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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 17th May 2022, 10:49 pm   #1
Uncle Bulgaria
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Default Leather handles

I'm sure I'm not alone in having beautiful objects in wooden cases let down by frayed and broken handles. In some cases they let themselves down in use.

I found it reasonably easy to replace this handle which had cracked through at the D-rings. Leather of a similar thickness was supplied by my brother who had ordered some for another project. It's not the same colour, but needs must. As my sailmakers' palm was not accessible, I ended up copying the stitching holes by using a triangular needle and a small hammer to punch through the leather, making a lot of nice triangular holes in the table so I knew it had penetrated sufficiently.

This handle is made from a single length, folded through the D-rings and sewn together, over a central spine and two spacers (presumably to give the handle some bulk). This central piece was reusable, so I stitched it through its original holes.

It's important to stitch from both ends of the thread. I used linen thread passed over a block of beeswax for lubrication. The first go is a running stitch down through the top layer, central reinforcer and bottom piece, and back up through the next hole in line. The other end of the thread goes through the same holes in the other direction, so the finished article has thread spanning between each hole, with the whole looking like a succession of figures of eight from the side if the leather were to be invisible.

The D-rings are held to the wooden case by further leather straps and screws. I simply drew round the straps and their holes with a pencil, and cut the outline with a scalpel. The holes were punched.

A few coats of leather dye and some various polishes and it looks much more the part. I also won't drop it when absent-mindedly using the handle to pick it up...
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Old 18th May 2022, 8:24 am   #2
Superscope
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Default Re: Leather handles

I have a number of similar Leather items that need repair or
a refresh, but the trouble I have found is sourcing the Leather
in the first place.
Seems virtually impossible to find small quantities, and the
cost of a normal amount is astronomic.


Do you have a Photo after the Dye and Polish ?


Ian
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Old 18th May 2022, 12:26 pm   #3
kalee20
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Default Re: Leather handles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Superscope View Post
Ithe trouble I have found is sourcing the Leather in the first place.
Seems virtually impossible to find small quantities, and the cost of a normal amount is astronomic.
Try a saddler for any offcuts!
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Old 18th May 2022, 5:13 pm   #4
Uncle Bulgaria
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Default Re: Leather handles

Here're a few of handles.

You could try Starr shoe repairs in Redruth (he restitched an AVO case for me), or the cobblers in Truro Pannier Market for leather pieces. My brother is making some knife sheaths so has a reasonable portion of a hide.

Identity Leather Craft have 'craft cuts'.
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Old 18th May 2022, 6:30 pm   #5
ms660
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Default Re: Leather handles

Back in my day when we needed leather it was the tannery on the main road at Grampound.

Lawrence.
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Old 18th May 2022, 10:45 pm   #6
The Philpott
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Default Re: Leather handles

I bought lengths of leather strap in different colours from ebay.
I totally agree that deteriorated handles are a liability. If it isn't up to the job, it needs replacing- originality be damned. (If it's in a museum things might be different)

Dave
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Old 19th May 2022, 9:11 am   #7
ajgriff
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Default Re: Leather handles

The handle in the attached photo was a cosmetic repair as the original had a spring steel core so safety wasn’t really an issue. The leathercloth type material covering the steel strip had disintegrated but there was enough left to cut templates for the replacement. This was made from two pieces of leather, one being much thinner than the other. The thin leather was recovered from a broken belt and the thicker piece was an off-cut from a new drive belt for an ancient lathe. The two pieces were glued either side of the steel strip. The stitch effect is entirely false. It was created by scoring two lines in the thick leather and using a sharp centre punch to fabricate evenly spaced indentations along the lines. Looks quite realistic without close inspection. As the stitching is false it was important to use good strong flexible glue and for this handle I successfully used Unibond Repair Extreme (Henkel Group) but I believe it’s is no longer available. Although I’ve not tried it there’s a similar Henkel product branded Loctite Extreme Glue which would probably have worked just as well.

Incidentally the outer surfaces of the chromed end caps were badly rusted through to the steel so I turned them inside out and used wire wool to reveal the brass plating.

Alan
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Old 21st May 2022, 12:00 pm   #8
Tim
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Default Re: Leather handles

Various sizes of replacement leather handles are available for guitar amps. Might be worth checking suppliers who deal in that type of thing.
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Old 17th Jul 2022, 4:53 am   #9
FrankB
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Default Re: Leather handles

For replacement of flat leather handles I go to my local charity shops and buy leather belts that are of the desired width, or wider, and trim to size.
One can get leather dye if you wish it to be another colour.
The biggest caveat is to be sure the belt is REAL leather, not some similar knockoff of plastic or a faux leather.
I avoid anything that shows obvious stitches, as that is generally way too flimsy to do the job.
price generally runs from $USD 1.00 to 5.00, and I can make several handles from one belt.
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Old 17th Jul 2022, 10:07 am   #10
Craig Sawyers
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Default Re: Leather handles

The handles on older Tektronix oscilloscopes look like leather, but were in fact Leatherette.

As such they perish mercilessly over many decades, leaving the metal reinforcing strap. That cuts into hands a treat and needs gloves to hoik the thing around.

Craig
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Old 17th Jul 2022, 10:37 am   #11
JonSnell
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Default Re: Leather handles

A Saddlery or at least a stable will let you know where to purchase off cuts that are too small for saddles or belts but if about a foot long can fold and stitch to make perfect handles.
Most country towns or villages know where the nearest saddlery is. Or ask at a blacksmith.
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Old 25th Jul 2022, 4:06 pm   #12
McMurdo
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Default Re: Leather handles

For broken AVO leather-case handles, the local cobbler used to make up new ones for us, very authentic and done in no time
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