I’ve always wondered how do they do it, those perfectly shaped and comfortable handles? For my next project from the Boston collection, I am ofcourse trying to implement new ideas, new techniques and learn so much while making it. One of those new techniques I want to learn is to make those beautifully structured handles. So let’s start with the technique before I give it a try.
I am really glad I found an amazing tutorial from scwleun on imgur. He/she states to be just a beginner but it does look very very professional. Just like I try to do in my tutorials, he/she explains the steps photo by photo. Up to this point, I never knew where to begin, how to shape it and how to stitch it. These pictures are very clear but just to make it, even clearer, I will try to explain what I see and how I interpreted it. Besides, I also found some awesome Instagram photos which I will include!
The interior of the structured handles is often made of leather. This could be shredded leather with is bound back together or just any stiff scrap pieces you could find. If you want to make a thicker handle, you will have to layer the leather on top of each other, as you can clearly see in the image below. If you already know how rounded you would like it, you should glue the second, third or even fourth layer to the first layer when it is already bent. This will prevent any stress on your handle and it will keep its shape even when you don’t hold it.
After layering the pieces of leather, it is time to give some shape to your structured handle. This looks like a process you do not want to rush. Often you use a very thin top layer (to prevent it from making it, even more, bulkier) so every bump could be visible. Zukunftsaya on Instagram shows step by step how you can even make a double-structured handle. I would use my Japanese skiving knife for shaping, but also your safety beveler or Stanley knife could be used carefully.
The top layer
As I said before, the top layer should be very thin. If you’ve got a splitting machine, there is no problem. Although when you don’t have one, and only have a safety beveler, make sure it is evenly split. And don’t forget to change your blade every once in a while!! It does make so much difference. Cover the top layer with a rich amount of glue and place it over the filler. Use a bone-knife to shape it as tightly as possible over the structured leather core. Needless to say, but ofcourse your layered leather core should be held in the right shape for this step.
The bottom layer
The bottom layer could be a little bit thicker to give it some body but should not be too thick. Once you’ve held it in your hand, I think you will feel it if it’s right. There are different methods of finishing the structured handle, but that is personal and might differ per design. I personally love the handle of Zukunftsaya!
With all these examples I am quite excited to give it a try. If I don’t like it, or if I should practice some more, I would like to know it before I’ve put so much effort in a bag since just a handle can ruin it. Do you have experience with such structured handles? If so, do you have any tips or tricks we all should know? Please don’t hesitate to send me an email or leave them below in the comments!