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Working With Leather
Leather work is a particularly satisfying craft project. Its durability and natural qualities are especially suited for Cub Scouts. Whether they stamp, tool, carve, or simply make something out of a finished leather, they will have a project they like and it will be useful as well.
Instead of using expensive leather, use rounders, practice pieces, scraps or half backs.
¥ Rounders are inexpensive precut 3 1/4" round pieces that are very versatile. They can be used to make coups, slides, coasters, bookmarks, and key chains.
¥ Practice pieces are another precut shape in leather that is even more inexpensive and with a little imagination can be a coup, a slide, a bookmark, key chain, or whatever several pieces attached together could be.
¥ Half backs are approximately 3 1/2" by 4 1/2" precut pieces that are a little more expensive, but do make change purses, picture frames, and folded key chains.
Scrap leather is usually available at leather shops and its limits are confined only by the size of the piece and your imagination. You will need an exacto knife or leather knife to cut the projects out. This is a difficult task and should always be done by an adult.
When the leather has been cut out, you can decorate it by stamping, tooling, or carving. Stamping is imprinting a design stamp into the leather surface by tapping the tool with a wooden hammer. It is the easiest to learn, and boys love to pound a variety of stamps into their leather projects. Tooling and carving are more difficult and probably a leader will need some specialized instruction before attempting them. Since stamping is easier and really needs only a few simple rules of thumb.
Stamping leather is popular with the boys, start with a few design stamps and some wooden hammers and add as money and a good sale will allow. Purchase small stamps and two or three hammers and a small letter set 1/4 to 1/2" if money permits.
If this is impossible, you can make your own stamp set by filing different size nails into interesting shapes. File the point of a large nail flat and groove into the nail tip. With the variety of nails available, you can make as many shapes as your imagination permits.
When ready to decorate the leather, dampen it (DO NOT SOAK), punch any holes necessary for lacing, and then stamp, rewetting as needed. It is best to encourage the boys to take some time to plan their design so they will be pleased with their finished project.
To stamp, hold the stamp upright and tap it firmly several times with a wooden mallet. Be careful not to drive it completely through the leather. Use a board under the leather to protect the surface underneath. Finish the project with a fast drying finish that is available at leathercraft stores. It paints on like shoe polish and dries quick. The final stop is lacing. A good easy stitch to lace with is the whip stitch. It gives an nice finished edge to the project. Plastic lacing is inexpensive. Cut lace approximately 3 to 3 1/2 times the distance to be laced.
Coup, Coaster, Key Chain
¥ Wet leather.
¥ Punch holes for lacing if desired. The coup needs one or two holes at the top and one at the bottom. The key chain needs one.
¥ Color with permanent marker or dye.
¥ Apply finish.
¥ Lace or add key chain or plastic lace to compete the project chosen.
Tie Slide, Belt Coup
¥ Wet leather
¥ Punch holes, or cut slits.
¥ Stamp and color
¥ Apply finish, dry thoroughly.
¥ Add lacing as desired.
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