Americans have had a love affair with leather from the Revolution to the taming of the West. The story of leather parallels the greater narrative, from conflicts to the depression, from the roaring twenties to the pleasant post-war 50’s. To us at Wexman Trading, leather is the perfect medium for us. Before the turn of the century, every town had a leather smith. During the early part of the 20th century, leather went from a craft, to a full scale industry like everything else. While this allowed for more people to have less expensive, more widely available products, the quality suffered tremendously. For the most part, handmade leather goods disappeared. In this post, we hope to show exactly how we make our items, the same way leather smiths did over a hundred years ago.
Tools. Our entire philosophy focuses on making sturdy, durable products by hand. Machine tooling is not something we do, or would even really consider. We use very basic tool to cut the leather, create a seam for the stitching and bevel the edges. We also use basic punches and setters to attach snaps and rivets.
To make a simple wallet with a snap, we first cut 3″ strips of cowhide. For this we use a draw gauge.
After the shapes are cut, the stitches are chiseled, and the piece is ready to be sewn.
We use saddle stitching which is done with two needles. The friction created by the sewing process heats up the wax coating on the thread which cools and locks into place.
After the sewing is complete, we have to apply a sealer and conditioner. We also add raw beeswax to the edges to help waterproof the item.
The end result is worth the time spent. Yes, there are faster ways to do this. No, we are not interested in employing machines. Hand made items are simply tougher and frankly more unique. This is what it takes to be Wexman.
Tom Maegdlin-Leather Trafficker at Wexman Trading