Sunday, July 14, 2019

I saw a pouch made by James Roger of Appomattox, VA on his blog.  It was an early 1700's pouch with an interesting treatment of the front panel.  I decided to make one out of some bark tanned deer hide I had done, not as refined as Mr. Rogers version but one I wanted looking like it had some age. The partitions are stuffed with linen tow.  As usual sewn with waxed linen thread
 Any way here it is. I am asking $150.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

on Gun Pouches...

I have been making and selling gun pouches almost as long as I have been building long guns and have some observation on their size and use I'd like to share.  First though, there is the historical correctness subject to dispense with.

Many who use gun pouches are reenactors.  They want a usable pouch that is historically correct and looks to be something that one would find if they took a time machine back to the desired time period.  Others, like trekkers are looking for a pouch that is useful as they take to the field or woods attempting to put theory to test in  a reasonably close approximation of what a period correct experience would require.  Still others want a pouch that matches their long arm and would be suitable for the hunting or paper punching they do.  These and other motivations impose their own requirements on a pouch that need to be considered so take the following within the context of how you plan to use your pouch.  I strive to create a historically correct pouch based on a customers requirements, while also addressing my own creative motivation for doing the art work in the first place. For the most part, if you are looking for a harness maker's work, I can recommend several contemporary makers who will satisfy your needs.  If you are looking for a pouch to carry all the latest shooting potions, ball starters,. speed loading tools, and the kitchen stove, I can't help you.

So what about the pouch.  Let's talk size.  Because original pouches for the 18th century are so rare, (they just did not hold up well to time), I can only relay what I have been able to observe and the observations of those before me like Madison Grant and T. C. Albert .Original pouches seem to be smaller than those many modern folks think they have to have.  Most originals I have seen were in the 6 inch to 7 inch square area.  Perhaps a 6 inch tall by 7 inch wide, 8 wide at the very most.  I know modern shooters are taller and have bigger hands, but really, what you need to carry inside should be limited to the bare necessities to operate your firearm and chasing stuff around while trying to load for a second shot on a hunt or woods walk is easier if you aren't digging through your wife's purse to find your keys. So let's say something 36 to 48 square inches.

This pouch is 6" square.  The wider horn is typical of F&I War horns which were in general bigger than later horns and most often stuck out wider than the pouch.

Construction techniques are varied but the earliest pouch I have seen, a Virginian pouch presented by Wallace Gusler, was basically a single piece of 6 inch wide perhaps 16-18 inch long deer hide folded twice and sewn up the side seams.  It had a button closure.  The strap appears to have been attached at the top corners of the back where the flap folded down.

I have seen and read of pouches being simply sewn with a saddle stitch down the side and being sewn inside out and turned after stitching up the sides and bottom, welted/gusseted or not.

 I imagine, though I have not seen and or heard evidence of double bags or lined bags, that they did exist in some form on the trans-Appalachian frontier.  I rather assume some were present being carried by gentlemen or men of means from the tidewater region, exploring the Alleghenies or Appalachian Highlands but in my research I have no primary sources to confirm this speculation. I also speculate that linings were lighter weight leather rather than linen or other fabric we see today.  Linings seem to serve no purpose other than aesthetics and would present an issue with things getting caught or snagged.

Interior pockets are found on some early pouches, but again my research has not turned up many examples that were not professionally made for men of means as a "nice to have" addition. I like to think I put something in my pouch and can find it later and having basically two pouches to hunt through (the pocket and the pouch itself) just confuses things for my simple mind.

As you can start to detect, I missed out on my rendezvous training so don't have the idea you need a special something for everything just because that is a neat thing to have and to show how ingenious I am to have thought of it, despite there being no historical evidence for the item in the first place.

If we talk size we need to talk contents.  Inside my pouch I carry;

- a small flint wallet containing three extra flints, a few leathers to wrap the flints in when I put them in the cock, a turnscrew, a hunk of tow tied to a 48" length of heavy linen string for cleaning my long gun.
- a small leather bag open at the top with about a dozen lead balls/buck shot/bird shot for my long gun depending on what I am shooting today
-lubed cut patches wrapped in a greased piece of leather (or wadding if appropriate)
-2 inch tin of bear grease bees wax patch lube (optional depending on the weather)

Attached to the strap I have a vent pick and a powder measure which I carry inside the pouch.  I put the flint wallet at the bottom along with the tin of lube, the ball bag and patches on top of that.  I can easily reach into the bag and retrieve a patch and ball quickly without taking my eye off the targetI do not need anything else to operate my long gun.  A 6" X 6" pouch is plenty for this.

(My personal pouch is a linen pouch that has been tin clothed with a bark tanned leather flap and a woven strap.  More on the strap below.)  Pictures to come (wife went to town before downloading my pictures of my personal pouch),

I carry my pouch on my right side as I am right handed and find it easier for me to get ball and pouch, powder measure and horn with my right hand from my right side than the opposite. I also carry my pouch high at the waist rather than hip. It naturally rides in the hollow of my waist(more so before the spare tire got there too) and my right arm tends to keep it still and from catching on brush when I move through the woods on a still hunt.

My strap is not adjustable.  As I have carried my pouch at the same spot over the years, I found I didn't need an adjustable strap any longer so when I put this pouch together I cut the strap accordingly and further simplified my gear.  I got a nice dull colored woven strap from Ed Wilde at the length I wanted and called her done.  Most of the pouches I make have adjustable straps because I do not always know ahead of time just what the customer needs or if they, like me have come to carry their gear in a stubbornly regular manner.

I attach my powder horn by straps sewn on the pouch straps to the pouch itself.  I like to only have to gather one piece of equipment when I am moving out so if I gather up my pouch strap my hor comes with it. The pouches I make can have the horn attached to them or carried separately as the customer wishes.

My bag knife is also my skinning knife and my patch knife and my ball starter and is attached to the back of my pouch. It is a great knife made by Curt Lyles and kept very sharp.  Although I now carry precut patches, you never know when you may need the knife for that purpose so I keep it sharp enough to do patch cutting service. I can use the handle to tap a ball into place when loading.  I cone my barrels so I can load without a short starter.  Less gear again.  I was taught to always keep my knives very sharp so that is a given.  I only need the one knife this way but at a reenactment like Martin's Station I would carry a second longer knife on my belt.  Probably a riflemen's knife in case I meet a savage on the way to the Port-a-jon..

In a leather pouch I like to use bark tanned deer hide.  If find it thin enough to work and stiff enough to hold its shape.  For a small pouch like I make I like a stiffer leather that keeps everything where I placed it and not likely to move around when I am searching for things. I also like the way bark tanned leather finishes.  It seems to have more character than modern leathers that are chrome tanned and is certainly stronger.  I find pig leather and 3-4 ounce veggie tanned cow leathers to also be great especially if I am making a nicer, more refined pouch say for the landed gentry or tidewater personna. Something from a harness shop in Williamsburg or Henricus.

Tin clothed linen is also an option.  I treat my tin clothed pouches with a mixture of linseed oil and bees wax to give them some water resistance.  I use heavy 12 oz. hemp or linen canvas that ends up being pretty dark looking, even dirty after treating.  I then usually add some shoe polish to add some additional was protection.  The pouch ends up being somewhat stiff but over time holds up real well and serves its purpose as well as being HC.

I prefer to make pouches for personas that would have been from the Blue Ridge or trans-Appalachian areas.  Pouches that were made by the fireplace after the rigors of a hard day on the farm or by the camp fire while on a hunt.  Sometimes, a pouch acquired from a former master along the tidewater coast and carried into the interior on the way to land and opportunity.  Or maybe, made by a young man before he left home to find adventure in Kentucky and now showing some wear from the reality of those adventures.

 A large rectangular primitive pouch, bark tanned deer hide, oil tanned cowhide adjustable strap with forged buckle, antler powder measure.  These seem to be popular,  This one is about 6" wide at top,  6.5" wide at the bottom and 8" tall. A bit of a taper.  It is lined with deer hide both inside and the flap.  It has been distress some to give some age to the leather. I worked it wet and stuffed the bottom with to stretch it out some to give the full look.

A heavily distressed pouch with an antique horn.  The pouch is made of dark brown stained bark tanned deer hide.  The pouch is 7 inches wide by 6 inches deep with a slight taper top to bottom. It has a handmade iron powder measure attached to the strap (visible just below the horn at the right of the bag).  The horn is a wide horn nearly 14" around the curve and attached to the strap. This set turned out quite nicely as I was lkooking for a "been there done that" type result.

Here is a general stype wider than high I like to make and I think this style works very well for hunting.  I can find a ball and patch quickly in this pouch by putting my ball bag and loose patches at the left corner with everything else towards the far right corner of the bag as it hands on my right side. Again bark tanned deer hide, unlined, cowhide strap, adjustable, forged iron buckle, powder measure and attached horn. This pouch measures 6 inches high by 8 inches wide.

I hope hunting season hurries up as I need to make some more bark tanned leather for pouches and the freezer is getting low on venison.

I really like this pouch.  It is a dainty thing, about 5 inches by 6 inches, made from dark brown stained bark tanned groundhog hide.  I have one just like this I made for myself that I take out when I hunt squirrels.  Big enough to carry some lead balls and patches, a turnscrew, a vent pick and a spare flint or two.  The antique horn on this one is a day horn at best and will carry enough powder for a dozen shots or so, measuring 6 inches around the outside curve.  The pillow ticking strap was dyed with onion skins giving it a yellow color somewhat indicating the bedding might have been well worn and not exactly clean before it became the strap.  This set would make a nice companion for your squirrel rifle or a ladies/boys set.  I am asking $250.

Here is a nice antiqued Southwestern VA/East TN pouch, very primitive with a banded southern horn.  The pouch is made from dark brown stained bark tanned deer hide from the shoulder area and a bit thicker than usual.  It is about 7 inches high by about 7 wide at the top flaring to 8 inches wide at the bottom and sewn with waxed linen thread as all of mine are.  It has a 60 grain powder measure attached to the oil tanned cowhide strap.  The strap is adjustable with an iron buckle.  The powder horn is  13 inches around the outside curve and has a turned antler spout and will carry the better part of a pound of powder and keep it dry.  I like this pouch as its contents are easily accessible.  Not lined and has no interior pocket. I have attached a fine long hunter knife in a sheath on the back of the bag.  The knife is made from 1095 steel with an antler handle.  For sale for $350.

Early Appalachian pouch, 6" x 6" bark tanned deer hide.Adjustable oil tanned cowhide strap with a forged iron buckle. Attached powder horn about 13 inches around the curve. Nice long hunter knife is attached to the back of the pouch. I feel this is a set typical of what a long hunter might have carried in the last half of the 18th century. It is smaller than many modern hunters are used to but when you think about it carries all you should need to shoot and care for your long arm without forcing you to fish around in the bag for something. Originals were small bags, the hunters carried only what they needed, being on your feet all day ounces turn into pounds. I am selling this set for $350.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

I made this early Virginia pouch from bark tanned deer hide, oil tanned strap, a buckle to adjust the strap length, a short bag knife mounted on the back of the bag (1084 steel and cherry handle), and a simple horn 13" around the outside curve and 2.5" diameter butt plug.  I worked the leather wet and let it dry in the sun to stiffen a bit more.  I then waxed it with brown shoe polish.  There is no internal pocket or lining to the bag. I would sell this combination for $350.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Late Spring Project:

A French Dragoon pistol for William Shipman of Maryland.  Walnut stocked brass mounted from an MBS kit.  I stained the walnut with LMF Maple to get some red in it and sealed the pores with Chambers Stock Filler.  I am in the process of building up a finish with my own oil varnish.  It has 3 coats and looks like at least 3 maybe 4 or 5 more very thin coats, rubbed with pumice in between.  I wanted to get some pictures out to Mr. Shipman and am sharing them here also.