"This is Rock's little helper, his name is Tiger and he love helping Rock hand sewing leather good"
Rock began working with leather in 2009, after his first tour to Kandahar Afghanistan. He was looking for something fulfilling to do with his hands at night and working with leather was the answer. You see, it was in his blood. His father (Gilles) was a well known and highly respected shoemaker in the small town of Cap-Chat, Quebec, in the Gaspé Peninsula. Rock grew up watching his Dad work with leather in his shop until his Dad passed away in 1979 when Rock was only a little boy. Rock still remembers to this day the way his Dad would cut leather for sheath making or the way he crafted a tool belt for Hydro Quebec or a holster for the QPP (Quebec Provincial Police). His Dad told him once " Rock, many sheaths aren't that nice and they don't last, so lets make ours to last a life time". Rock has never forgotten what his Dad said; every piece of his leather work is crafted with the spirit of his Dad's words.
As Rock started working leather he quickly came to the realization that leather work can be quite expensive. In order to help pay for his tools he began to make stuff in his spare time to sell to his friends. It didn't take long for his high quality handiwork to be recognized and word quickly spread.
Rock has sold his handcrafted leather work across Canada including to people from New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. He has made leather works as well for US soldiers from Arizona, Texas, and New York deployed overseas. Within the last four years he sold 9mm Pistol holsters to Australian soldiers that he met during his last deployment to Kandahar. He is still working with Members of the Fire Department across Canada to produce custom leather Radio Straps and cases along with truck straps.
Rock is proud to know that his leather products are being used in many parts of the world including the war zone of Afghanistan. His Dad would be very proud of him too because he is carrying on the family motto of "make it to last a life time". Now, what can Rock make for you?
Rock received emails asking what is the difference between his products and big company, and he forwarded me this info for the website. Some great info was found and he adapted it for his website. Most of this info he did not write it himself and can be found on line.
We live in a world filled with cheap leather goods which are often made in the Far East or other developing countries by peoples earning terrible wages who may be living in poverty.
In this little explanation he would like to show you the difference between how leather goods are made in a factory and how custom leather is made.
This is not about what is right or wrong, better or worse, he just want to help peoples understanding why custom leather takes longer (and therefore costs more) and some of the benefits it can bring.
The opinions express are not his own and he can’t speak for any other makers of course!
Large Corporation are usually faceless entities and the man at the top probably doesn’t want to talk to you…and the peoples who actually make the items are beyond your reach…
If you deal with a custom maker like him then you are talking to one person who is in charge of the whole process from start to finish.
He will handle the whole order from initial contact through the design and implementation and he will be the one who packages and posts it for you once it is ready.
Most big companies only offer certain items, they will not make you something to your own design and they will not alter their existing designs to your tastes. He can and will make you something very unique.
For big company materials are one of the highest costs, if they can buy cheap leather and use cheap thread this could add up to saving of Millions of dollars per years.
Most mass produced goods are also made using chrome (mineral) tanned leather. It is OK but it is also quick to produce as it can be tanned in large container in less than a day and hence is cheaper.
He only buys the best premium cowhide leather and thread in Canada and/or in the United States that he can get his hands on. He only use vegetable tanned leather for all his items which costs more as it takes months to tan in large pits.
Large companies will usually create patterns and then have clicking dies made, a clicking dies is like a biscuit cutter for pastry only for leather. They are used with a large machine know as a clicking press. Cutting out pattern pieces with dies and a press takes seconds…it also allows companies to make identical parts as well as save time. He has to cut everything out by hand, it takes much longer but it does give flexibility.
Not all customers like to have stamping or tooling on their items, but with a custom made item the option is there if you would like it.
As an example the other day a customer told him he purchased a belt at the local Wal-Mart that was stamped “genuine leather”. The belt was 4mm thick, which was 2mm cardboard sandwich between 1mm of genuine leather on each side all for only $29.99 what a deal….really?
Very large companies are likely to only work with pre-dyes and finished leather. That means that the leather comes from the supplier already dyed and finished they do not have to complete those steps. Usually only one color is available. Not working with pre-dyed leather adds a lots of step and hence time to the progress.
As Henry Ford mention back in 1909 “You can have any color as long as it is Black”
Large companies stitch leather with a sewing machine just the same as a company making clothes would. This is because it is impractical and uneconomical for them to stich items by hand. A leather sewing machine works by creating a lock stich the same as a normal sewing machine so there is an upper thread and a lower thread which loop over each other in the middle of the material. Sewing with a machine is quick.
Some companies refer to their products as “hand stitched” when they mean a person has sewn it with a sewing machine. This is not what he call hand stitching; hand stitching doesn’t involve any machinery. He sew everything by hand using traditional saddle stich. Saddle stich is generally seen as superior to machine stich as the threads cross each other in every hole. This mean that if a stich wears through the whole seam should not unravel as it could with machine stich. Machine sewn leather products are still very good and many people will argue that there is nothing wrong with them. This can be true, but saddle stich will always be better.
Most factories either don’t bother to finish the edges at all and just leave a cut edge, or they apply a painted edge finish. Wherever possible he round and burnish all his edges by hand. It takes time but it created a smooth shiny edge that feels better to the touch and helps to prevent moisture and dirt from entering the grain of the leather. Most factories will not do this because it is one of the most difficult things to automate and is hard to do by machine. There is no substitute for time and elbow grease here.
Remember it is not about different approaches being right or wrong you can make your own minds up about what you think is best. Hopefully you can see why making things by hand takes longer, and time is money of course, this is why custom item s will cost you a little more. The same could be said of many crafts.
So the belt at the local Wal-Mart for only $29.99 will last you if you are lucky two months, the one he will make you for approx. $85.00 will be “genuine leather” no cardboard because he cut it from the cowhide himself and it will last you a life time.
"Tiger after a long day of sewing"
Copyright © Rock Leather Works.
All rights reserved.