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Our E6-with-two-kids-and-a-mortgage budget is not extravagant, but we get by, and I do have some money in the monthly dedicated to my personal pursuits.  This usually translates to ammunition, but for the last month I’ve been spending my allowance (and funds from the gun cache cash) on leather tools and materials.  Since my first paycheck for September has already arrived, I took a trip to Tandy Leather in Tacoma this morning with my firstborn to get rid of some of it.

My allowance for the month of September

From left, we have:

  • Craftool Overstitch Wheel System (part number 8091-00)
  • Sewing Awl Kit (1216-00)
  • Lacing and stitching fid (3056-00)
  • Pro Stitching Groover Set (88081-00)

All sitting on a 12″ by 12″ Poundo board (part number 3461-01).  I also picked up some small spring clips for making pouches and another, even smaller hole punch head (none pictured).

I haven’t spent a lot on leather stuff, but I’ve spent a lot for me.  I’m pretty cheap. Expenditures thus far might be equivalent to a budget gamer video card and new monitor.

So what do I have to show for it so far?  Well, a few pouches, mostly.  I finished the cell pouch I was working on the other day and used it for a while, but I have decided that I don’t like the ALICE pack clips for everyday use; the top loops jab something painful after a while, being designed for an equipment web belt, not a pants-holding-up kind of belt.  I haven’t decided whether to rework that one or just make another.  It would clip to an equipment belt or shoulder strap just fine as-is, so I may just leave it.

I did actually finish one of the projects that came in my initial kit: the tooled leather cell pouch:

The dark cocoa brown [which rather appears black] exterior disguises the deficiencies in the tooling, but the lighter brown interior is actually a much more interesting color, and when I do another pouch in tooled leather, I’ll try that one for the exterior instead.  [There’s supposed to be a fabric liner inside to hide the rivets, but I stole that for a different pouch.]  Closure is hook and loop (a.k.a. Velcro); the Army has instilled in me a deep hatred of H&L since we went to the ACUs, so I try to avoid it, but I didn’t have an appropriately lightweight snap closure handy.

My biggest success so far is probably my new wallet.  The interior came from the kit I purchased when I first got started a month ago, but I used the burgundy oil-tanned leather in lieu of the veg-tanned tooling leather to pretty good effect:

Imagery analysts will deduce that I am a US Army E6 who lives in Washington, banks at USAA, and shops at Costco.

The stitching is a little uneven, but I plan to further develop that skill in the near future. Thus the purchases at the beginning of this post.

The original wallet plan did not have the “envelope” fold and snap, but the burgundy oil-tanned leather seems to demand something more than a simple bi-fold, and I really like the look.  The cut is not super even everywhere, but I only recently upgraded from a rusty utility knife (borrowed from my wife) to a rotary cutter (also borrowed from my wife).

My preference for a wallet would actually be a little bigger, have a dedicated accessible pocket for my military ID, and embedded foil (to keep the NSA from reading my credit cards from space), but doing my own interior is a little outside my skill level out the moment–certainly it’s outside of my patience level.  Unfortunately,  there don’t seem to be many options for buying the wallet interiors short of buying a whole kit (including the tooling leather blank for the exterior).  I may look outside the normal supply chain for such things.  For now, this works.

The only other thing I’ve finished is what is undoubtedly the most elegant security badge holder ever seen at my workplace–also in burgundy oil-tan.  [No pics because it’s underwhelming without the badge, and you don’t need to see the badge.]  I am going to make some for my favored coworkers in veg-tanned leather so I can practice tooling some designs and dyeing.

Anyway, it’s been about a month, and this is still extraordinarily entertaining to me.  And I use the hell out of that anvil, so I’m glad I bought it.  I gotta say that it may be time to re-evaluate my workspace if I’m going to be serious about this, though.

It may be time to tidy up and reorganize.

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