Hand boning leather holsters

This is a discussion on Hand boning leather holsters within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Recently I acquired two holsters, the first being an old Bianchi 3S and the other an Alessi IWB that came with the first. The boning ...

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Thread: Hand boning leather holsters

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    Senior Member Array rednichols's Avatar
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    Hand boning leather holsters

    Recently I acquired two holsters, the first being an old Bianchi 3S and the other an Alessi IWB that came with the first.

    The boning on the two holsters reminds me that perhaps some have never known how to do hand-boning properly; that is, "full featured" hand boning, including both sides of the holster.

    Here's the Bianchi as I received it.

    $(KGrHqV,!psF!O2Y(P(5BQSE8UH5T!~~60_58.JPG

    The boning is pretty ordinary, and shows how far the Bianchi company has drifted from its quality principles since my day (I know this example is after my time, because the patented hardware has received a production update). Because the strap didn't reach, and stretching the strap wasn't the complete answer, I remoulded the entire holster:

    bianchi 3 (1).jpg

    And refinished it:

    bianchi 3 (3).jpg

    Surprisingly the premium-brand Alessi had also received only a lick and a promise for boning from its maker:

    alessi (1).jpg

    (I do have the incorrect dummy in it, as the holster is marked for the 4506). The Alessi is rag-like, unlike the Bianchi, because of (1) the leather selection and, you'll be surprised (2) the moulding method.

    That's because the BEST methodology to be used for your holster -- the one that will give you a rigid holster to start with, and leave you with one decades later -- has (1) been press moulded (2) full-featured hand boned and (3) force-hot-air dried (not an oven per se).

    This method hardens/stiffens the leather. The pressure from the press stiffens the fibres,

    1976 ST (9).jpg

    the hot air "freezes" them into place.

    2010 book (19)a.jpg
    Last edited by rednichols; October 2nd, 2012 at 02:23 AM. Reason: add pics
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    The hand boning looks so fantastic when it is done correctly. A holster looks terrible - even though it might be somewhat serviceable - if the boning is sloppy and does not follow the form lines of the handgun it is intended to contain. It is easy to mess up the look of a holster if even one boning line is screwed up.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Any idea what temp they run the hot air at,and approximate time,it might be able to use a heat gun blowing in a cabinet with something like a computer fan and adjustable vent holes to control the temperature
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    Member Array mdmorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    Any idea what temp they run the hot air at,and approximate time,it might be able to use a heat gun blowing in a cabinet with something like a computer fan and adjustable vent holes to control the temperature
    I use our clothes dryer on "high". works like a charm.

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    Senior Member Array rednichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdmorgan View Post
    I use our clothes dryer on "high". works like a charm.
    Yes, a gas dryer outlet, both temp and flow, is perfect. Then dropping a mesh basket over the holster, as both sit at the outlet, "traps" some of the flow and temp around the holster.

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    Member Array Denster's Avatar
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    Between 120 and 130 degrees F is optimal. Air flow is important as Red stated. A small convection oven works but you need a thermometer inside as you can'tr trust the dials. It's also fairly simple to buile a drying cabinent with a chimney effect to provide air flow. The combination of moisture and heat releases collagens in the leather (think liquid hide glue) and essentially stiffens the leather and glues the fibers in place.

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    VIP Member Array chiefjason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdmorgan View Post
    I use our clothes dryer on "high". works like a charm.
    Heating the final product is something I have not done yet. Looks like I'll be checking that out. I have 3 in progress right now so I need to start putting something together. So are you using one of the shoe drying racks, or something similar, in the dryer? And what kind of time, or just checking it until you're happy with it?

    FWIW, I find myself boning the back side of the holster a bit less than the front. Get the edges tight, mark some lines like the slide, but not looking to bring out every little nook or cranny in the gun. And I have heard a couple horror stories from boning the rails a little too much. You end up with a zipper that has way too much retention.
    I prefer to live dangerously free than safely caged!

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    Member Array mdmorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiefjason View Post
    Heating the final product is something I have not done yet. Looks like I'll be checking that out. I have 3 in progress right now so I need to start putting something together. So are you using one of the shoe drying racks, or something similar, in the dryer? And what kind of time, or just checking it until you're happy with it?

    FWIW, I find myself boning the back side of the holster a bit less than the front. Get the edges tight, mark some lines like the slide, but not looking to bring out every little nook or cranny in the gun. And I have heard a couple horror stories from boning the rails a little too much. You end up with a zipper that has way too much retention.
    Yeah, our dryer came with a flat rack and I just use that. For our dryer I set it on high and just check it now and then. Normally takes about an hour if it is a full load.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdmorgan View Post
    Yeah, our dryer came with a flat rack and I just use that. For our dryer I set it on high and just check it now and then. Normally takes about an hour if it is a full load.
    Thanks. Now to find that rack.
    I prefer to live dangerously free than safely caged!

    "Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun. And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son." Josh Thompson "Way Out Here"

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Thanks Red we learn sumpin new every day
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    Senior Member Array rednichols's Avatar
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    Boning wasn't developed to enhance press moulding; instead it was developed because presses weren't being used. Think Seventrees and Gaylord. At Bianchi our first presses were actually shoe presses; eventually replaced by far more sophisticated items (not the ones in the pic I posted). It was only when John had the idea that hand-boning the holsters would be a point of difference for a mass-maker that we added it, in the 70s.

    By then we had worked out that putting holsters out in the plentiful sun (SoCal) changed their colour (actually gives them a suntan, so the holsters would be very red, and the belts very yellow, so the rigs didn't match; as illustrated by the back cover of their 1968 catalog).

    1968 (2).jpg

    From time to time I do this intentionally for show rigs. So we installed hot air dryers, and voila, the holsters were further transformed for the better (stiffness).

    As the story illustrates, sheer volume of production magnifies that which a small maker can ignore, and leads to innovation in processes that even the small maker can use.

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    Senior Member Array rednichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denster View Post
    Between 120 and 130 degrees F is optimal. Air flow is important as Red stated. A small convection oven works but you need a thermometer inside as you can'tr trust the dials. It's also fairly simple to buile a drying cabinent with a chimney effect to provide air flow. The combination of moisture and heat releases collagens in the leather (think liquid hide glue) and essentially stiffens the leather and glues the fibers in place.
    As mentioned, I prefer the outlet of a clothes dryer. Any kind of true "oven" (a closed box with heat inside) can turn a wet leather holster into a prune; whereas with "free" hot air (not trapped in any kind of box), you can actually forget you've left the holster to dry even for a day and do it no harm at all. It doesn't get any drier, or harder for the extended time.

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    VIP Member Array xXxplosive's Avatar
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    Hand Boning........Geeezzz......I dunno nothin' about that stuff.

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    Member Array Denster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
    As mentioned, I prefer the outlet of a clothes dryer. Any kind of true "oven" (a closed box with heat inside) can turn a wet leather holster into a prune; whereas with "free" hot air (not trapped in any kind of box), you can actually forget you've left the holster to dry even for a day and do it no harm at all. It doesn't get any drier, or harder for the extended time.
    A convection oven uses an air flow and the result is not unlike the clothes dryer. In any case any heat source over 150F is risking the pork rind effect. I like the clothes dryer idea hadn't thought of that although for energy conservation a drying box is much more frugal as you can keep the temp right where you want it with just a 60watt light bulb the chimney effect gives you the air flow for free. Agree that can leave them as long as you like with no damage.

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    VIP Member Array chiefjason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rednichols View Post
    and leads to innovation in processes that even the small maker can use.
    And it's always appreciated. Thanks for the post.
    I prefer to live dangerously free than safely caged!

    "Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun. And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son." Josh Thompson "Way Out Here"

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