Friday, January 14, 2011

Saddle Making Process by Nikki Newcombe of Black Country Saddles

Another in the "Guest Blogger" series - this time from Nikki Newcombe, Sales Manager (and SMS QSF), Black Country Saddles.  This piece was done for a UK magazine, and Nikki kindly agreed to let me reproduce it here.  Here are the steps (and all the work!) that go into making a Black Country saddle.  Nikki, again, thank you SO much for sharing this.  And readers, enjoy! 


Saddle Making Process

Please bear in mind that some of these steps are run simultaneously.

Step 1 – Preparing straps

- straps are individually cut out

- edge stain is applied

- edge finish is then applied

- beeswax coating is then rubbed across

- machine sewn to the nylon webbing




Step 2 – Preparing/webbing the tree

- webbing is strained across the tree in both directions

- straps are attached across the tree

- bellies are cut out, shaved down, machined and fix to the tree

- first layer of seat latex is glued and rasped

- second layer of seat foam is glued and rasped

- flexible points are cut out, machined and attached to points of the tree






Step 3 – Preparing the panels

- panels are cut out using patterns from sides of hide

- hesian lining is ironed on as backing

- tree pocket positions are marked and pierced with awl

- pocket areas are reinforced and machined

- leather facing and gussets are machined to the panel



Step 4 – Preparing the block

- each block is hand cut from large sheets of foam

- then rasped to form the correct shape

- then glued and leather covered

- machined onto the panel

- bottom of the panel is lined

- cord piping is hand stitched into the panel as “casing”

- panel is turned, inside out and edges level out




Step 5 – Sweat flap

- sweat flap is cut from patterns

- edges go through finishing process, stained, edged and waxed

- tacked into position on the panel

- machined onto panel





Step 6 – Blocking


- seat is cut allowing sufficient wrap over from selected hides

- seat is temporarily tacked over the tree

- skirts are cut using patterns from sides of premium leather

- skirt edges go through finishing process, stained, edged and waxed

- skirts are temporarily tacked and positioned on the tree, chalk marks are made to indicate machining

- skirts are then skived and holes made using curved awl in preparation for “blind” stitching/backing

- cantle shape is marked out and then cut from the hide

- cantle is then hesian lined and machined to the seat with welting between

- seat and skirts are then “seemed” with the welting





Step 7 – Seeming/Drawing on the seat


- skirt backs are hand stitched on through the blind holes

- seeming is then pulled over the prepared tree

- seeming is then stretched over the tree with tension from the straining pliers and held in place





Step 8 – Preparing the flaps


- flaps are handcut out from premium leather

- edges go through finishing process, stained, edged and waxed

- knee pads are handcut from selected hides

- foam knee pad are handcut using patterns

- knee pads are machined and then “turned”

- stirrup loop is cut, stained, edged and waxed

- stirrup loop is hand stitched to flap

- knee pad is machined to the flap

- piping cord is covered in leather to create “facing”

- front “facing” is machined to the flap



Step 9 – Fitting the flaps


- flap is positioned on the tree

- flaps are checked for levelness

- headnails, flap saddle nails, nameplates and fall downs are placed and nailed in position






Step 10 – Stuffing Flocking

- front of the panel is stuffed

- panel is “run up” overstitched

- panel is then “flocked” with 100% pure Jacobs wool



Step 11 –Lacing in


- metal D’s are machined into leather

- D’s are attached to the underside of the tree

- gullet foam and then leather is fastened to underside of tree

- bar hole covers are attached to the tree

- panel is fitted to saddle by inserting the points of the tree into the pockets

- “lacing in” holes are made with an awl then the panel is hand stitched to the tree from head to cantle

- Flocked panel is checked for any uneveness, by regulating or mashing.

- Whole saddle is then checked again for levelness throughout




Step 12 – Quality control


- saddle is stamped with model, serial number and of course Made in England

- Cantle badge is added

- Buckle guards are cut out, stamped and then put on

- Overall saddle is run through quality control where it is checked again for symetry, cleaned and finally has its saddle cover.







11 comments:

Sydney_bitless said...

Thats so neat! Thanks for sharing this.

Venom said...

I learn so much reading this bog, thank you for doing it. I only wish there were somewhere to read more about western.

Val said...

Really interesting! So many steps, so much work...we should take care of our saddles!

jane augenstein said...

Wow, Kitt! Very interesting post, lots of work goes into a saddle. I would love to watch the whole process and maybe run that big industrial sewing machine!
I hope spring will be here soon and Gilly's "stuff" will be gone so I can ride!!!
jane

Melissa said...

Wow - This is really cool! Love the pictures too. Thanks for posting it!

Pennelina said...

This is one of my favorite blogs, I enjoy every post in it :-D

Love from Sweden and Pennelina <3

Crayonsmom said...

Wow. I wanted to make saddle some day, but now I'm not sure! xD There's obviously very little margin for error. I guess I'd just be doing somethign that doesn't involve the stitching. Haha.

Very interesting post!

Laura M. said...

Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing ;)

Jenny said...

I have presented you with the Stylish Blogger Award! Go to http://eventingakhaltekes.blogspot.com/ for more info!

saddlefitter said...

Thanks, Jenny! I'll share that link with Nikki, since it was her post!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. It's really an interesting process.