Apprenticeship Session 2

So we started to build our Viking-age bellows tonight. Doug had the wood pieces all pre-cut and ready to assemble, which makes it sound quick and easy. However, three hours later we have one bellows only half assembled. There’s more to it than you’d think.

Making the Valve

Our previous session went over how the valves work and what they should look like. (Refresher: two pieces of leather – one square, one rectangular – placed over the air intake hole in the wood.) So today it was time to cut the leather and install it inside the bellows.

Making the Hinge

The next step is to make the hinge. This too is made of leather. We started by putting spacers in between the top and bottom pieces of the bellows so that they were flush with the wooden snout piece.

bellows wood pieces set in place
Bellows wood pieces set in place

After that it was time to cut the piece of leather that was going to serve as the hinge. We needed to determine the size we would need to cut. We wanted it to cover the wooden snout piece and then a couple of inches of the bellows surface (I’m sure that has a name, but I don’t know what it is). Plus it needs to fold over the sides too.

To be clear, the leather used for the hinge was a reasonably thick piece of leather since it’s going to get some hard work and different than the leather used for the valve as that should be more flexible.

After the leather was cut, we drilled a couple of hole through the top piece of the bellows as we planned on riveting the leather to that piece. The placement of those holes was about an inch or so from the front and sides.

We used an awl to punch holes through the leather hinge before heading to the anvil to rivet it in place.

Once the main rivets were in place it was a matter of adding tacks and small nails to secure the leather to the snout and the board and make the hinge as strong and tight as possible. We also added glue to make it secure.

At the end of our session we had gotten that far on just one of the bellows. Going to have to finish them up next time!