Document case number two

This is my second Pendragon document case they are made from very high quality leather although the stitching only seems to last for around 50 years.

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This case had been repaired in the past with some thread normally used in shoe repairs. This is the heavier white coloured thread that can be seen along the bottom and at the corners.

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My original plan for this case was to add it to my collection however there is another project that I wish to make and to do that I must clear some space so I have decided to sell this case after restoration.
I have already purchased red suede for the interior but once I have started I am not so sure it is more brown than red something is telling me cognac might better colour for this project.

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After hours of cutting and unpicking and a wash and brush up with saddle soap here are all of the pieces the saddle soap has removed all of the old wax and dirt. I have given the pieces a good coat of Aussie leather conditioner to replace some of the oils and waxes. Tis will be left overnight to soak in.

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The handle needs some attention as it is split along the bottom so I will be recovering that.

These handles have a metal core that is joined only at the bottom the sides open up to allow two pieces of leather that have been sewn together to be inserted into the bottom of the handle. Then the sides are pulled up tight closing the handle and trapping the bottom piece in place.
I will try to explain better with pictures.

This is the exploded view of the handle assembly

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This is the metal core of the handle after a little cleaning

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There are little brass bushes that fit inside these cups

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Both the inside and the outside are wrapped in leather around these bushings.

There is some paint residue as well as some type of coating on the handle.

I soaked some small pieces of leather to form around the inside of the handle once the leather was supple I pushed it into place inside the handle. Then I filled the void with kitchen towel and the tied it together with a scrap of leather.

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As you can see the leather has turned black where the wet leather came into contact with the metal of the handle. So I decided to paint the whole thing.

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After painting I had to scuff the surface to allow the glue to stick

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Once the glue had dried I was able to remove the thong and the packing and the leather stayed in place. I have not dyed this leather as it will never be seen neither will the paint but if I had not painted the metal the first time the case got wet the handle would turn black.

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This is the inside view of the handle the glue has dried and I have trimmed the edges

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This is the handle cover ready to be attached to the handle I have preformed the handle

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After forming I skived down the thickness of the leather pieces I had fitted.
Once I was happy with the rough fit I added some glue and some clamps to hold everything tight.

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As the handle is put together the bottom piece is fed in to the bottom opening as the sides are pulled together they grip the bottom piece and hold it in place.
Once the glue had set I dyed the handle saddle tan which I think is close I may add some red / burgundy on top to give it some redish tones.
Before it was fully dry I sewed it together using the same green thread I plan to use on the rest of the case.

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The old and the new

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The next step is the new interior I have chosen a green for this case

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I have to be honest I struggled with the green I chose it and the thread to go with it but I just could not see the whole thing in my mind. However once I started putting it together I really started to like it.

I used these little metal clips to hold the suede in place while I applied the glue. I used latex glue for this project it works really well with leather and suede I apply it with a mini roller normally used for painting. I only apply it to the leather as I have found that sometimes it can soak through the suede.

Once the area was covered in glue I folded the suede over and smoothed it out previously I have rolled the suede up onto a large dowel then applying the glue and rolled the suede out although at this point I had no suitable dowel so I just laid it on by hand.

I don’t like this way as once the suede touches the glue it does not come off easily so I now have some suitable dowel.

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The next stage is to start adding stitching where there was none previously I had ordered some stitching punches of the correct size (6 stitches per inch) after making the holes I started sewing some of this is just for show but I think it looks right.

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After the show stitching I started to sew the gusset piece to the centre section

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I had trimmed the three edges of the centre divider to allow for the thickness of the extra suedeI used the original stitching holes and used an awl to make the holes in the suede.

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I sewed the fixing straps onto the front next and also sewed around the front edge of the case next.

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Before beginning the case assembly I had to decide if a strap should be fitted to this case the owner of my first case restoration had requested a strap and I think it worked really well but it is quite a lot of work. So I asked members of F P Geeks and FPN forums for their opinions and it was decided the case should have a strap.

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I don’t keep any hides thick enough to make straps I buy cut straps from my supplier in this case I wanted a strap 42 to 46 inches long I add 2 inches for each joint  by that I mean every buckle and connector. there are two buckles and two trigger hooks and then two strap ends with holes which need top be six inches previously I had this worked out at 24 inches when it is actually 20 inches.

In any case I bought 2 straps for this project and started working on them.

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the first step was to run a grooving tool down each edge this is normally used for stitching but it can also provide a nice detail I may sew these edges as I did on the first case but as yet I am undecided.

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After the groves were done I ran an edging tool down the edges inside and outside this rounds the corners.

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Dye time the original colour of this case is saddle tan however it has over 40 years of wear and patina so I started with diluted saddle tan at 50 50 with dye reducer

At the same time I also made these I call them saddles for want of a better word they fix around the edge of the case and act as mounting points for the “D” rings for the straps

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The straps had many coats of dye and when left to dry over night they looked like this

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One of my reasons for using diluted dye is it helps to give an even coverage of the item I find undiluted dye often gives a patchy finish.

In order to darken the straps I added some undiluted dye to the straps and this gave a slightly patchy finish

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The next images show different angles of the straps against the case under flash to make the different shades visable.

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I have decided to add a small shoulder pad so I cut out some leather and glued it together after marking the slots for the strap I punched round holes at each end before cutting the slots this prevents the slots from tearing during use

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Here is the shoulder pad with the stitching chisel I used to make the stitching holes.

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Once I had sewn around the edges I made the two short straps that attach to the case I added some detail stitching to the edges which meant I needed to do the same with the long part of the strap.

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One the sewing on the strap was finished I decided to add an extra detail to the strap ends to stop them flapping around a pair of Sam Browne studs.

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Here is the finished strap

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Here is the strap with the components of the case

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Over the next few days I did a lot of sewing to put the case back together all of the edges were trimmed and sanded. they were all sealed with beeswax and polished to give as smooth a finish as possible.

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I hope that you have enjoyed the journey

M

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4 thoughts on “Document case number two

  1. I *love* this!! The green suede is absolutely inspired – it’s like a pool table color combo, so it really works. And the reconstruction of the handle is an awe-inspiring feat 😛

    It’s incredibly educational to see things like that – it really shows just how much is really possible, how many things can really be fixed provided access to a skilled craftsman.

    About the strap, I agree with the forum members – aesthetically it would have looked just as nice without it, but having it makes the case a lot more useable in current conditions, especially for anyone who doesn’t commute by car.

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    1. That is my favourite case I sold it to a lovely Lady in the UK she has bought things before so I know it has gone to a great home. I thought I wanted a new version so I made one but I prefer the old one. Those cases are very hard to find now so I have bought some alternatives. You are right the strap makes them more useable all of the new ones have straps.

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      1. I saw the new case – it’s this one right? https://my63leather.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/new-document-case/

        I don’t know them half as well as you do, but I wonder if maybe the reason you prefer the older one is that it’s much more lived-in, with that patina that takes a while to build up and I’m not sure it can be replicated just by dyeing the leather and pre-treating it somehow – maybe you just have to use it for a while. So maybe once you’ve done that with the new case, you will find it just as wonderful as the old?

        For myself, I can’t say I like this old case better than the new! They are not identical, certainly, but to me they are equally as nice, each in its own way!

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      2. I used the same leather and brass hardware as the original but it was made in the 1950s I am pretty sure by the time my case has that patina I will be long gone 🙂 It might be better to find myself another old case.

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