Today we're talking about leather craft basics. And one of the basic tools that I went far too long without was a stitching pony. They were just a bit expensive for me, and I figured I could just sew my projects without one. But when I finally took the time to build one, I realized that I could make it for less than 20 bucks. So I want to share with you how to make a stitching Pony in a day and how to use a stitching pony.
How to Make a DIY Stitching Pony
So for $20, you can get a stitching pony that's made of hardwood, wrapped in leather, and has about four inches of adjustment.
So it can open clear out, and you can fit bigger projects in there. I'm not a really experienced woodworker by any means. And I know that a lot of people who get into leathercraft do it because it's a hobby that they can do in their house without a lot of crazy power tools or space.
So I've designed my stitching Pony and eventually made that for me. So you can also build a stitching pony with just some screws, some wood glue, and anything that you can use to cut wood with. No matter it's a hacksaw or wood saw that you use by hand to cut wood with. Or, if you have the guys at Home Depot cut it with their miter saw, which is definitely doable for only one to six cuts.
What You Need
To start, you'll need some materials.
- you'll need to buy sixty inches of hardwood
- some leather screws
- a hinge
- a wing nut
- a large washer to 3/8 washers
- a three-eighths by five and a half-inch carriage bolt with a nut and
- you will need some wood glue
Tools that You Need
Tools that you need to use are:
- a drill and impact driver set
- a countersink bit
- a 1/2 inch and 3/8 drill bit
- a square tape measure
- a quick clamp
- then a wrench and
- a few other random tools as well
Making Stitching Pony (Step By Step Guideline)
Cut your wood
To start, you need to cut all of your wood to the length specified in the plans. Make sure you wear safety glasses if you're using power tools and always take all the other safety precautions.
Sand wood pieces
Next, you need to sand all the pieces. Just give them a light sand, and that should be good for the finish. I made a big mistake when I was making it for the first time. I didn't drill the holes on the vertical legs before I started to attach the spacers and jaws to them. So make sure that you drill your holes before you attach the jaws or spacers to the legs. And your project will turn out much better and go much more smoothly.
Drill the holes
You can use a countersink for this. It pre-drills the holes for the screws, and then it also cuts out a larger opening for the head of the screw. So that the screw head can be cut totally flush into the wood.
I normally mark a 45-degree angle on the jaw piece and the leg piece so that I can see where my clearance will be for these 1-inch screws. Once you find the position that you want to put the screw in, you can mark that off and then use a square to project that line across the whole jaw.
To screw holes is plenty for this project because you need to use lots of wood glue as well. Now, once you've done the one jaw, you can copy the measurements from it and make the second jaw exactly the same.
When attaching the jaw to the vertical leg, be sure that the sides are perfectly flush so that you get a good clean piece afterward.
You should have the top to be flush as well just to keep your measurements consistent. The neck I make on my piece normally being glued in. Therefore, I do it in the top part of the jaw, which will eventually be cut away, so there shouldn't be an issue at all by having that nicked part in the top.
Screw and Glue
Once you've got your glue on, just make sure that everything is flush and lined up again, then you can clamp it and screw it together. Once I glue and screw the pieces together, I'm totally comfortable taking the clamp off and just letting the screws hold it in place.
Add the Spacers
Now your both jaws are installed, and it's time to add the spacers. Both of your three inches by three and a half-inch spacers are going to be attached to one leg. I only use an inch and quarter screws. Plus, I glue and screw one spacer to the leg first. And then, I use an alternating pattern to glue and screw the other spacer to the leg second. That way, they're all connected in a very solid manner, and I am able to work around not having three different sizes of screws.
Cut the jaws
Now, mark a 45-degree angle on both jaws. They're glued, and the glue is dry. And you can go ahead and cut that 45-degree angle from the inside top edge of the jaw outward. The reason you cut this angle on the jaws is to give your hands room to reach your leatherwork while you're sewing.
Now that you've glued the spacers and you want to make the bottom perfectly flush and flat. So you can use a small belt sander to flush them off. Now, you have both legs sitting on the workbench.
And, if you see that the side with the spacers is a bit taller than the side without the spacers, in that case, you need to take more off and make sure that they're completely flush when they're standing vertically.
Now, you can use the spacers as the centerline of the whole project. Plus, you have to find the centerline of the base piece. Once you've marked the Center, you can clamp the base to the leg with the spacers. Now, go ahead and glue and screw that piece to the base. Once you have clamped the base to the spacers and the leg, be sure that everything is square and flush before you start pre-drilling your holes.
Well, when you've pre-drilled one or two holes, then you can put a screw in there just to hold things in place while you pre-drill the other holes. I find it holds even better than a clamp does.
Now that all the holes are pre-drilled. Go ahead and take everything apart. Add your glue and then clamp it in place and screw it all back together.
Once you've put two screws in, check it for squareness and make sure everything is flush again, and then if it's good, you can continue.
Wrap the jaws
It's time to wrap the jaws with leather before you attach the other side. The leather that I use is 50 thousandths of an inch thick, which is the equivalent of 1.25 millimeters, and that's right at the three-ounce mark.
Now, you can use normal water-based contact cement that people use on all leather projects. And you can apply that to both the leather and the wood.
I like using three-ounce leather for the jaws of the stitching Pony because it's enough padding to protect your project. At the same time, it's not bulky and in the way.
Now, it's time to glue the leather on the underside of the jaw, the face of the jaw, and the backside of the jaw. And then, let it go down as far as it needs to on the outside of the leg. When you are gluing this, you truly don't know exactly where it's going to end up on the outside of the leg. So, you can start from under the jaw and put glue on that face, then put it on the inside and the 45-degree angle side.
And you won't glue past that until you have the leather-wrapped around the first two sides and see where it's going to end.
With contact cement, you always want to make sure that it gets almost completely dried on both pieces before you make the pieces together.
Now, the cement has dried, and you are set to make it to the jaw starting on the underside. Be sure to get it up there as tight as you can and as squarely with the sides as you can. Because, that's going to set the squareness for the whole rest of the wrap.
All right, you can just slowly work with the leather up pushing the wrinkles upward as you go from the edge that you started gluing on. Now, tightly wrap it around the top of the jaw and let it come down that angle cut.
And if you haven't glued past that angle, you can use a scratch awl to mark where to glue on the wood. And you can just do this in a minute. Now you have your marks. You can go ahead and glue down to those marks and then start on the other jaw while this one dries.
Find a smooth object that you can press the leather firmly into the wood to get good adhesion. Now, you've done the first step on the second jaw. You can move back to that first piece because the glue has dried on the wood. Go ahead and finish it and press the leather into the wood everywhere.
Now, your three and a half-inch wide strip of leather might be stretched a little bit after gluing, which is normal. So, go ahead and trim it off with an Exacto knife as we just want it to be nice and flush.
Install the Hinge
Now, the jaws are covered in leather. We can go ahead and install the hinge. You can take the hinge three inches long if the board is three and a half inches, so you just space it with a quarter of an inch on both sides.
And then mark the holes that need to be pre-drilled. If you're building something out of wood and you want it to last, always pre-drill the screw holes so that you don't run the risk of splitting the wood.
Okay, after pre-drilling the holes, you can go ahead and screw the hinge into place.
As I said earlier, the first time, I forgot to drill the holes before attaching them to the base. And it was much harder to get everything lined up and is not preferable.
Hopefully, you have completed all the steps right.
Now, you have a 3/8 hole on the fixed side and a half-inch hole on the pivoting side. So you're going to put a larger washer on the outside of the fixed side as square edge on the carriage bolt can fit inside of it.
Then, you'll put a normal 3/8 washer on the inside and run our nut on the bolt. Now, you go ahead and tighten up our carriage bolt on the fixed side and make it completely solid and tight.
Now, on the pivoting side, you can put another washer and your 3/8 wing nut. This will give you your adjustment to open and close the stitching Pony.
At this point, the stitching Pony is totally functional.
And you can drill holes in the base of it to screw it to your workbench. Or, you can just leave it free-floating and tuck the ends of the base under your legs when you're sitting in a flat chair and work in your lap.
So, if I have to do this again again, certainly, I will make sure one thing first. That is to drill the holes on the vertical legs before I start attaching the spacers and jaws to them.
If you make a mistake following this sequence, it will definitely bother you and toughen your task. So, make sure you follow each and every step very carefully and eventually make your own beautiful stitching pony. Good Luck!
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