Forum Comments

First 20 Hours to Learn Anything...
In Leathercraft Techniques
Toby Chye
Dec 21, 2018
All those threads and stitching onto scrap pieces of leather, yeah I did those too! My methodology is a little different from yours. I usually review my work mentally and mule over it as when my mind is free to do so. Though sometimes it can get really weird, spacing out and all, which my friends and relatives have seen it before. I guess they might be thinking that I must be thinking about nothing at all, which in fact I am thinking of what the next step might be in improving my craft. Essentially, take for example edge painting, I would usually do it one time across a piece of scrap leather that has been glued. I believe that using edge paints on a single layer of leather does not emulate actual project pieces anyway, so usually I would do 2 or multiple layers. So finishing the process of edge painting (around 3-4 coats), I would stop awhile. During this period, I would paint a mental imagery and go through the entire process of what I did step by step in my head. Then, I would go about to identify 3 key components of what I did which are, 1. what I did wrong, 2. how I can change the process with what I have 3. how much time I spent on this step After going through this in my head, I would do the exact same process again on a fresh side of leather, but this time around I just change a single step. I would repeat this until I am quite satisfied of the end result. I will only proceed on to points 2 and 3 once I am more or less confident that what I did wrong is ironed out completely. During my free time I would paint this scenario in my mind and 'practise' it. After some time I would put this at the back of my mind and not think about it because I realise that it is better to let the mind rest (cause it can consume you mentally, making you exhausted). I would then continue on with other projects using the same technique (same when I practised on scraps). The process would repeat again, when I stumble onto new techniques or miraculously, when an idea pops up in my mind, which spurs me to practise again.
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Copying
In General Chat
English Paring Knife / Skiving Knife
In Leather Tools
Toby Chye
Dec 20, 2018
Off my head, I would recommend Terrick's (Chartermade) knives to anyone. So far from all the knives from different designs and makers, his is probably the 'best' in that category (skiving only) for a couple of reasons. That is because I do not believe there is ever the best, since everyone has their own preference and the needs vary too. As for edge retention, Terrick's knife is average, since his reason is pretty logical, you should be stropping from time to time and sharpening the knife from time to time. His idea of a knife being easy to maintain, i.e, stropping with ease, seems to be quite true from a leather crafter's perspective since you would not be out and about in the wilderness and mostly have sharpening media lying beside you. I think Blanchard tools truly embodies the idea of the crafter 'doing his homework', which translates to knowing how to sharpen and maintain the knife from the get go (a lot of vintage tools have that too). That means they don't have the best steel or edge retention and you as the crafter have to know to use or 'manipulate' them to produce the best results. Anyways, couple of things in my own checklist for getting a good knife. 1. You have to really to know how to sharpen and strop. This is really important as it doesn't matter how good the knife is, once it's dull and you can't bring it back to razor sharpness, it is probably as good as a brick (so to speak). Even Blanchard knives can be crazy good if you know to sharpen it. I guess Philip does a good job with his course in sharpening. But personally, I'd go higher in grits, I love the knife edge having that nice polished reflection. 2. Type of steel. This one is probably quite hard to pin down as everyone has their opinion on it. I break it down to a few categories.... a. edge retention b. toughness c. corrosion resistance d. thickness of blade. Usually for A, most would recommend moderate edge retention so that you do not need to sharpen/strop that often and yet you can do so with ease (usually the vanadium content dictates this). And also because for craft work, we are mostly in our work bench within reach of sharpening media. Personally, I go slightly higher if I could, hence I like M390 for a reason (but Terrick's knives are N690 and D2 I think), with higher vanadium content so that you can less sharpening stropping but not too absurdly high till you need really high end abrasives (like diamonds, CBN, etc) to get the max results. For B, you do not really need that kind of toughness since craft work requires mostly slicing of leather (which is soft) compared to chopping wood or bones or harder materials. For C, it depends on where you live and how many times you used the knife on a regular basis. Like for me, I use 'stainless' ( 14% or more chromium content) knives since where I live is super humid (RH 70-90%, Singapore) and plus the fact that I do not use knives on regular basis as crafting is my side hustle. If you live in drier area, you do not need this property, which makes opens up more types of steels you can explore. For D, I would say the best for craft work is a thinner blade, around 1.5 to 2+ mm (not sure about imperial, you can look up conversion), because you're mostly slicing leather which thinner blades excel at. 3. Balance of the knife. Terrick's knife for example has a good weight to it, not so heavy nor too feather-like lightness and the CG of it is at around the area of the ferrule. So that means you can hold the knife comfortably since your fingers would wrap around that spot most of the time. 4. Finish of the blade. His knife for example, has really good finish and edges of it smooth. I find that blades should not be super polished to mirror shine especially for skiving/paring knives since you would be holding onto the blade most of the time, having that makes it really slippery to hold. The edges should be bevelled so that you would not feel like the edges are biting onto your skin. This is mainly for paring knives as you're gripping tightly onto the blade. 5. Edge geometry and heat treatment. I prefer paring knives to have a wide secondary bevel so that the knife edge can taper down a really thin edge. Heat treatment is important too, properly done would mean you be pulling the maximum potential out of that knives's steel, plus it affects entire property of the steel.
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Bell Skiving Machine
In Leather Tools
Toby Chye
Dec 19, 2018
I intend to get one in the near future if my current work area allows for it, cause as of now the problem (or rather one of them) is the space needed. But damn...I can't really think of any major cons of owning one, other than the upfront cost and perhaps maintenance and of course space? If I am not wrong, most of the the pros out there or crafters intending to step up their game in full-time usually would have some form of machinery, just like Philip to quote an example, and this is one of them. I use to think that machines such as as sewing machines and this would be a hassle to keep up with the times and would probably break down very often (coming from a general tech p.o.v like smartphones). After chatting with some pros, I found out that generally speaking it should last a long long time provided you do your maintenance right and don't do crazy stuff or abuse it, which means doing something that the machine is not meant for. The "tech" behind it does improve through time and it doesn't needed to be upgraded yearly if that makes sense? Cause essentially the improvements are mostly quality of life? And the fact that you can "upgrade" the machine via changing of motors and peripherals. Yeah, getting the sharpness and learning how to troubleshoot the machine yourself (plus learning it of course) is indeed a challenge. Till now, I am still learning about it, though to be honest, it is still best to actually have hands-on sessions of using it to actually get a hang of it. Hopefully, Philip would like release a video course on machine such as this.
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Toby Chye

Toby Chye

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