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Yes , it’s another post about my clothing purchases. Contain yourselves.

I loved this skirt. I bought it when I was 16 or 17 , when I apparently thought “sexy” was an ankle-length, gathered-waist suede skirt. (Nothing like being completely covered in cow hide to attract a young man, eh?) I wore it throughout college , but it seems to have shrunk. I haven’t been able to fit into it for 15 years (and I’m not sure I’d want to wear it now, anyway). But I hung onto it, moving it from apartment to apartment, and finally to the auxiliary closet in my house (where all my old clothes go to die).

But now, I’m glad I kept it. The buttery brown suede is just the thing for lining one’s vise faces (though the first cut was a little painful to make). Here’s how to do it (with thanks to Editor Chris Schwarz for the lesson , and for the record, those are his hairy knuckles in some of the pictures, not mine):

Measure the vise chop, then cut the suede to fit. If you can’t get it cut perfectly, it’s better to err on the side of a little small, as you don’t want bits of suede hanging over the edges of your vise chop.

Then, grab a sheet of wax paper and tape it in place opposite the chop’s face; this will keep the glue from sticking to the leg and top of your bench. Grab the yellow glue (though if you’re not afraid to mix your cows, hide glue would work, too), and squeeze a goodly amount onto the backside of the suede, and spread it out. Pay careful attention to the edges , that’s where it’s most important that you get enough glue for a good bond.

Now apply the sticky-backed leather to the face of your chop and smooth out all wrinkles. If your vise chop cinches tight along all its face to the benchtop and leg, go ahead and cinch it tight and let to glue set for an hour or so. If, as on my leg vise, you have a parallel guide that pivots the vise slightly toward the top edge of your bench, insert a block of wood that’s as deep as the suede-covered face, cover it with waxed paper, then cinch the vise tight (that way, you ensure equal pressure along the entire suede-glued face). You can also stretch painter’s tape across the suede to hold it tight while it dries.

After a half-hour to an hour, un-cinch the vise and scrape off any squeeze-out with a dull screwdriver, or some other implement that won’t tear the suede. Do this before the glue dries completely , you don’t want any bits of hardened glue on the vise; that could mar your work.

Now you’re ready to go to work , just after you hide the evidence , and hope your mother doesn’t read the blog post about your having cut up an expensive skirt…¦for which she probably gave you the money. 

Disclaimer: No cows were harmed in the making of this blog. They were harmed 25 years prior.

– Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 9 comments
  • megan

    While the plans in the upcoming November issue are for a "full-size" bench, we shortened the legs on this one so it’s the perfect height for me to use with handplanes. Its looks cute and petite alongside the "manlier" benches in the shop. I’m happy to say, I no longer have the wear platform boots to build stuff!

  • Michael Domville

    In all the pictures of the new workbench for Megan, there is no sign of the stool that she has to stand on to reach. Or has she started wearing 9" heels?

  • Berkeley Campbell

    Another good use for old seude, It makes a super strop for sharpening. It is generally thin enough that it will not "roll"the edge on a blade. Just glue it to a flat piece of wood, apply compound and sharpen away. I also used a peice on the other side with the smooth side out for final honing.

  • Mike Siemsen

    After reading Kari Hultman’s post on " Village Carpenter" I think you had better drop your skirt and get to practicing on your boring for WIA!

  • Chris Schwarz


    When Megan wasn’t looking, I tried to wear the skirt. Your mental imagery is not far off.

    It was indeed very unsettling.


  • Dennis Cloutier

    The unnerving thing about your fashion related posts is that I’m reading them in google reader. In google reader all of this blog’s posts show up under a line that says "by Chris Schwartz". So I’m momentarily left with the image of Chris wearing a suede skirt before I realize that it is your post. Very unsettling.


  • megan

    Thanks or the tip Bill; I’ll try that on the next bench…or when the PVA loses its grip on this one.

    And Parris, I did actually get the skirt on, and get it buttoned – and felt like I’d stepped back into a period drama featuring corset-wearing women; I couldn’t hold my breath long enough for a picture to be taken.

  • parris


    I think that in order to incorporate your love of fashion with future blog posts, the new rule should be that you have to be photographed wearing the item. You know, to complete the whole "Before & After" photo montage.

    When is the post about making your own shop apron out of suede remnants due?


  • Bill Dalton

    Next time try contact cement. I’ve run the gamit of leather craft from leather bikini’s to custom fit shoulder holsters. While I closed my business 20 some years ago I still have to do stuff around the house including putting suede liners on my wife’s shoe inserts. The leather wears out before the glue. Also if your leather streaches and is to large a sharp knife or chisel will cure the problem. Also Contact cement is flexible and will give a little where glue will not. Oh and if you have to replace it, much easier.

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