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Hello everyone,

 

My apologies if this question has already been discussed elsewhere, my searching revealed nothing.

 

For my own entertainment, I'm trying to make a concertina bellows. So far I've found sourcing leather at anything like the appropriate thickness for gussets to be rather tricky.

 

Can anyone here recommend a leather merchant who can help?

 

For reasons of my own perverse nature, I'm hoping to cut my own gussets from a bigger bit of leather rather than buy precut ones from the concertina spares website.

 

Much obliged for any pointers you can offer.

Matt.

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Hi Matt,Probably not to far for you to pop down to Yeovil where Pittards are based.they have a large factory shop with hundreds of skins all graded so you can buy ones with scars or offcuts very reasonably.I was there last week and bought a half calf hide for cases but in the past I have bought quite a few nice goat skins and and they do nice £4 hide offcuts(or maybe they are samples) which are big enough for several sets of hand straps.Hope that is some help,David.

 

https://www.pittards.com/shop-leather/

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I have no particular connection with Pittards but the prices seem to me very reasonable if you want to practice making bellows.They do a lot of glove leather so if you take along a vernier gauge there is a pretty good chance of finding what you need.I think I paid £19 per skin for B grade.One skin will provide plenty of material for a set of seven fold anglo bellows.As Steve say you'll have to do your own skiving/paring.David.

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I can recommend pittards of Yeovil as well. I have used their leather for bellows with success, the only thing I would say is that the advertised thickness of their hides is not always that accurate. You may need to thin down your strips on a pairing machine like a scharf fix, that is what I had to do.

 

Their chrome tanned black lambs leather is good and you can get it in loads of different colours aswell, red, purple whatever. Their leather room is amazing to be in.

 

Knowledgeable people have in the past told me that goat leather is best though I have never tried it.

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Hello again, many thanks for your responses.

 

It seems that majority and locality both favour Pittards, and their website alone seems more hopeful than anywhere else I've so far tried. A trip to Yovil to see this Leather Room sounds like the prefect excuse to give the motor a spring run too.

 

Oldnickilby, your note of caution is appreciated, but as I sit here looking at my bellows I can't shake the desire to have a go at it myself, so I suppose I shall, knowing full well it's fairly pointless.

 

Cheers again!

Matt

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can recommend pittards of Yeovil as well. I have used their leather for bellows with success, the only thing I would say is that the advertised thickness of their hides is not always that accurate. You may need to thin down your strips on a pairing machine like a scharf fix, that is what I had to do.

 

Their chrome tanned black lambs leather is good and you can get it in loads of different colours aswell, red, purple whatever. Their leather room is amazing to be in.

 

Knowledgeable people have in the past told me that goat leather is best though I have never tried it.

Regular sheep including lamb is very weak across the grain. Mostly that is not an issue on a bellows except for the top and end runs. Goat on the other hand is very strong in any direction. With goat, you orient the grain of the top runs lengthwise so the natural direction of stretch is across the peaks. With sheep you need to do the opposite or risk the leather starting to tear slightly as it stretches across the peak when the bellows closes. I used sheep "skiver" for my wife's concertina 18 years ago and it is still going fine, but when I realized how easily it tore, I switched to goat, or calf when goat was hard to find for a while. Calf makes a very nice bellows, but you need to keep it around 0.6mm or a little less. If leather is thinned too much, the part that keeps it strong is shaved away. Young animals are best because you can go thinner without getting down to the weaker layer. Calf makes a very smooth leather. So does sheep, while goat has more texture even if it is the smooth finish. Calf has less stretch across the grain than goat, so for both that and sheep, you want to leave a little gap between yout cards at the peaks so the leather isn't forced to stretch over the peaks.

Dana

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Knowledgeable people have in the past told me that goat leather is best though I have never tried it.

Regular sheep including lamb is very weak across the grain.

"Regular" sheep, as opposed to...?

 

I seem to recall Rich Morse saying that he used skins from hair sheep rather than wool sheep, so I wonder whether the properties are significantly different.

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Hi matt making bellows is great fun and very rewarding i,m sure you have seen this page

http://hmi.homewood.net/bellows/

i basically copied this process but the first couple i did on a test budget just to get a feel for construction ,cheap mount board,egyptian cotton strips (old duvet cover) for cambric tape ,dyed chamois leather,gussets and ebay 0.6 leather scraps and i had surprisingly good results made for a cheap and cheerful lachenal anglo ,i'm going to make a set of bellows for a friends tiny hohner liliput melodeon but cut not folded card like a concertina

its a cheap and easy way to learn ,how and what you need and at worst you will have a set of tuning bellows

it ain't brain surgery lol

george

 

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I can recommend pittards of Yeovil as well. I have used their leather for bellows with success, the only thing I would say is that the advertised thickness of their hides is not always that accurate. You may need to thin down your strips on a pairing machine like a scharf fix, that is what I had to do.

 

Their chrome tanned black lambs leather is good and you can get it in loads of different colours aswell, red, purple whatever. Their leather room is amazing to be in.

 

Knowledgeable people have in the past told me that goat leather is best though I have never tried it.

Regular sheep including lamb is very weak across the grain. Mostly that is not an issue on a bellows except for the top and end runs. Goat on the other hand is very strong in any direction. With goat, you orient the grain of the top runs lengthwise so the natural direction of stretch is across the peaks. With sheep you need to do the opposite or risk the leather starting to tear slightly as it stretches across the peak when the bellows closes. I used sheep "skiver" for my wife's concertina 18 years ago and it is still going fine, but when I realized how easily it tore, I switched to goat, or calf when goat was hard to find for a while. Calf makes a very nice bellows, but you need to keep it around 0.6mm or a little less. If leather is thinned too much, the part that keeps it strong is shaved away. Young animals are best because you can go thinner without getting down to the weaker layer. Calf makes a very smooth leather. So does sheep, while goat has more texture even if it is the smooth finish. Calf has less stretch across the grain than goat, so for both that and sheep, you want to leave a little gap between yout cards at the peaks so the leather isn't forced to stretch over the peaks.

Dana

 

 

 

if your wifes bellows lasted 18 years and are still good so far then what can the problem be with sheep? Or is it a case of the goat simply lasting even longer potentially?

Edited by Jake of Hertford
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I was just testing a sheep skin from pittards, it is about 0.3mm thick by my digital calipers and so strong I cant tear it with all my strength in any direction. It may be that the leather we have here is a bit different? Or maybe it was a different breed of sheep as someone mentioned earlier.

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if your wifes bellows lasted 18 years and are still good so far then what can the problem be with sheep? Or is it a case of the goat simply lasting even longer potentially?

 

I was careful in my orientation, but Theo is correct, hair sheep and wool sheep are different. The problem comes when you don't know which it is. Also, full thickness hides are much stronger than ones split to thicknesses used for bellows.

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