The professional-tier of this leather hobby is usually dominated by Japanese and English workshops, so it is always very exciting for me when I can feature high quality work from my native Taiwan.
Tim from Tim Leathers recently took up the challenge of building a belt around my old Cat’s Paw buckle. Let’s have a look at this very cool belt.
What we have here is a modified version of Tim’s Sedgwick natural bridle belt with hand-stitched & riveted buckle fold.
The strap was cut wider at 45 mm to accommodate the vintage Cat’s Paw buckle.
Readers of my blog will likely have a knowledge of J&E Sedgwick & Co. from England, who specialise in bridle finishing of vegetable tanned leathers. This natural version of their English bridle leather can be somewhat difficult to come by.
The leather used on my strap has been measured by me, using a Mitutoyo caliper, to be 5.0 mm thick (12.5 oz).
On handling this leather, it is immediately apparent that this natural bridle is very different from other natural vegetable tanned leathers!
The most striking aspect is the very slippery, glass-like surface. This very smooth hand-feel, however, is in complete contrast to the strong grain ‘growth’ that may be seen on close-up inspection.
Further, the leather is noticeably oilier and more supplement compared with other natural leathers…but in a much more refined way compared with something like Chromexcel.
The difference – as I have previously explained in a series of posts dedicated to English leathers a few years ago – lies in the post-tan processing, including centuries old techniques of hand-currying, and also the selection of the densest butts.
Tim uses a linen cable thread of moderate thickness, stitched horizontally across the strap which is my preference. Look at that beautiful hand-stitch!!!
The tension is adjusted well, with the threads sitting flat on the grain surface without cutting into the leather. The brass rivet and loop ring are a nice touch, and will age in time (hopefully) to match the already aged brass buckle.
Tim has elected to use a very interesting pill-box hole punch.
The holes work well with the unique, ornamental shape of the buckle hook.
The tip is nicely finished, with both sides tapering gently into the flat-edged tip.
Also apparent is the careful beveling that Tim has done, giving the strap a very smooth & refined finish. Just because this is a work-belt, doesn’t mean it has to look rough!
(Mmm, I am paler than natural leather; I need some tanning.)
It is evident that Tim has spent effort on both blade and burnish – look at that edge 🙂
Even though it wasn’t strictly necessary, I elected to give the belt a light coat of Sedgwick’s own leather conditioner. To my surprise it did not alter the colour or tone of the leather too much – see below.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this leather age, and for the appearances of the buckle and leather to harmonize!
All in all, very impressed with my first piece from Tim.
Not only is his work priced fairly, but the detailing and finish are spectacular!
I am very glad that leathercraft of this caliber are being made in Taiwan 🙂