What in the heck is a stitching pony you might ask? Good question.
In junior high and high school I started leatherworking as a hobby. I made the obligatory belts, purses, gun cases, bible covers, and horse tack. I got so good at it that people started paying me to make things. I eventually built a leather stitching pony to hold leather while hand-sewing the pieces together. It was made out of wood and was big and bulky, but worked great. During my last couple of years of high school, I even worked for a saddle maker in OKC learning some tricks of the trade. But even back then I knew I didn’t want to build saddles for a living. It was a great hobby and something I enjoyed into my 20’s, but eventually, I sold most of my gear and moved on to other hobbies such as flying, motorcycles, and photography, along with a career in information technology.
Leatherworking again at 58
Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I finally got tired of watching television and pounding on my keyboard for relaxation. I sit in front of the computer most days and while I really enjoy my work in the IT industry, I also enjoy working with my hands. I decided to pick up my old hobby during the long winter evenings when it was too cold to work in my shop. I needed something to pass the time. Reading is great but my eyes are not so great anymore and I like creating more than reading at this point in my life.
I put a nice desk in my office and started outfitting it with some leatherworking tools. Some I bought new, some I made, and some I bought used. At first I started with figure carving leather, since that is my favorite thing to do. It is nice to make cool pictures to hang on the wall, but eventually, I wanted to make things that were useful. I made a belt using some old buckles I had saved. I made a notepad case, a frame bag for my bicycle, and a few other odds and ends. I purchased a cheap leather stitching pony from Tandy, but after using it once I decided it was a piece of junk and not worth the effort. I was used to working with a quality stitching pony like the ones found in a good saddle shop.
DIY stitching pony
I decided to take the time and make my own stitching pony, but this time I wanted to make it better. I now regularly work with steel and wood. I have a very well equipped woodshop inherited from my dad, and a nice welding shop (another hobby). So rather than make it from bulky wood, I decided to use a mixture of steel, wood, and leather for this project. I knew what I wanted based on my many hours of using a stitching pony in my teens. And I didn’t want to take the time to draw it up on my computer in Sketchup, so I just “winged it” on the fly, like my dad used to build everything he did. I used material I had around the shop leftover from other projects, and some leather I had purchased a year ago on a super sale at Tandy.