Fireplace bellows are used for blowing air into fires to keep them going. They are a traditional item and are now used for both function and home decor. You can make your own bellows by using scrap wood and leather. This allows you to make bellows that are exactly the size, shape and color that you want. You can make the bellows as simple or ornate as desired. The bellows will be functional as well as aesthetic.
Things You'll Need
Boiled linseed oil
4 square feet leather
Draw a template for your bellows on a piece of cardboard. The shape should be almost like a teardrop with a flat space at the end where you will attach the nozzle. You can also find templates online. Ensure the template is symmetrical on both sides by folding it in half when you are finished. The two sides should be even. Copy the template onto a second piece of cardboard.
Transfer the template to wood board that is about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick by tracing the template with a pencil.
Cut out two boards using a jigsaw.
Hold the two paddles together and trim the edges so they are exactly symmetrical using a rasp.
Sand the edges with 100-grit sandpaper.
Draw a line down the center of one paddle using a pencil and straightedge. Choose the least attractive paddle for this.
Drill a 5/8-inch hole in the middle of the paddle, on the line. Drill a second hole near the top of the paddle with the same drill bit.
Draw a line down the center of the second paddle. Draw another line 2 inches up from the nozzle end of the paddle so that it crosses the first paddle at a right angle.
Cut along the horizontal line so the tip of the paddle is completely removed.
Glue the small, cut piece of paddle to the first, whole paddle using construction adhesive. Line the cut piece up so it covers the matching section on the whole paddle. Allow the adhesive to dry according to the package's instructions.
Create a tunnel between the two glued pieces using a 1/2-inch drill bit.
Rub boiled linseed oil onto the wood and let it dry before proceeding. You can also add ornate detail to the wood at this point or finish it using another approach, as desired.
Cut a piece of leather with scissors so it is 1 1/2 inches by 5 inches. Attach the hole over the center hole in the bellow using carpet tacks. Add a tack on each of the four corners. Align the leather so the center of the leather is over the hole.
Cut a piece of heavy leather that is about 2 inches by 2 inches. The measurement will vary depending on the size of your bellows. It will need to be the width of the bellow's bottom, where you previously cut the end off.
Glue the leather along the bottom of the cut piece of wood with contact cement. Add a carpet tack in each corner to reinforce the glue. Position the two pieces of bellows together so the two cut portions are realigned. Glue the leather over the second cut piece and reinforce with carpet tacks. The leather will work as a hinge for the bellows.
Fold a newspaper along the natural crease and set it on a table.
Find the widest part of your bellows' paddle. Measure from this point in the middle of the paddle, up over the shoulder and back to the same point on the other side of the opposite paddle. Divide this number in half.
Measure from the fold in the newspaper down the number of inches you calculated in the previous step. Lay the bellows on the newspaper at this point so that the wide end of the bellows' is lined up at this point. The bellows will be laying on its side.
Open the bellows 6 inches so it is laying open on the paper.
Trace along the outline of the bellows with a pencil. Then add an identical trace line 1/2 inch outside the original line.
Draw a line from the widest point of the bellows straight to the folder edge of the paper, using a straightedge. Repeat on the second line that you drew 1/2 inch outside the first line. Draw straight lines from the nozzle end that extend 4 inches past the nozzle. Do this for the inside and outside trace lines. Lift the bellows off the paper.
Cut out the outline along the outside marks and open the paper. Trace the pattern on the leather and cut it out.
Fold the 1/2-inch seam over and glue it in position with contact cement.
Cut a boot for the bellows. This fits over the nozzle. The boot should be a rectangle that is narrower in the center. The measurements do not need to be exact. Create a template for the boot using newspaper. Add a 1/2-inch margin around the template and fold it over the nozzle to see how it fits. Make any adjustments, then cut it out on leather. Add a hole in the center for the nozzle.
Fold over the hem of the boot and glue it with contact cement. If the hem doesn't fold easily, cut triangle-shaped notches at each of the four corners, in the center of each width end and two in the middle of each length. This helps it fold smoothly.
Cover the nozzle end of the bellows with the boot and glue it in place with contact cement.
Apply contact cement along the edges of the bellows and the edges of the leather. Attach the leather to each side of the bellows and secure it with decorative carpet tacks at 1-inch intervals.
Work the nozzle into the hole at the end of the bellows with a wrench. Secure it in position with a flare nut.
Attach a long, leather strap through the hole at the top of the bellows for a handle.