The non-leather leather project: a Stitching Horse

If any of you have ever done any leather sewing, you know that a stitching pony is an invaluable tool. After you start making things larger than a billfold or some of the more complicated projects, you realize that you could really do well with a larger stitching pony – a stitching horse.

When it comes to full-size stitching horses, I have seen reference to three different types, two of which are built much like a child’s rocking horse in that they offer a full seat and have 4 legs under them. The first has a belt that travels through one of the clamp jaws to attach to the other at about the halfway point, leaving you some 8-12″ of jaw depth to work with.

The second type, called a Saddler’s Horse, has a complicated mechanism underneath the seat to close the jaws, giving you a much greater depth in the jaw. Saddle-making requires that greater depth, whereas the rest of us can get by pretty well with the harness-maker’s horse.

The third type is used mostly in the U.K. and Europe and is called a Clam. It is basically just a really big set of tweezers that rest on the floor and you hold them closed with your knees while you stitch. The arms of the clam are shaped in such a way that their resting position closes the jaw so you have to pull the jaws apart to insert the workpiece. This model offers the benefit of requiring far less space and you can adjust it to your own preference very easily. It requires a stool for you to sit on, however.

In his book The Art of Hand Sewing Leather, Al Stohlman includes the complete plans for what he calls his “Quarter Horse”, a stitching horse that rests upon any available chair and only has a pair of front legs. It is a variant of the harness-maker’s horse that has the strap going through the jaw arm for tension.

I’ve done a lot of research on this, and it has been very difficult finding someone willing to sell one of these, so I’ve decided to build it myself. Over the next couple of posts, I’ll be documenting the construction of a 4-legged variant of Al’s “Quarter Horse”.

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