I’ve been working leather for a while now, mainly making sheathes and cases for my tools. They were intended to be functional, not pretty. Recently I’ve been trying to make some prettier things out of leather too, such as a case for my Nexus 7. To make clean lines and sow neatly and cleanly, I needed a folding bone. These things aren’t available a lot where I live, however. So I decided to make one. It turned out to be incredibly easy.
I used materials that I had lying around. Coincidentally, I got all these things from family members or acquaintances that either passed away or just stopped using the things for one reason or another. The oak weaving spools came from an old friend of my mother’s, who used to make beautiful woven tapestries. I cleaned out her garage recently and got all kinds of things, both weaving-related and other. Her husband, who passed away years ago, was a silversmith and also carved wood. She had some beautiful teak lying around that he didn’t carve yet. I think I’ll be making guitar necks out of it, I’ll show you later. the leather cord came from an old friend of my mother-in-law’s. The friend was an old lady who passed away two years ago, and was the last of a family of artistic people. She had all kinds of cool stuff. I got some leatherworking things and a lot of habedashery from her. The bone came from my grandfather. He used to make models of ships and such out of wood. He was really good at it, but sadly he has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t even remember that he used to do woodworking. This piece of bone was in a tin filled with carving supplies, gauges and such. I think he made little details for the ships out of it.
I started out by splitting one of the oak spools (that was already split) into quarters. I carved the quarter down to the size that felt right in my hand. I used a carving knife and my Lie-Nielsen 102 low-angle block plane. I could have used a spoke shave if I could have clamped the wood, but this felt more comfortable.
I made notches on the side of the wood so I could rap the leather string around it more easily.
I marked out the bone tip, sawed it off with my coping saw. I cut down the wood near the bone, and the other end of the wood, to make it look more elegant. I glued the bone into the wood with a drop of medium viscosity superglue. I wrapped around the leather and wet it with a water-soda solution. This makes the leather hard and stiff once it dries. I finished the wood with linseed oil, and then my homemade hard wax. Finally, I polished the bone on sanding paper up to 2000-grit.
And it works like a charm! The whole thing cost me no money and less than an hour to make.