Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Petite tooling calf

There are three types of leather that I use to make almost everything--kangaroo lace, sheepskin skiver and petite tooling calf.  Once upon a time, all three of these were available locally at either Tandy Leather...
or the Leather Factory.
This was really convenient for me, but times change and so do inventories.  The kangaroo lace was first to go.  It was brought back eventually but only in one width.  That wasn't sufficient for my purposes, so I started buying it from Melody Snow instead.  Sheepskin skiver was next on the chopping block.  Fortunately, a group of enterprising hobbyists organized a large special order, the results of which can be purchased from Alison Bennish on eBay.  Yesterday, I made the sad discovery that Tandy/Leather Factory has discontined petite tooling calf.  
Luckily, the Denver store still had two beautiful hides in stock.  I bought them both, and that should time me over for a long, long time.  Still, I'm pretty bummed that I won't be able to hand select my hides in the future.
comparing hides in 2009
I know I'm not the only tackmaker who uses this type of leather, so I quizzed the store manager about current supply levels.  He told me that petite tooling calf is no longer being stocked by Tandy, and there is none left at the main warehouse.  However, there are still some stores in the system with healthy inventories and store to store transfers can be arranged.  The price is $8.99 a square foot retail, or $6.40 for wholesale club members ($35 a year).  This really is the best leather for model horse saddlery, so I highly recommend that everyone gets it while they can!

31 comments:

  1. Hmm, are there other suppliers around the country that might carry those things or are they *it*?

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  2. zikzik-

    wow you bought two whole cows? 0.0
    do you just keep them in the garage or do you lay them out like rugs tell there all used up?

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  3. Honestly, I have no idea if there's another source for petite tooling calf. I've never bothered to look since I live so close to the Denver store. The two new hides will last me several years at least, so I'm not worried for myself. Just wanted to give everyone else a heads up!

    I did examine a few other types of hide yesterday. The 2/3 oz tooling cowhide was probably thin enough for model horse tack, but it was SO much stiffer. Ugh. Didn't like it at all. The goat was soft enough, but the grain was bigger than I like. There was also some pre-dyed kangaroo. If I hadn't just spent all my cash on the tooling calf, I might have splurged onthat. It seemed like it might be a viable alternative, at least for English saddles. Maybe next time!

    zikzik--You're funny! The two hides I brought home are pictured in the third photo. They fit nicely in the closet and do not moo!

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  4. I've bought Kangaroo lace from here :
    http://www.amazing-lace.net/store/index.php

    The stuff is gorgous. It can be pricey, especially buying in 10 metre increments, but I think you get what you pay for.

    It sounds like your Tandy/Leather factory is much better than any I've been in. I've never seen Petite calf, Skiver, or decent Kangaroo lace up here in the stores in Canada.

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  5. My closest Tandy is down in Milwaukee, so I hit it up when I have to travel for work, since I have to fly out of there. I wish there was one closer!

    I did see a billboard for some sort of leather place in town that I need to check out soon. Not that I'm doing a lot of tack, but if it's got the supplies, yay!!

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  6. That's another store I miss. There's two that are both three hours away, one in Massachusetts and the other in Montreal.

    But what are they thinking, discontinuing petite tooling calf?? Argh!

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  7. Kirsteen Haley *may* have a local source for thin calf in Florida. I could be wrong... I grabbed a hide of petite calf from my local Tandy with the black Friday coupon, mostly for the 25%. Haven't touched it yet. I'm wishing I had bought more and I suppose I should try and make that happen. Unfortunatly, I think I already *have* the best hide they had left. grr.

    The "tooling goat" is just gross looking overall. I looked at the kangaroo; I didn't like it. The grain is HUGE. I'm not sure, but it may be possible to have the store run a hide thru a wide skiving "machine". My store has one in the back. So we may not be completely SOL, but I don't think it will ever be easy again.

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  8. It is so sad when companies discontinue the things we love and need. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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  9. If rio rondo ever went out of business we'd all be sunk. Their leather is just okay, but the hardware is indispensable.

    ~Mara

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  10. Random question: how much lace do you use to make a "simple" snafle bridle?

    (congratulations on 500,000 views!)

    ~Emily Dunnan

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  11. I should confess that I didn't actually unroll the kangaroo hide and inspect it carefully. I flipped over one corner and that was thin and supple with a very small, tight grain. Unfortunately, the color was uneven enough (it was brown) that I felt it would need to be re-dyed. There were also natural and black 'roo hides. The natural ones were really thick and really stiff. I didn't touch the black. Next time I'll look more closely.

    Emily--I really don't have any idea how much lace goes into a bridle. I buy it by the spool and don't keep track. I do use three separate widths on a regular snaffle bridle--1/16", 3/32", 1/8" and 3/16".

    It's worth mentioning that there are some tackmakers who don't use any lace at all. Most of them specialize in Western tack, but I know Lauren Islip makes her English bridles from hand cut leather strips. It's something to consider if you don't like/can't find good lace.

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  12. You say that Jennifer, but I may have to revert to lace since a: I'm running out of my ultra thin calf and b: now I'm in Australia there are some excellent sources of kangaroo lace here.

    Another possible source of calf is bookbinding suppliers. In the UK there is one called J. Hewit and I got a sample of their fair calf - it is gorgeous! I couldn't afford it at the time to buy a whole hide but they do sell lower quality grades. Next time I need some leather for English saddles I'll be trying that.

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  13. One day, I would love to be able to hand-pick a hide. I have NEVER purchased leather in person! Only online! Which is fine, most of the time, but it seems like a bucket-list experience :)

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  14. I've heard that Kangaroo leather is one of the toughest types of leather for it's thickness and weight. Wouldn't suprize me given that I've seen them tightly tangled in barbed wire with barely a scratch on them.

    It's sad they have discontinued the tooling calf but hopefully hobbiests will be able to buy it elsewhere or find an alturnative.

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  15. I love the smell of leather in the morning!! Ha Ha!!!

    Tack stores are my faorite!

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  16. Just a note to let you know Quanitas Brave is going to his first live show tomorrow with his fancy halter! We'll see if it helps him against all those Stones, ha ha ha!!!

    Wish us luck!!

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  17. Thanks for the heads up!! Will pass this around to some of my friends.

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  18. Thanks for the heads up. That really stinks now that I live near a Tandy.

    Heather Larkins

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  19. That is horrible! I HATE it when something I like is not available any more, or God forbid, "new and improved" - I've found it usually isn't. :-(

    My only other input on this topic, since I have never purchased leather hide/lace/etc. myself, is that I have keyfob made out of kangaroo hide that my mom got me for a souvenir in Australia, and it really is lovely and soft. Good like with Operation Hide in the future!

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  20. Petite tooling calf is all I use....dang...I sure hope the Ft. Worth store has some. Calling them today. Thanks for the heads up!

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  21. I wonder if petite I think it's goat works. The leather shop near me last I was there had thin tooling leather but I got nice pieces out of the scrap bin instead!

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  22. I had the same problem in the UK. We have Tandy here and they sent me samples and a new catalogue. I loved the calf and when I looked through the new catalogue there was no mention of it. When I enquired they said they did not stock it any more! It's got to be one of their best sellers but there you go! I've had to look elsewhere.

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  23. I called the store in Ft. Worth that I frequent....none there or any store in Texas. However, there is a store in Calif. that has lots, on the computer anyway. I'll be calling them this afternoon.

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  24. I took a sample in of some petite tooling calf to the local guy here that made my own riding saddle. he has been looking for 3 weeks for some for my in the thinness I want. i opted to buy some off of MHSP. It is really nice stuff!!! I have heard from almost everyone that it is going to be very difficult to get the leather we like soon, so I agree. stock up if and while you can!!!! Thanks
    JO K

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  25. Hey, at least you have those kinds of shops around your area:) You must live in a great place for those kinds of things!!

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  26. I'm glad you found a store! At least you have a store like that around your area!

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  27. Keep an eye on some of those cowhides... My local Tandy store discontinued the petite tooling calf quite awhile ago, but they had a yearling calf hide that was HUGE, but was the right weight and had the same grain as the old petite tooling calf had... Only you get WAY more! My boyfriend joked about how I came out carrying a whole cow that day! :-P

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  28. I've never used petite tooling calf. I've always used 2-3 oz. tooling leather. Is the petite calf really better? Is it just because it is thinner, or does it have a better grain, weight, etc.? Can you use it entirely in place of thicker tooling leather? I'm curious, because I may look at ordering some if it is being discontinued!

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  29. I don't have a lot of experience with cowhide. However, I did compare the 2/3 oz cow with the petite tooling calf during this last visit and the difference was HUGE. The cowhide wasn't really that much thicker but it was SO MUCH STIFFER. I probably could make it work, but I really don't want to. Ugh. The thought of prepping that makes my hands ache!

    Tandy has discontinued items and then brought them back. Hopefully, that will be the case with the petite tooling calf. In the meantime, however, I'm really glad I've got a lot on hand.

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  30. Ugh, what a bummer they don't sell that anymore. I have a cowhide but it's soooo thick (I use it for full size leather tooling) that it wold be *ridiculous* to try to skive it down.
    Little pieces of thin leather are super expensive though. Sigh.

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