Author Topic: Ancillary skills useful for woodworkers  (Read 417 times)

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Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1904
Ancillary skills useful for woodworkers
« on: October 22, 2022, 10:17 AM »
The commercially available handles for barn doors had a mounting plate too wide to retrofit onto the exterior door that I refinished and hung as a barn door.

I decided to add a 1” x 9” diameter oak dowel as a handle, but I needed to get it to stand off of the door by about 1”. 

I decided to use leather belting. 

I first cut mortises in the dowel that would accommodate two thicknesses of leather (1” x approximately 0.312”).

I then cut four pieces of 1” wide belting to 3” overall length. I used a belt end punch to add radii to the ends of the pieces. 

I hand saddle stitched the pieces in two rows.  The square ends were to be inserted in the mortise and that was 5/8” deep, so one row of stitching was at 5/8” from that end.  The second row was an inch down from there. 

I used hide glue to affix the leather to the mortise.  Because of all the flexing involved, I added two small brass wood screws to each tab (on on each side that penetrated the wood and the leather). 

I am pleased how this turned out.

Because of the frequent flexing, I ran two passes of stitching in each row of holes. 


Additional notes:

Hand saddle stitching is an easily mastered skill.  It took longer to read up on the process than it took to learn to turn out competent work.

The investment is minimal. 

You need two blunt saddle stitching needles, some waxed linen thread and a diamond shaped awl.  That’s probably $20.00 at Michael’s hobby shop.  Cheaper from

The other tools I needed cost more. 

A hole punch for piercing the leather.  I got that from Osborne leather tools probably 40 years ago.  Osborne is the Cadillac of leather tools.  Cheaper versions are available online.

If you are satisfied with square cutoffs on the belts, a utility knife will work.  Cheap versions of belt end dies are available from  Note:  Any belt end die will likely require hand sharpening.  Osborne’s tools always require final sharpening. 

I dressed the edges of the leather slightly.  That required a wood edge burnished and gum tragacanth. (Less than $20.00 total).

The saddle stitching alone is useful for covering chairs.  Most videos show folding the leather around the corners, but sewing the corners makes a more professional looking job.  While hand stitching is slow, the short lengths of stitching means that it is less than 5 minutes per corner. 

Also note that saddle stitching is far stronger than machine stitching, so while you are compromising on speed, you are not compromising on strength, appearance or quality.

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