10 Nov 2018

How long does it take to make a briefcase?

This post will not have that many pictures. That's because I did not take that many. Not because I did not have anything new to show but because I did not want to waste any time taking a lot of pictures. I wanted to see how long it actually took to make a briefcase. People often ask me "how long does it take to make a briefcase like that". Normally I would say that it takes a looong time.. somewhere between 50-100 hours maybe. To be honest I really had no clue as to how many hours it took. But I do now.

It took 41 hours using a total of 53 sessions.

I think that's a decent number. This build was a bit different than normal as I used my new lasercut acrylic templates which saved me a couple of hours.

This is the first briefcase made using a laser cut acrylic template.

I got some weights that I use to hold things in place. They are actually really handy and I use them more than I thought I would.

This is how I marked the round cut in at the top of the pocket.

The pocket is made so that it can expand. I think it is really nice as when it's not in use it is really thin

I made this clamp that is secured to the ceiling with elastic cord.

I tried to make the handle straight and then wet the hole thing and bend it.

The pockets I ended up with was not the expanding ones at the customer decided these were better:

Total weight of the bag without the shoulder strap: 2220g

Prototype of the expanding pockets. The next briefcase will have these

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26 Mar 2018

Music bag - the build


After getting the leather the next step is to determinate where to place the pieces. As leather is never perfect you want to avoid any major defects and try to stay clear of any imperfections - but not at all costs. Sometimes the design of the piece you are making allows you to hide some of the imperfections and if that means that you are able to make better use of the remaining leather that is the option I choose.

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Music bag - figuring out each element of the bag

The first bag I ever made was a replica of the music bag from ortus leather. That was nearly 5 years ago and now I'm going to make another. My skills have increased since then so lets hope the result reflects that.


Trying to match colors are a pain in the ass. Having said that it's also kind of fun. In this case I had an old mix of color from this bag that when diluted with denatured alcohol gave the right color.

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17 Feb 2018

Another Classic Briefcase


Having build a few of these already does it make sense to make yet another post about it?
I think it does as the process and techniques changes every time. It might not be big changes but even small improvements can make a big difference.

A while ago I stumbled upon a domestic website that offers laser cutting in many different materials. The prices are very reasonable so I used this build to get the pattern exactly right so that I can have it cut in 3mm acrylic.
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9 Oct 2017

Patina development of "Briefcase with 3 piece gusset"


After only 8 months the briefcase has darkened a considerable amount. The polished brass has also oxidized to a rich dark color.

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27 Aug 2017

Classic English Briefcase with a slightly different design No.2


The briefcase I'm going to make is a replica of this briefcase. It is basically the same as this one but with a longer flap, different color and thread. In this build I'm also going to use Natural Veg Tanned Tooling Butt from metropolitan leather with a thickness of 3,5mm and with a smooth finish applied to the flesh side much like the leather I normally use.
I had planned to make the gusset of Natural Veg Tanned Tooling Shoulder also from metropolitan in 1,5 mm thickness. This a bit thicker than what I normally use but I made a test and it seemed to work. I ended up using my "normal" leather for the gusset as the leather from metropolitan was discolored when I applied water to the folds. Actually I made the gusset 3 times as the second gusset had the wrong color. Something I did not notice before it was already done

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11 Feb 2017

Briefcase with 3 piece gusset


This bag is different in many ways form the briefcases I normally make. First of all it has a 3 piece gusset which is something I have never done before. Also it is made from undyed leather which is actually very different to work with compared to dyed leather. This came as quite a surprise as I was not excepting any major differences. The undyed leather gets marks and scratches much easier. Also when bending it around a buckle it is not necessary to wet it to prevent it from cracking.

This bag is very heavily inspired by Boles single minister briefcase: http://shop.boletannery.com/collections/frontpage/products/single-minister-briefcase

Also thanks to WyntonMarsalis for advice regarding the construction of the gusset.

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10 Feb 2017

Pattern for the briefcase with 3 piece gusset

If you decide to use this pattern remember to double check the dimensions and change them to your needs. Also take into consideration that this pattern (like most of my patterns) is not perfected in any way as I only have made one of these so far.

Things to be aware of is the spacing of the holes for the handle in the metal strip. I made them 18 cm apart but it really depends on the width of your handle and the billets.

Regarding the billets I might make them a tad smaller next time. Also if you do not want the extra d-ring for the shoulder strap the strip on the billet should be shorter. This again will change how the holes in the metal strip should be placed.

For the gusset I made the channels for the bends 1,1 cm from the edge. You might want to take this down a bit to maybe 1,0 or 0,9 cm instead. Adjust the pattern accordingly.

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9 Feb 2017

Briefcase handle

The handle is more or less the one from Al Stohlmans "The Art of Making Leather Cases, Vol. 2" page xx. I made it a bit shorter and the filler is also like 1 mm less in thickness.

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