It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of leather (only in a non-weird manly-man sort of way, of course). Generally speaking, I’m a devotee of products from Saddleback Leather, not least due to their 100 Year Warranty and their tag line, which is, “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”
Over the years, I’ve acquired a few choice items. As I sit here penning this column, for example, I’m wearing one of their Dark Coffee Brown-colored Leather Tow Belts (two different types of leather — one facing in and one facing out — with a third thinner internal strip running down the middle). I’m quietly confident this is the last belt I will buy in my life, and I say this looking forward to at least 40 more years.
In my jean pockets, I have two of their Leather Business Card Holder Sleeves, also Dark Coffee Brown-colored (as are all my Saddleback Leather pieces), which I actually use to hold my credit cards and suchlike for daily use (when I’m on the road, I carry my Long Trifold RFID Wallet).
For everyday use when travelling from home to my office and back again, I carry my Squared Leather Backpack (a.k.a. The Tank). If I’m travelling on a plane, I augment my backpack (which goes in the overhead compartment) with my Leather Messenger Bag (which slides under the seat in front of me). Sadly, the folks at Saddleback no longer offer the Messenger Bag, but you can see one in this video (I’m glad I got mine while the getting was good).
As an aside, I really enjoyed the post-apocalyptic dystopia science fiction novel The Postman by David Brin. As we commence this tale, we find the lead character, Gordon Krantz, wandering around the desolate Oregon countryside. When Gordon decides to take shelter in a long-abandoned postal van, he finds a sack of mail and a postal uniform. He dons the uniform and carries the mail to a nearby community to barter for food and shelter.
Gordon’s claims to be a real postman start not because of a deliberate fraud (at least initially) but because people are desperate to believe in him and his assertion that he represents the “Restored United States.” I don’t want to give anything away, but the end of the tale offers an uplifting ray of hope. The point of all this is that, whenever I think of this novel, I always visualize the mail sack as being similar to my messenger bag, but we digress…
I know that the preceding discussions sound a bit (maybe a lot) like an advert for Saddleback Leather, but they know nothing about my writing this blog — I seriously do love everything they make.
The strange thing is that I actually set out to talk about another company called Leather by Dragonfly. I’m not sure how I got on their mailing list, but shortly after I completed building the recreation of an 1820 Welsh Dresser as a Christmas present for my wife (Gina the Gorgeous), I started receiving their newsletters (see also Just Call Me a Woodworking Fool, Squirming in Excitement Awaiting the Great Unveiling, and Squirm No More: All is Revealed!).
These folks offer a variety of leather goods, but the ones that are of particular interest to me are their custom leather aprons. The idea is that you tell them what size you are looking for and they send you a canvas template. You then use this template to mark out the locations of the various pockets and straps and other doohickies you want to hold your preferred set of tools.
As part of this, they hold a live video fitting session with the future apron owner in which they offer guidance, insight, and suggestions to direct the design and capture of measurements that will ensure the perfect custom fit of body and toolset. I tell you; it’s like the apron equivalent of visiting a bespoke tailor on Savile Row in London (not that I’ve done so, you understand, but I have watched the Kingsman: The Secret Service movie).
My chum, Master Carpenter Bob, kindly let me use his workshop to build the Welsh Dresser. He also guided me in every aspect of the build. As part of this, I picked up a cheap-and-cheerful apron from one of the big home improvement stores (I can’t remember which one). I remember being inordinately proud when Bob assigned me my very own hook in the workshop upon which I could hang my apron (it’s hanging there now as we speak).
Bob himself owns a classic leather apron that has seen better days. If I ever win the lottery, one of the first things I do will be to set him up with a custom apron from Leather by Dragonfly. Another gift will be to buy him an industrial-grade SawStop table saw with automatic emergency stop as seen in this video.
I’ve had a couple of months off recovering from the Welsh Dresser build, but — as Bob warned me might happen — I fear I’ve caught the woodworking bug. The first thing I want to do is build a cabinet for my 10-character 21-segment Victorian Display project (see also Helping Hands Envy), but I also have some larger furniture projects in mind.
One day, I hope to be strolling around the workshop sporting a Leather by Dragonfly apron of my very own (mine will have at least one more pocket than Bob’s LOL). How about you? Are you as enamored by these bodacious beauties as is your humble narrator?