I’ve completed a prototype of a project that’s been on the go for a few months now. Essentially, it started with how many of my projects start; I looked at something that someone else was doing or has done and naively thought to myself, “I could do that…”
The idea of creating a semi-portable near infrared sauna out of canvas and wood is not a new or original idea; at least one company in the states offers up this idea commercially. The soft saunas I saw out there didn’t exactly meet all the requirements I think would be best suited for my lady and I though, so I took to outlining what would. I wanted something that was made out of natural and accessible materials, something that was large enough for my lady and I to use at the same time, remained semi-portable and that didn’t cost upwards of $4,000 CAD.
The end result was something I could piece together for $700, discounting my time and energy designing and fabricating. And it’s got me thinking how much cheaper it could be if I came up with a simpler design and were sourcing the materials at higher quantities from their origin of manufacture… even with my time and energy.
I’m logging this project as something worth revisiting and toying with again in the near future. I really look forward to making another one.
Picture 1 of 68
Working with some scrap waxed canvas, I exercised some free form stitching without measurement or any real plan. Before stepping into any sort of design or patternmaking, I took some 1" diameter wood dowels to determine how well I could interface the fabric and the wood.
First things first, I began with measuring out the shotgun. In this case, I'm working with a 12 gauge Fox Savage Model B with a 30" barrel.
Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned:
- Wool liner should have binding tape; no raw edges, at least around zipper opening
- Zipper rivet missing; afraid of punch tool not being strong enough to punch through canvas and binding
- Divider rivets should have been initially punched only on one side of the canvas
- Leather stitching attaching canvas should have been brought closer to outside edge
- Rivets should have been punched at each end of outside leather stitch
- Reverse stitching should have been shorter so that they are hidden behind the binding tape
- Binding tape needs cleaning up at zipper start
- Binding tape needs more clearance from zipper teeth
- Finishing stitch on binding tape needs to be closer to the binding tape edge to prevent wavering
- Leather to be thinner on D-ring anchors, as it sticks out a little too much along spine
- Four rivets should be used on each D-ring anchors
- Stitching on leather required more consistent speed control; varied too much on one side
- Never stitched binding tape so uniformly, especially by hand
- Hatch stitching looks incredibly straight, most likely due to time spent laying masking tape guides
- Taking the time to grease the thread and needle for the leatherwork truly paid off
- Time spent, using materials in stock, given market price payment made, allowed for a quality prototype to be made, sold and used for advertising; the sale of a next unit balances my total expenses on the first prototype and the next unit, bringing me up to par
This past month has been a wide shift of gears. I now look out the windows to new surroundings in what feels like a completely different province. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly one month, but several. Judging by the content I’ve been placing on this site lately, it’s clear to me my mind has been elsewhere!
Anyways, planting roots in a new home in a new place, my first order of business was getting a studio space set up where I could put my Pfaff to work. I have a lot of materials on hand at the moment and have been putting the word out to family and friends that I’d like to see them disappear. A couple promising projects are popping up requiring measurements, materials sourcing, design work, estimating and prototyping, but one project in particular didn’t require any waiting or decision making.
When I was asked if I could fabricate a soft takedown shotgun case, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a couple years now; I was already familiar with the cases on the market, all the materials I’d needed were on hand, and I had already gained a bit of experience working with these materials across other projects. For this case to be complete, all I had to do was pattern out the design I’ve had in mind for years, grab the materials and get to work.
Here is the result:
A couple years ago, I’d like to think that I could have accomplished an equivalent result, but the me now, perhaps in a completely different place in my life, would be quick to identify all the little things that I hadn’t completely figured out yet.
I continue to make mistakes and see plenty of room for improvement, but also, plenty of things came to fruition with this project and I look forward to detailing them out.
- 30″ barrel 12 gauge (or smaller) shotgun (either over/under or side by side)
- 16 oz waxed cotton canvas, blue
- Heavyweight Irish wool, heather
- 5 oz full-grain cowhide leather
- Bonded Nylon #69 T70 thread
- YKK zipper
- Solid brass rivets and D-rings