Featured Tippmann Customer
Name: Sam Harris
Nature of Business: Saddle Making and Leather Crafting
3232 Hwy 29E
Burnet TX 78611
How did you get into the leather crafting industry?
In 1970, I retired from the insurance industry to get back to my passion, “Horses”. I soon found that saddles being made did not allow me to sit on a horse in a natural way. I wanted my legs to be in the same position as if I were riding horseback. So, I decided that I would make a saddle like a I wanted. I located a man in Florida who had figured out how to hand the stirrup leathers forward by having the tree maker cut slots in the bars under the pommel. It took 3 trials, but after building the fourth saddle, I was satisfied with my work.
I spent the next 25 years making saddles…mostly for women, as I learned to make a comfortable saddle. At the present time, I have reduced my leather work to making albums, note pads, belts pistol holders.
How did I discover the Tippmann Boss Hand Stitcher?
I was attending a saddle makers trade show, when I first saw the Tippmann Boss. I was fascinated with this machine andoverwhelmed by the simplicity of its operation. I could not believe what I was seeing, this machine sewed just as good a stitch as a Bull or Adler sewing machine. I had used a Bull Sewing machine for many years in my Saddle making business, and it did a wonderful job. As I began to slow down and my work load moved to creating leather albums, leather note pads, leather belts and leather pistol holders, I decided to trade my Bull in for a Tippmann Boss.
Leather crafting advice from Sam Harris:
If one is interested in getting into the leather industry at this time, I suggest that you begin by taking a lesson at your nearest Tandy, to learn the basics. One needs to remember that this trade takes patience and dedication and the willingness to spend the time to learn.
Saddle Making Tip from Sam Harris:
Order the correct TREE.
If you dont start with the right tree, you”ll never have the right saddle. Its the foundation that doesnt change to fit you or your horse. I give a lot of thought to ordering the right tree. One must consider how the saddle will be used, the size of the rider, the type of horses and many other factors. I usually spend time with the customer to get the right specifications. I order the tree to fit the horse then make the saddle to fit the rider.
I have learned that there is a difference in leather. I hand pick the leather I buy, so I get the best that is available.
What has changed in the saddle making industry over the past 20 years?
The wholesale saddle manufacturers have changed the horizon for the independent saddle maker. These companies use imported leather and have ways to cut costs by volume purchasing and assembly line methods. When I started in 1985, conditions were different. Materials cost $500 for a saddle that you were selling for $1000. Though that was not a ton of money, it still allowed for a bit of profit.