I am going to take advantage of the fact that I am currently working on a key fob that I want to have edge braiding on so it will add a beautiful effect of the braid itself and the fact that it will better protect the edge more than anything else I could do. This leather braiding technique is covered in the book “Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding” as plate 122. If you want to really learn how to braid, then I recommend purchasing this book. When edge braiding you must first make one very important decision…Do I want to punch holes or slits? For me, I always use slits except for the corner where I always use three 1/8″ holes. Corner braiding is a topic of and to itself which I will discuss in another post. But, if you are currently having a problem with going around a corner, post your question at the bottom of this article and I will answer it for you.
So for our purposes we will use 1/8″ slits and we won’t need to punch any holes because we are not going around any corners because the key fob is round. At the end of this article is a slide show that depicts the hard to describe visuals referred to in this article.
The 3 practical steps to edge braiding as I am going show are
B. The braid
C. Final touch
Step 1…Preparation is far more important than the braiding step because if you mess up now, there is nothing you can do to fix it with the braiding step.
a. skiving…in the project I am using for demonstration purposes, the leather is from a 10 oz vegetable tanned shoulder resulting in a piece of leather about 3/16″ thick. I want to skive both sides down so when they are glued together the final product will be approximately 1/8″ total thickness
b. using a scribe set to 1/8″ inch, I want to mark a line 1/8″ in from the outside edge. This will be the line where my slits will go.
c. since each slit is 1/8″ wide and I want 1/8″ between all slits, I am going to set my wing divider at 1/4″ so I can easily mark the leading point of each slit. I am going to make the slits one at a time versus using a 3 or 4 tong punch because the slits will be on a curve and the punch will not mark them with the accuracy I prefer
d. once I have made all of my slits on one side only, I now glue the two sides together and come back and make the slits on the other side by using the slit already made as a guide to line up the other side. In other words, place one side of you punch in the slit already made and while holding it in place line up your tool and make the slit on its pre-scribed line.
Step 2…The braid I am going to use is an eight thong braid done with one thong. This braid can be made with a over-two under-two sequence or even a over-two under-three on the front and on the back a under-three and over-two. This braid is discussed in depth as plate 122 in the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding.
a. begin by bringing the leather thong down between the two pieces of leather and enter through the “fourth” hole from the beginning going to the front of your project
b. go over the piece enter through hole 1 from the back to the front
c. go under the thong and through hole 5 from back to front
d. go under the thong and through hole 2 from the back to the front
e. go under the thong and through hole 6 from the back to the front
f. go under the 2 thongs and through hole 3 from the back to the front
g. go under the 2 thongs and through hole 7 from the back to the front
h. go under 2 thongs, over 1 thong and through hole 4 from the back to the front
i. go over 1 thong, under two thongs and through hole 8 from back to front
j. go under two and over one and through hole 5 from back to front
Now continue this process in front , always in the front you go over one and under two; in the back, under two and over one until you have gone from back to front of the last hole, finish the sequence again to the point where you have no hole to come through from the back to the front. You will want to work the needle through the last hole where it comes out somewhere is your braid and then carefully trim the thong.
Step 3…Final Touch…use your hammer (one specifically designed for leather) and lightly tap all edges of your braid. This will help the thong to relax and move evenly as the project goes through the natural bending process of being used by someone.
There is still the question of corner braiding and competing this braid so you cannot tell where it starts and ends. This is being left for another time but as always if you need assistance immediately please post your question and I will be happy to help.
The following slide show provides you with a visual of everything I have discussed above. You can pause the slide show and move through it one frame at a time, all for your benefit.