How to Make Leather Water Skins

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You'll be able to avoid plastic water bottles and look-alike metal thermos with no personality if you make a leather water skin. The finished flask will hold about 12 ounces and would give a kid a one-of-a-kind water carrier for school or an adult an eye-catching liquid tote for a trip to the gym.

Things You'll Need

  • MATERIALS
  • Vegetable tanned leather (2-1/8 in. thick, 2-ft. x 2-ft. pieces)
  • Leather cord
  • Shoemaker's linen thread (6 yards)
  • Block of bees wax (5 lbs)
  • Whole barley grains (3 lbs)
  • Stiff craft paper
  • Neoprene cement
  • Wooden dowel (2 in. x 6 in.)
  • Wooden dowel (1 in. x 6 in.)
  • Hard wood dowel for stopper (3/4 in. x 3 in.)
  • Block of wood (3 ft x 3 ft)
  • Dozen small clean metal nuts
  • 6-inch nail
  • TOOLS
  • Leather craft knife
  • Sponge
  • Pricker wheel
  • Sailmakers palm
  • 2 Blunt saddle needles
  • Leather awl and small drill bit
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Sharp knife
  • Kitchen stove
  • Kitchen oven
  • Medium double sauce pan
  • Disposal aluminum cookie sheet or pan
  • Smooth dish towel
  • Large bowl
  • No. 2 black pencil
  • Several heavy books

Cutting and Stitching

  • Decide the shape of your flask. Draw the shape on a piece of thick craft paper. The mouth on the pattern should be one inch.

  • Cut out the pattern and trace it onto the flesh side of both pieces.

  • Cut the leather with the craft knife, keep very close to the pattern tracing.

  • Place both pieces of leather, flesh side up, and spread a light coating of neoprene cement on each one-fourth of an inch from the edges. When the cement is tacky, carefully press them together. Place books on the pieces and dry for several hours.

  • Use a sponge to lightly dampen the edges of the joined leather. Using the pricker wheel, run a row of marks about 1/8 inch from the edge. Move in 1/8 inch and make another row of marks.

  • Place the work on the wood block and with the awl tool or the smallest dremel bit you have, make holes at each of the marks you made.

  • Run the shoemakers linen thread over the beeswax until it is well-coated. Use the sailmaker's palm and pliers to push and pull the needles through the holes, pulling stitches tight.

  • Thread the saddle needles at each end of the thread. Starting at the mouth at the first of the outside row of holes, push the first needle through and find the center of the thread. Push the needle at the other end of the thread through the same hole, but in the opposite direction. Continue to stitch this way until you reach the opposite side of the mouth. Move to the inside row and continue around the flask. Once you're done, lock the stitches in by back stitching.

Stretching and Sealing

  • Soak the flask in a bowl of warm water until it becomes soft and limber. Use the 1-inch piece of dowel to the open the mouth and slowly pour in about a cup of barley. Use the dowel to tamp it down. Repeat until you reach the bottom of the neck. Leave the dowel in the mouth and put in a warm place dry.

  • Check the dryness of the flask. It's dry when it's hard from the center to the edges. Pour the barley out. Place the small metal nuts inside, shaking thoroughly. The nuts will knock remaining barley loose; repeat until no barley comes out.

  • Melt the beeswax using a double pan. When the wax is very hot, pour it into the flask, swirling it to evenly coat the interior. Immediately pour it back into the pan and use the paintbrush to coat the outside of the flask and interior of the mouth. The wax solidifies on contact.

  • Pound the 6-inch nail through the center of the block of wood. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Invert the flask over the nail, place on the disposable pan and slide into the oven. It will take about 10 minutes to melt the wax and penetrate the leather. When the wax is melted, remove and wipe down with the towel. Once it is cool, pour a small amount of wax into the flask, tilting it back and forth along the seams for additional waterproofing.

  • Check for leaks when the flask is cool by filling it with cold water. If there are leaks from the seams, repeat the seam sealing process. If there are leaks from the body, repeat step 4. If there are no leaks, drill a few holes at the mouth, add the leather cords for carrying and whittle down a stopper from the 3/4x3-inch dowel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Over time the flask's waterproofing may diminish. Repeat the interior and exterior waxing process. If you use leather tools to decorate the flask, do so prior to waterproofing.
  • The flask is not suitable for hot liquids or carbonated beverages with a high acidic level.
  • Use only beeswax for waterproofing to retain the container's food quality rating.

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