Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ingredients for a saddle

Today I am going to start building Anne's huntseat saddle, and I thought it might be interesting to take pictures of all the parts and pieces that go into a Braymere saddle.

The first photo shows the actual saddle "ingredients"--these are the things that make up the saddle itself. They include two types of leather (petite tooling calf and sheepskin skiver), craft felt, copper sheet metal, 1/8" kangaroo lace, sewing thread, 24 gauge wire, a pair of stirrup irons (these are from The World of Model Horse Collecting), photo-etched 1/16" D-rings (from Rio Rondo) and stainless steel straight pins.
Although the skiver in the above photo is shown in its natural state, it won't stay like that for long. Each piece of leather will be dyed and then sealed with Satin Sheen. All exposed edges will be treated with gum tragacanth and Edge Kote. The gum tragacanth will also be used during several other phases of the saddle building process. The Aleene's Super Thick Tacky Glue is another constuction essential. Although I also sew all the major stress points, the majority of the saddle is held together with glue.
Last but not least--here's a look at the tools I will use to turn the items in the top picture into something resembling a saddle. The mallet and the mechanical pencil are used to punch holes in the billets and stirrup leathers. The tin snips will cut the saddle tree out of the sheet metal. The pounce wheel acts as a stitch marker. The blue handled wire cutters are used for photo-etched parts and the red handled wire cutters are on the straight pins. The small round handled awl is used for general leatherwork, while the long pencil handled awl is strictly for punching holes in the front part of the saddle tree. The needle nose pliers are useful for shaping the saddle tree and also the "stirrup bars." I use the pen to trace the patterns onto my leather and the scissors to cut out the pattern pieces. The Q-tips are handy for applying both Satin Sheen and Edge Kote. The X-acto knife has many uses including both cutting and skiving. The sandpaper is used to both to thin the leather and also to help shape the seat and panels.
And that's it--everything you need to build an English saddle is pictured here!

(Well, everything that is except the time, patience and know-how... I'm not sure those things could be properly described in just three photographs!)


  1. It's a good thing you have the recipe for saddle making. I wouldn't know what to do with all the pieces and tools ☺

  2. I'm using a newish variation on an old recipe and so far it's working well. Progress pictures tomorrow--I think you'll be pleased! :)

  3. This is flashing me back to art class in high school... if I tried this, I think I'd end up needing to use the scissors on myself! =O

    I can't imagine the patience (and fine motor skills!) this must take. You rock!

  4. I really appreciate this sort of thing, when I was picking out tools for wire working, there were about a million different kinds and I said, "Oh, I remember Jennifer uses the pink handled ones like these ones!" So far so good!

    I would love to see a tutorial some time about how to do knee inserts on a saddle. I poked and prodded at a real saddle and can't make heads nor tails of how they go together.

  5. Yikes... way too many tools for me. Good thing you know how to use them all. I would like to see a tutorial on making panels sometime too... That's the one part of saddlemaking I can't figure out.

  6. Thanks for the topic suggestions. I've had a little trouble coming up with ideas for posts lately, so those are very welcome.

    Allie, I'll tell you a secret about the pink handled pliers. I live in a house of boys, and I've found that if I buy *pink* tools they are much less likely to be borrowed/lost/broken. Boys do not like pink so that has become my color of choice :)

  7. Pink handled tools, what a brilliant idea! I have already had some side-cutters broken (they had a blue handle) by my other half who wanted to see how strong they were....

  8. OK...I really had to laugh about the "pink handled" tools LOLOL I too, have pink tools...but, unfortunately, it doesn't help me any to keep them "mine". Actually I just like pink :)

    Wonderful posts, Doll! You are so very talented!