A Case for the Scottish Spyglass

Whilst up in the Highlands of Scotland, north of Inverness, I met a man who manages 100 square kilometers of rugged mountains, forests, rivers and lochs. His name is Innes Macneill. A very knowledgeable and proud man of nature.

He saw my leather work and so sent his assistant to fetch his Spyglass. The challenge he had for me was to make a new case for it.

Both telescope and original case had lasted him 20 years but the case was starting to fall apart.

I love bespoke work so I was completely on board, even though there were a few unknowns I had yet to work out. The first challenge was working out how to mould the end pieces of leather to fit inside the tube.

Luckily he allowed me to take the old case and his spyglass away so I could make a new one to fit perfectly. This was a great honour, especially as he trusted me to take care of his precious instrument.

Innes uses his spyglass for sighting deer when stalking. The deer numbers need to be culled as there are no predators other than humans.

It is telescopic, with three sections sliding out, the last section allowing you to focus, giving a crystal clear view.

The second challenge was to learn how to line the inside with felt. I’ve never lined any of my work before so off to YouTube to find out how other people do it!

Once I’d worked out how I made a test piece, which I decided could be a dice cup (anyone want it?!)

Pleased with the result I started making the case from oak bark tanned British cow leather – a very traditional and rugged leather that will last for many years to come.

It took me two full days but I got there in the end. And what a pleasurable experience it was. I molded the ends by wetting circular pieces of leather and pushing them into the right-sized cup with a slightly smaller plastic bottle! Worked a treat!

Here’s the end result:

I made a short video to show you how it all fits together…

So, do you like what you see? Do you have an unusual leather need? Something you can’t just buy from the high street or Amazon? Drop me a line and I’d be happy to chat. Or maybe you also have a Gray & Company spyglass that needs a new case!

Gladstone Bag Repair

A lady brought me this bag that was her Grandfather’s bag, made about 80 years ago. Some stitching had failed and one of the side walls had collapsed. Here’s what I did to repair it.

You can see how the side wall had collapsed. Looking inside, after removing the deteriorating lining, the reinforcing cardboard was broken.

To straighten this out I soaked the cardboard to soften it, then flattened it out and left it to dry with weights holding it down. Once dry I glued a new reinforcing piece of cardboard in place.

Next up was time to fix the holes in the corners where the stitching had deteriorated.

There were two ways to fix this. The first was to remove the metal frame around the opening, remove the reinforcing cardboard and turn the bag inside out. This seemed too big a job and I was in danger of not finding the correct rivets to attach the frame again. So I opted to wearing a head torch, and using a curved needle to work from inside the bag! Quite fiddly but possible.

Finally the bag needed a good clean, oil and wax, and it was ready to go. A beautiful little thing. I’d love to work on more of these. An absolute pleasure.

If you have an old and cherished leather item that’s in need of some love and repair then please drop me a line with some photos. I’d love to help.

Holdall for a London Chef

Earlier this year I had the privilege of making a leather bag from tough-wearing, oak bark tanned bridle leather.

It had two zips (the main one and an internal pocket), rolled handles, a shoulder strap and brass stud feet.

Here’s a few photos to show the process and the end result…

 

Oak Bag

A durable shoulder bag made from chunky Oak Bark Tanned “London Colour” bridle leather.

This is the leather. It has a beautiful colour and a very unique smell – I can tell by the smell alone that it’s from the tannery in Devon.

Before starting this commission i confirmed all the details with the customer by sending diagrams and descriptions.

My customer also wanted me to use “veg tan” coloured thread, which I don’t usually use, but I have to say, I’m loving it. Below you can see a dyed and burnished edge and part of the back pocket.

All the leather has now been cut and the main wrap-around piece stitched together. 

Almost ready to start stitching, but first l need to finish the buckles for the front and shoulder straps.

The front buckle and strap will incorporate a hidden magnet (well, actually 10 hidden magnets) to allow the bag to be opened quickly without opening the brass buckle. Below you can see the split leather with magnets glued in place.

So here’s the finished front buckle and magnetic pad that it sticks to. The pad is sewn to the front pocket.

Here’s the front buckle and shoulder strap buckle side by side. The front one is 1 inch wide, and the shoulder strap is 2 inches wide.

Finally I stitched the sides on which completed the bag.

Below you can see the inside front pocket.

Back pocket and shoulder strap below.

The finishes bag. I’m so please with it. It gonna last many many years as it’s solid and sturdy.

And here I am, showing it off in my back garden! I really ought to find a decent model!

If you like what you see and would like your own bag designing then please get in touch.

Next up… a round tool bag for a plumber… I’ll post updates and photos soon.