, or if you happen to have a way to get it, old X-Ray film was said to be a great medium. In the last few years, however, folks figured out that packing tape works pretty well, and is easier to get and work with.

The steps below are an amalgamation of all the reading I have done:

  1. You need to ‘case’ the leather by getting it more thoroughly wet on both sides. Let it air out a bit and start to return to the lighter color, and then put it in a plastic bag – a freezer bag will work for smaller pieces, but for larger works (briefcases and such) you’ll need a trash bag. Fold the excess plastic under the piece to seal it closed and leave it on the table overnight or so. Sometimes it pays off to leave it a full 24 hours. This allows the leather to really soak in that moisture and soften up in preparation for the stamping.
  2. Once it has cased for a day the leather should be ready to go to work. Go ahead and pull the piece out, transfer your design and guidelines, and do any carving your design calls for. If the leather dries out too much, dampen it down with a sponge as needed.
  3. Now that you’re done carving, it’s time to tape it up. Use a thick, quality tape – the cheap thin stuff shreds when you try to pull it off, and the adhesive is less workable. Make sure the back of the piece is not too damp or wet (it should be mostly dry by this point) and lay your first strip down. Run it over with a glass slicker or a roller to make sure it sticks well, and then continue layering the tape – make sure you overlap a 1/4″ or so on each pass, and continue like this until you have covered the whole piece. A second layer should then be applied crosswise to make sure you’ve pinned it down if both directions.
  4. (Optional) If you’re really worried about the stretch or curl, some leather workers have gone an additional step by getting a piece of acrylic plastic 1/4″ thick or thicker, and then rubber cementing the tape-backed leather to the acrylic. The acrylic is hard enough that when placed onto your tooling slab you’ll still get a solid impression and the leather won’t get mushed about as you work it. The tape alone seems to work well for the folks I have read up on. In any case, by now you’re ready for tooling, so get to it.
  5. Grab a mallet and go to work, re-dampening the leather as needed. Don’t use too much water, as it will affect the tape. Stick to using a sponge at this point, or a mister. Try to keep your impressions as uniform as possible, and you should get nice clean imprints – the leather has nowhere to go but down at this point.
  6. Once you finish the tooling, allow the piece to dry a while and return mostly to the original color before you remove the tape. Turn the project upside-down and pull the tape off of the leather, rather than the other way around to avoid stretching it out after you went through all this. The tape should come off cleanly and leave just a slightly fuzzy nap to the leather.

I’ll be using this method myself on my next couple of projects – I had terrible stretching problems on the smartphone case I made a while back – I ended up re-soaking the leather and leaving it to dry under my slab for almost a week to get it flat again.

Dance Card wallet

Posted in Projects on January 6th, 2015 by The Cyberwolfe

I can’t remember where I heard the term, but somewhere on the Internet is a guy who called a minimalist wallet a “Dance Card wallet”, and the phrase stuck in my head. Points to anyone who can find original attribution.

In any case, the wife has been carrying all her must-have cards around in one of those little pull-out ID slots rather than carry her full wallet because of the space it takes up, so I thought I could do one better. This one has two pockets on the back and a full window on the front, including a vinyl inlay to keep the card from falling out. I cut the pockets generous enough to allow for double-stacking the cards if needed.



I think I should have gone back over those stitch grooves with a brush, seems a little pale behind the thread. Notes for the next model…

Dice bag

Posted in Projects on September 7th, 2014 by The Cyberwolfe

My daughter took up role-playing games recently, so we’ve set her up with her own set of dice – but of course, she’ll need a snazzy way to carry them around, right? :)

I’ve made a couple of these before, but thought I would hit a Norse/viking theme for this one.


There are two inscriptions, both thanks to the fine folks over at Viking Rune. The top one says “af heppni er sigr”, which loosely translates to “from luck, victory”. The bottom inscription is a simple transliteration of “Blood for Odin”, which is a reference to this happy tale.

The inner design itself is a reference to the time Odin stole all of the mead. There’s a true viking for ya!

So, what’s on your Tombstone?

Posted in Tips & Tricks on August 11th, 2014 by The Cyberwolfe

When I first got back into the whole leatherworking gig and was kitting out my tools, I picked up a marble slab from my friendly local leather store. It was a 12″ square remnant from a counter top remodeling job or some such. It did the job ok, but a couple months after I got it I managed to knock it over on the garage floor and broke off a fair chunk of one of the corners. I haven’t been happy with it since, and I’ve been keeping my eye out for a replacement.

This hasn’t been easy. I’ve called around to all the local stone suppliers, and the answer has been a consistent maximum of 1.25″ thick or they never bothered to return my call. I’ve even checked with a few mortuaries, to no avail.

About a week ago, however, I came across an outfit on Amazon selling a granite surface plate for an extremely reasonable price. A surface plate is a granite slab specifically planed and finished to be a precision-ground true and flat surface used by craftsmen and tool makers to ensure proper angles and straight edges, and they usually run a couple-hundred bucks. I figured it was too good to be true, but added it to my basket anyway to see what the horrendous shipping charges would be. I mean really – a 3-inch thick slab of granite’s gotta weigh over 70 pounds, right? That will be hell to ship…

A whopping $10 !?!


Now, a week of “where the hell IS the dratted truck??” later, and I have my very own too-damn-heavy-to-move permanently placed slab o’ rock:

The Slab

(Forgive the mess in the back, I had to clear space in a hurry.)

It even comes with a lab analysis sheet telling me it’s accurate to within 0.0005″ of being absolutely flat. Close enough, I suppose… :) As an added benefit, with that much mass, any tooling I do will be much quieter and won’t disturb the rest of the household or my neighbors quite so much.

Now I just hope the table holds up…