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Stinkin_V8 06-08-2006 03:33 PM

Wetting leather to stretch?
First time working with leather, hoping one of you pros could give me an idea on how much I can stretch it over my new panels. I hope the pics give enough detail here, if not let me know and I can provide more pics. The armrests and speaker pods are actually two pieces, they just butt up to eachother and look like one in the picture.

The speaker pods are the real concern. I thought maybe I could wet the leather a bit, stretch the bijimmies out it and clamp it to the pod until it dried, glue the closed cell foam to the pod and then glue the leather. Or should I sew a couple of darts in the corners closest to the door jambs? I'd like to upholster those pieces with one piece but if I can't, that's the way it goes.

creativeinteriors 06-10-2006 07:33 PM

before I would wet anything I would look at the leather you have. How stiff how thick is it. Thinner hide is typically better for what you are doing. Patterning is recommended for some of the contours I see but not absolutely necessary if you are willing to soften some of the rads as the work progresses. I would lay the hide on the panel and review it for extremes that may need a panel sewn in or a radius changed.

Leather most leather reacts to heat very well. But overheating will remove the grain to some extent.

The other thing to look for is flank leather on the hides you have (its the area at the perimeters of the hide) the fatty part of the cow was.

Belly Neck and such, those areas have a larger cell structure and move/stretch more.

Make sure you use a GOOD 2 side contact glue like trim and top adhesive as the tension can pull free over time.

If you wet the leather it will inevetably shrink and stiffen. I was taught to stretch panels on porsches by a man that worked on the trim line in Germany and he never considered it so I cant say what method for that type of thing even, sorry.:(

When wrapping you apply the foam first to the panel then glue the leather to foam. Start working the hide at the deepest most contoured area and heat and stretch your way to the edges. 06-10-2006 09:02 PM

Sort of related; to prep a new baseball glove, dip it in a bucket of water soaking it really well then let it dry with a ball in the pocket. This will break down the stuff they treat the leather with at the factory and will instantly break it in with a great pocket. However I would NEVER wet leather upholstery. NEVER, NEVER , NEVER. Use mild heat and careful stretching. Takes practice to decide the precise place to start and have everything stretch to the proper shape w/o wrinkles but it can be done.

Stinkin_V8 06-10-2006 09:43 PM

Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. I tried stretching a bit while it was dry and it seemed to get close. I was testing it on the flank, though. Good tip about the neck and shoulders. The leather is top grain but a bit on the thin side.

As for glue, I'm not set up to spray contact cement so Super 90 will be the best I can do. I'm using 1/8" closed cell foam as well. I think if I sew some darts into the corners near the door jamb, nobody will ever see them and will make the job a lot easier.

One more question: Do you think1/8" foam is thick enough? I was planning on doubling it up for the top of the armrest and contouring it a bit but the rest was going to be 1/8". Having second thoughts now since stretching the leather is bound to compress the foam somewhat.

creativeinteriors 06-11-2006 03:21 PM

Setting up to spray is cheap if you have a compressor. The cheapest gun at the hardware store is the best thing as looser is better. If you have a compessor you can get a gun for about 25 bucks and a 5 gallon can of top and trim for about 70 to 80 if you find the right guy 100 is about average.

I think 80 and 90 are about 30 bucks a can now adays and you will easily 150 worth of glue putting the foam and the leather down.

Brushing is only good for edge wrapping. :thumbup:

1/8 inch may be a bit thin for the armrest. I would suggest at least 1/4 to 5/8

Jake_Dragon 06-11-2006 04:10 PM

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I have seen that dash before :)

**Not mine**

Stinkin_V8 06-12-2006 05:15 PM


Originally Posted by Jake_Dragon
I have seen that dash before :)

**Not mine**

Ha! Good eye.. I've been hacking and pasting on this dash for way too long making subtle mods that probably (as you've just proven) won't get noticed. :) Time to upholster.

I recognise your username - nice to see another fieroforum guy over here. I haven't posted over there in a long time.

Jake_Dragon 06-12-2006 06:48 PM

I think I see at least 3 changes you made. You putting it in a stock Fiero or a kit car?

Stinkin_V8 06-12-2006 08:42 PM

Changed the contours on both sides of the center section, sectioned the right side and moved it out more, changed to contours of the right side blend into the door panels, built the end caps, fiberglassed the plenum and vent ducting (in progress) to the underside of the dash, built the defroster recess, built the end caps to meet factory mounts. I opened up the instrument area, digital gauges ready to go in. custom vents. I'm conteplating sectioning the instrument panel hood, the steering column is not centered in there. But I'm close to upholstery so I don't know if I want to start cutting again. And since I didn't notice for such a long time, I think I'm just being picky. :)

Everything else is home-built but I'm keeping the factory door panels and rear panel as a base. The A- and B-pillar trim's been dyed and the headliner is ultrasuede. The rest of the car is stock for the most part. Aus stage II, 3800/4T60E, 17" wheels, power steering, custom fastback is being done on a spare rear clip, maybe for next year.

Stinkin_V8 06-12-2006 08:50 PM

Creative, you talked me into it. :) I have a small compressor and picked up a cheap gun. Next I'm going to see if the local trim shop will pour me off a gallon of glue for a slush-fund contribution. What's a good offer?

I was mostly concerned about the limited use the gun would see. I figured I'd spend more time cleaning it than I would spraying it. How long can I leave the glue in the pot?

kristkustoms 06-12-2006 10:46 PM

for a gallon id offer 20-30 bucks...i use cheap paint guns, 9.99-14.99 on sale at harbor freight. i never clean the guns, but they get used alot and dont have much time to sit around. they would last, i would guess, at least six months, but we usually abuse them and drop them alot, so they usually get broken or just too smashed up in about 3-4 months.

Stinkin_V8 06-12-2006 10:57 PM

Oh wow, six months? I was thinking "the end of the day" kind of thing. That's good to know, thanks! Just clean with reducer?

lowROLLERchevy 06-12-2006 11:14 PM

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you'll be happy that you picked up that spray gun

aerosol cans take forever to cover a large area, but a spray gun will cover the same area in no time flat

edit: oh yea, just mentioning it because it cant be overstated

pinholes in the filler / fiberglass are easily covered with no ill effects .... but BUMPS in the sufface are magnified, because a 2" round bump in the surface becomes 2.5" around after foam, and becomes 2.75 after the leather .... so sand out ripples in the panels just liek your going to be painting them

Stinkin_V8 06-13-2006 09:44 AM

LowRoller, thanks. I was assuming that was the case so all panels are sanded to straight, but not necessarily smooth. But it's good to hear it from someone else. :)

lowROLLERchevy 06-13-2006 02:02 PM

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:thumbup: good to hear you already did it

best of luck on the covering job

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