Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guest Post: Leather Watter Bottle Tutorial Part 3, by Eric Methven

And here is the final, Part 3 of Eric's tutorial on the making of a leather watter bottle. Don't forget to take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 first.

Part 3: Hot Wax Dipping and Making the Stopper

This part deals with getting the barley out of the flask and hot waxing it to make it suitable for holding liquids.

You can see the difference in colour between the dry flask and the wet one I set on the mantlepiece to dry. This is the following morning. Nice and dry and ready to empty.

Here's what I need to get all the barley out. Metal nuts and an old bicycle spoke. Plus someplace to put the barley. My barley sack has a lot of barley in it, but if you are just making one for yourself, you will only need a fraction. I do six at a time usually which is why I have so much.

These are the type of nuts I use to act as an abraider and knock the stuborn bits of barley off the inside. The spoke is to run round the inside initially and remove easy to get at bits. The nuts get the ones that are hiding in the corners.

To start, I remove the cork and just tip the barley out into the plastic basin. Then I put the barley into it's container out of the way.

I pop the nuts into the flask, place my thumb over the opening and shake like hell for a minute or so. Then I tip it all out into the basin.

This is what comes out

Here are the nuts and dislodged barley after one good shake. Now you put the nuts back in, empty the barley into the sack and shake again. Then tip it out and see how much barley came out. Then you keep repeating that until all you get out are nuts. (If you want to do this under field conditions, small pebbles will work).The flask is now ready for waxing.

Here's what you'll need for the waxing. Worktop covered with paper. Heavy duty rubber gloves (your fingers will get dipped into very hot wax. If it gets on your skin, it will hurt.

This is my double boiler. Wax in the top part and water in the bottom part. It is essential that a double boiler is used. Even a pan in another pan of water will do, but NEVER put a pan of wax directly on the heat source. Two reasons. One, it may reach flash point and cause a nasty fire, and Two, too hot wax will cook the leather and make it go shrunken and crinkled, completely ruining it. If it can't get hotter than the boiling point of the water, it can't do either 1 or 2 above.

Now put on the gloves and lower the flask into the wax. You'll have to push it under the surface until it fills with wax. It will want to float. Get it submerges as quickly as possible though otherwise the wax will start to set on the still cold leather. It is only when the leather gets hot in there that it starts to penetrate into the fibres of the leather.

Once it is submerged, you'll see bubbles come to the surface of the wax. That is the air being expelled from inside the leather and being replaced by wax.

Gently move the flask around, flipping it over to ensure all the air from inside came out and that there are no air pockets left.

When the bubbles stop rising, you can lift it out. Be careful at this stage because it is very slippery and if it drops back in there, you'll end up getting splashed - not nice!

Invert it long enough to make sure it is drained of molten wax.

That shiny look won't last long. All that is is a film of excess wax sitting on the surface. After a couple of minutes it will turn into a milky film. It needs to be removed.

To remove it, we use kitchen towel - lots of it. I made the mistake of using my dear wife's tea towels once. Don't ask, all I'll say is it wasn't pleasant when she found them.

Now I didn't mention it before, but I tied a bit of lace through one of the holes so I could keep hold when I dipped it. Now is the time to remove it.If I don't, it will get in the way and stop me wiping all the excess wax away.

Keep wiping until the surface looks duller and keep changing the kitchen towels for fresh ones as the old ones get clogged with wax.

Once the flask is waxed, it is essential to give it a water test - to check for leaks. If it is going to leak from anywhere, it will be along the seam, where the stitching is. If it does leak, the cure is to pour a small cup of wax inside and rock the flask from side to side so it runs along the inside of the seam. Then pour the excess out before it sets. This has to be done on a cold flask of course, so it creates an instant seal.To check for leaks though, I give it a one hour test. Fill the flask with cold water, until a bead forms on the top. Then set the flask aside and check after an hour. If there is any loss, nomatter how slow, that bead of water will sink down inside. So if the bead is still there after an hour, it is guaranteed to be sound and leak free.

Here is the finished flask after I made a nice rustic cherrywood stopper, and gave it a good polish.It is now ready to wrap and post off to it's new owner.

Well, I hope you found this tutorial of use and I hope it was clear enough. I appreciate feedback so let me know if you didn't understand any of it and ask any questions you may have.

Thanks for looking,