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Mike Quinlan

Bellows Construction

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Are the leather gussetts used in bellows construction normally skived? The gussetts I have purchased seem thick. I have not purchased leather to cover the bellows yet so I have nothing to compare the gussetts to. My first attempt and any help would be appreciated.

 

Mike

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Gussets are usually edge-skived with the central part remaining thicker.

 

There are typically several types of leather used for bellows as the various parts have differing requirements. The gussets need to be very supple, stretchy and airtight; the hinges need to be strong and supple but not stretchy; the top runs have to be extremely durable (particularly abrasion proof) yet somewhat stretchy; the butterflies or trapezoids need to be thin, good-looking and preferably inexpensive....

 

No one leather type will suffice for 2 or 3 of those applications (let alone all of them). Each also requires certain thicknesses and skiving patterns. Most of these applications (except the cost issue) can be resolved by using the various parts of certain goat skins (such as the shoulder areas are the densest and most durable which do well for top runs).

 

The type of tanning process will also have a big effect on the flexibility, durability and gluability of the skins. Also - the types of glue are quite important as well. Hmmm... not to mention a bellows jig though I've seen decent bellows made with a bellows stick.

 

I suggest that you make at least one trial bellows before you attach anything to your good bellows frame. The best of luck with your project!

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Gussets:

 

I get good results with a good supple chrome tanned garment leather, split to about .025" and skived quite thin at the edges where it is secured to the trapezoids.

 

I use a no acid cotton ragboard for the "cardboard" trapeziods.

 

 

No contiguous, folded cards, each individual trapezoid is hinged/secured with linen, and covered with leather of suitable thickness.

 

 

Bob Tedrow

Edited by Bob Tedrow

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You can make a very handsome bellows without skiving the gussetts provided that the leather is not too thick (I have been using about .015" for these). The finished appearance of the bellows has a good deal to do with your skiving skills, but especially for your first attempt, I think skiving the gussetts would be down a ways on your list of concerns. I don't see any way around skiving the ridge strips, though. As Rich implied, don't be surprised if you have a few failures before you get it all figured out. I made five or six very bad bellows before I made one that I felt good about. :D

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I have only made one set of bellows, so I'm not very experienced. I started by disassembling a Jeffries bellows and the skiving and general shape of their parts was crude to say the least. I think they got away with this because all the edges except the ridgecaps where the pass the gussets are covered by the papers. If you make an all leather bellows your handywork is much more on show.

 

If you want to practise skiving you can go to your local secondhand clothes shop and look for old skirts and trousers. Here you would pay about $10 Australian ($5 US) for a good garment. Some are made from lovely leather that would cost you hundreds if bought as a skin. Obviously you buy large sizes if you can..! If you look at the corian you will get a sense of how it will be to skive. I have found in general the less hairy the corian is the better it will be to skive. Your mileage may vary.

 

 

 

regs

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Ghent

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Hey Everybody!!

 

Now, please excuse my ignorance but, skiving? Is that where you seperate the fur of the animal from the leather? I'm totaly clueless!! I have how ever made a set of cardstock-maskingtape bellows that are very air-tight. I am getting ready to make a leather-cardstock model but am getting worried with all this "skivi" talk! HAHA Can someone calm me down??

 

The Clueless :blink:

-Sean

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Hi Sean,

 

Skiving is a leatherworking term for paring or shaving leather down to a more workable dimension prior to gluing, folding or bellowing

 

 

Bob

Edited by Bob Tedrow

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Hey Everybody!!

 

Now, please excuse my ignorance but, skiving?  Is that where you seperate the fur of the animal from the leather?

 

 

If you glue two pieces of leather together in an overlap join the square edge of the leather of the top piece will stand proud and you will see the lump where the edge of the bottom piece is.

 

On a bellows every piece of leather is thinned out towards the edge to make for a more invisible join. Typically the skiving will start about 1/4" from the edge and taper the leather from there down to nothing at the edge. I think there are three secrets to good skiving, a sharp knife, a very sharp knife, and you can guess the third. A skiving knife is single edge ground.

 

regs

 

Chris

Edited by Chris Ghent

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I use a no acid cotton ragboard for the "cardboard" trapeziods.

 

No contiguous, folded cards, each individual trapezoid is hinged/secured with linen, and covered with leather of suitable thickness.

 

 

Bob Tedrow

How about a couple of hints for a "newbie" to this? What weight of cotton ragboard do you use? Where can it be purchased? What kind of glue do you use to glue the linen to the cardstock?

 

Do I assume that the airtightness comes from the leather covering and not from the cardstock bellows?

 

Bill Taffe

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How about a couple of hints for a "newbie" to this?  What weight of cotton ragboard do you use?  Where can it be purchased?  What kind of glue do you use to glue the linen to the cardstock?

 

Do I assume that the airtightness comes from the leather covering and not from the cardstock bellows?

 

 

I use museum qualitycotton ragboard available from art supply houses. It is about .050" thick. I use hot hide glue to glue the linen to the cards.

 

The card stock is quite airtight and needs no ornamental leather covering.

 

Bob Tedrow

Edited by Bob Tedrow

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How about a couple of hints for a "newbie" to this?  What weight of cotton ragboard do you use?  Where can it be purchased?  What kind of glue do you use to glue the linen to the cardstock?

 

Do I assume that the airtightness comes from the leather covering and not from the cardstock bellows?

 

 

I use museum qualitycotton ragboard available from art supply houses. It is about .050" thick. I use hot hide glue to glue the linen to the cards.

 

The card stock is quite airtight and needs no ornamental leather covering.

 

Bob Tedrow

Thanks Bob.

 

And the linen is airtight?

 

Bill

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