How a Wallet is Made
Making a leather wallet by hand involves many steps. The quality of the final product not only depends on the sum of all the steps, but each step relies on the quality of the previous step. For instance, the leather pattern is not cut straight, then the stitching line of the two pieces will not line up, and the stitch and final edge will look sloppy.
We take great care in EVERY step of the way, because making a wallet is a time-consuming process, and we want each and every wallet we make to be of the utmost quality.
Step 1: Tracing and cutting out the pattern.
This step is vital. Each piece must be traced and cut out precisely so that they will all fit together. However, because it is a hand-cut process, there is a measurement tolerance for a minor deviation, which can be trimmed to the correct size before stitching.
Step 2: Gluing
This step ensures that the pieces that must be stitched together remain in the proper position while the stitching holes are punched, and when the piece is sewn. Using the right type of glue (we use a water-based contact cement) is essential. Using the right amount of glue is very important as well: too little and the pieces can shift during sewing; too much and it goops out of the seams, giving a sloppy looking edge. The pieces are clamped together while the glue dries.
Step 3: Stitching Holes
In order to sew leather by hand, the holes must be pre-made. We use a diamond chisel to make the stitching holes, which gives a nice pattern to the stitch. First, a line is scribed into the leather where the stitching will run to ensure the stiched are straight. Then the stitching chisel is placed on the line and struck with a mallet to make the holes. Great care must be taken to get the tines of the chisel to line up perfectly with the guideline. There is one chance to get this right, as once a hole is made there is no going back.
Step 4: Sewing
We use a waxed nylon thread from the Riza company out of Germany. This thread is very strong and durable and comes in a variety of colours. Using a method called saddle stitching (we'll have a blog post on stitching methods in the near future) the pieces are stitched together. Hand stitching is a labor-intensive process, but the exceptional strength and beauty of the resulting stitch are well worth it.
Step 5: Edge Finishing
When leather is cut, the edge reveals the interior which must be sealed. The edges are first beveled and rubbed with wax. Then, using a cylindrical woodblock, friction and moderate pressure are applied which seals the edges. A clean burnished edge is a sign of high-quality workmanship.