Wednesday, March 28, 2007

swell cover, skirts, jockeys & seat


Once the ground work is done everything really starts to look like a saddle.

The swell cover is fit and sweat on the tree, I try not to put a slit down the back of the swell or use welts, this does take a little more time and effort when sweating the swell cover on but it is worth it in the long run. This style of tree takes quite a lot more effort to sweat a swell cover than a wade style tree would. When picking the leather for a swell you want leather that fairly thick, the reason for this is when a rope is packed on the saddle, the friction caused by the rope will wear the leather, the best or thickest/firmest side of the swell cover will go on the side the rope is being packed on.

After the swell is finished then it is onto the skirts, as with just about everything on a custom made saddle there are not set patterns, the skirt pattern is fit the each individual tree, once the skirts are cut the are laced together and blocked on the tree, then the skirts must completely dry before they are taken off the tree to be lined, if the skirts are taken off while they are still damp they will shrink.

Then the rear housing or jockeys are fit and installed on the saddle, again there is no standard pattern, they are fit to this tree. When the jockeys are installed they are spiked forward so that they fit the saddle very tight.

Now it is on the the seat, the leather is cased to the proper moisture content, then the fitting process is under way. Fitting the seat can take a fair bit of time also, no patterns are used as the seat is fit a little at a time until you have a nice line from the handhole around to the ear. once one side is fit and cut the that line is transferred to the other side. Then the seat is put back on the saddle and allowed to dry.

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