Cushion Your Work With Leather Battens
I’m always looking for ways to protect my pieces as I work on them at the bench. Simple things such as a moving blanket (see my entry on that here) can save you a day of clean-up on a project before you apply the finish.
Now I have an additional defensive weapon. Earlier this year I did a collaborative project with Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted. I built the tool chest carcase, and he made the incredible lid (details on that chest are here).
When Jameel shipped the completed lid to me for installation, he was a bit freaked that I would scuff the finish when I leveled all the joints for the lid. So in the box with the lid he also included two sticks of wood that each had one face covered in suede.
I didn’t use the leather-lined battens when working on the lid (I didn’t need them), but I have been using them on every project since.
They are fantastic for protecting assembled carcases and panels when you are working on them at the bench. Today I had to drive in some Japanese dome-head drum nails into a box and these battens protected the carcase from dings as I hammered them.
I have lots of leather scraps (thank you, Roorkee chairs) so I’m going to glue them to some more scraps of wood so I have several sizes of battens on hand.
(Technical note: You can use almost any adhesive to glue leather to wood. I use hide glue – it seems karmic – but contact cement is another good choice.)
— Christopher Schwarz