Binocular Case Redux

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In a previous post about a modern binoc case I'd built, Claude provided a link to this great old case. Thanks Claude!

I needed to make a case for my full-size binocs, so nothing would do but to head down that road. Only the one view in the link Claude provided, so I had to make lots of guesses based on other old cases (but not as old!) I found online.

This was for full-size modern binocs, but the whole experiment has me searching for a set of "period" binocs for which I can apply my newfound lessons in making another case. Note that there's no taper in my case, in line with the lack of taper in the modern glasses. I'll taper the case when I get the "period" binoculars someday.

Lots of warts in this one. Didn't have any heel bar buckles on hand, much less any iron ones. So I went with centerbar brass and dispensed with the leather strap loops as redundant.


Also used leather from a separate hide for the straps, which took the dye differently than that of the main case. Ratz, but I kinda knew that would happen and I can live with it. I don't like the strap retainers sewn on the outside like this, in spite of what appears to be going on in the photo of the original. Next time I'm going to pierce the body of the case on either side of the strap and secure the ends of the strap retainers on the inside where they'll be protected from wear.


Finally there's the price to be paid for ignoring experience and the guidance of Al Stohlman in his book to end all books about hand sewing. I've always started my butt seams from the top of the case, then fitted the bottom plate as directed by Big Al. Decided to sew the bottom plate first then run the butt seam up the side of the case. Big circus, and I'll never make that mistake again. But I solved the issues to my satisfaction.


Final bit of guesswork from the photo of the original. There's every chance the lid was sewn to a hinge panel back there. But I really like the thought of being able to remove the cap in busy times to turn the case into a "bucket," via another buckle in the back. My call.


BTW- The body of the case is 8-9oz leather while the straps are all 3oz. A 9 oz strap is just too heavy, so in order to keep the dye jobs straight on the next case, I'll split or "skive" the thicker leather down to 3-4oz for straps.

One final thought worth passing along. I grew up using semi-circular needles for sewing butt seams and hated every minute of it. After all these years I finally followed Stohlman's advice and made my own curved needles. No fear of butt seams ever again! I've also hated the curved awls previously available, but Tandy's curved model in their new Pro Line resolved all that, too. I tossed all those things on top of Stohlman's great book for this photo.
 

Bagman

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Hats off to you!!! :hatsoff:

That's really great workmanship. You should be very proud....
 
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FINE Job, Brown Bear,

You may not have thought about it, but to get even more period examples of binocular cases, try the google link below for Civil War Binoculars and cases. It seems almost every Federal Infantry Officer and some Cavalry Officers bought his own pair and many Confederate Officers did as well.
https://search.aol.com/aol/image?q=civil+war+binocular+case&s_chn=prt_bon&v_t=comsearch

I studied these for a while back in the 80's when I thought about buying a pair for my Confederate Infantry Officer's Impression, though I never got around to buying a pair.

Many of the original cases have felt in the bottom and sometimes the felt is covered by cloth. This was to protect the Eyepieces so they didn't dent/chip/crack and also protect the lenses.

BTW, quite a few Officers brought their "Opera" or "Theatre" Glasses (smaller binoc's and often more richly decorated) if they had them and could not easily get a "field" pair of binoculars.

Gus
 
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Huh. Much better search results than I've been able to get. Looks like I need to be stropping my search skills! :wink:

Thanks! :hatsoff:
 
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P.S. Which curved needles did you make? Are they the two on the top left with thread attached and/or are they the two curved ones on the bottom without attached thread?

Know what you mean about curved awls. Tandy didn't carry them when I first wanted one, but I was VERY fortunate to find a bunch of awl blades meant for a "screw end" awl handle and there were three curved awl blades in that bunch. Of course I did not get the right awl handle and wound up buying two that were WAY too large, but held the awls. LaBonte explained what I needed and I went out and got a better "hand fitting" awl for those blades.

Gus
 
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The ones I made are on the top left. Those half-circle ones on the bottom are an abomination for leather, intended I think for quilting. I almost didn't buy that Procraft curved awl when it first came out, but glad I did. If I recall correctly they also sell the tips for fitting the Procraft handle. I'm going to double check and put a couple in a cubby for safe keeping, just in case they decide to quit.

Huh... Just checked on the curved tips and can't find them. Looks as though I'll be buying a spare awl and putting that by.
 
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Thanks for the tip on the home made curved needle tips. :hatsoff:

Not having had a Leather Working Mentor, I was most fortunate many years ago to learn about a curved awl for Butt Seams from the Cordwainer at Colonial Williamsburg. However, I don't know if he mentioned curved needles and I don't think he did. He may have just forgotten to have mentioned them or figured I would would realize that if you had to use a curved awl, you would have to use a curved needle. But, nope, I did all my early butt seams with a straight needle.

It wasn't until a horse shredded the end of my oldest daughter's ear in the early 90's and I sat with her while the Plastic Surgeon sewed the ear back up, that I realized one should use some kind of curved needle. I remember telling her the needles he used were very much like the needles I used for sewing leather. The Plastic Surgeon did such a great job on her that a few year's later, no one could tell he had to sew up so much of her ear.

Gus
 
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lonehunter said:
Did you harden/stiffen the leather at all?

I didn't. The 8-9oz leather I used has a hard temper right up there with saddle skirting, so hardening wasn't needed. I'd have used lightweight saddle skirting if I could have found any lighter, but it's pretty standard at 10-12 oz.
 
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From the WBTS originals I've seen, many of the cases were wet formed on blocks. That would have hardened the leather a little. However, those guys could afford to make such blocks because of the quantity of cases they would make.

I gather you did not use a wood block form for yours from the way you wrote?

Gus
 
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Good observation on the block form/water Gus. It would have hardened the leather even more. I considered making a block, but my sander is fried. This was all hand-held, and some small warts are the result. Not my best stitching job ever.

Wish I had pics.... Or perhaps I should build another for use here in AK. But down at our winter home I've come up with a dandy "invention." Think stitching pony/horse that's not a clamp. Maybe I oughta call it a stitching post.

Rather than a longjaw clamp it's a post on a pedestal with a hole in the top for a bolt. To that I can affix any shape I want- square, round, whatever. Because of the bolt it can be rotated to any position I want. Instead of clamping the leather pieces I use shoe tacks (once again ala Stohlman) through pierce points to attach two abutting pieces of leather. When the tacks are removed the holes are just like another awl pierce. Truly more secure than the clamp on a pony or horse.

Boy, the more I think of that lonely "stitching post" sitting neglected down there in hot country, tne more I think it needs a brother up here in AK. :thumbsup:
 
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I appreciated you mentioning that you normally sew the base on first per Stohlman, but this time you started at the top and it was more difficult that way. I've wondered if that would be the result amd now we know.

Interesting idea on your stitching post. Sounds similar to how Cordwainers tacked their leather onto forms to shape the leather for shoes, though yours sounds more versatile.

When I made reproduction Mexican War and WBTS cap boxes, I made forms for them out of scrap 2x4. I put a brass eye on them so I could pull them out when I was finished forming the leather. I wet the leather, tacked it down over the block outside the area I was going to sew the back on. That allowed me to more easily wet form and smooth the leather.

I am still a bit amazed how long the leather in those cap boxes have held their shape after many years and sometimes when using them in rain or snow. Of course, that's nothing like the weather you have up there.

Gus
 

ZUG

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I had a case like that with the binoculars as a kid - don't remember what happened to either???
 
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Artificer said:
I appreciated you mentioning that you normally sew the base on first per Stohlman, but this time you started at the top and it was more difficult that way. I've wondered if that would be the result amd now we know.

That's backwards! I always sew the butt seam on body first from top to bottom, then fit the base and sew it in ala Stohlman. In this case I decided to try fitting the base first, then doing the butt seam. Never again! :doh:

Interesting idea on your stitching post. Sounds similar to how Cordwainers tacked their leather onto forms to shape the leather for shoes, though yours sounds more versatile.

In fact that's where I got the idea when stopping in to bum shoe tacks (5/8" BTW). But I didn't have a suitable bench, so added the pedestal as on a stitching pony. Then thought to have interchangeable forms on the top of the column to suit an array of seam types.

I am still a bit amazed how long the leather in those cap boxes have held their shape after many years and sometimes when using them in rain or snow. Of course, that's nothing like the weather you have up there.

I bet it has all to do with your choice of finish/wax on the boxes. Testimonial for sure!
 
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