Around the shop this week...

Posted by RodandDenise on July 19, 2014

We are no longer building saddle trees, but we have two videos about how Western saddles fit horses available on our website.

2014 July 19 1 Rod rawhiding a saddle tree.jpg

It’s been so long since I did a “take pictures of what is happening in the shop for a blog post” that Rod asked me what I was taking pictures for! So… not much exciting and different like the last blog post. Just more day to day “this is what happens at the Nikkel saddle tree shop” type pictures…

2014 July 19 2 initial saddle tree pieces.jpg

There are always trees in different stages of production around the shop. Here is the beginning – pieces of wood of specific shapes and sizes cut, planed, thicknessed and edged in preparation to being glued together.

2014 July 19 3 gluing up a saddle tree.jpg

And here are some of those pieces being glued together. These sections will make the middle of forks with metal horns. The 2” of maple will hold the screws very firmly. In fact, we have evidence that a metal horn will bend before the screws will loosen

2014 July 19 4 gluing up a fork for a saddle tree.jpg

This is a Wade fork being laminated together in one of our two glue presses. If you count carefully, you can see seven layers there. Actually, layer number eight is on top and hidden by the upper plate of the glue press. So eight layers and thirteen pieces of wood go into one of our Wade forks. There is a reason you can rope bulls with these things…

2014 July 19 5 gluing up bars for a saddle tree.jpg

And here’s a set of bars being glued up as well. The section in the glue press has a layer on the top of the back of the bars where it needs that little bit over and above the 2” of yellow poplar, particularly if there is a lot of rock in the tree. Up front, we need a little chip of wood behind the fork and sometimes a bit at the front bar tip on trees that have a lot of rock in them. So, they get those bits added on too.

2014 July 19 6 3B saddle tree.jpg

Then, after the tree is almost all finished… (did you notice I missed a little in there? Well, nobody’s perfect…) Rod fills in around the horn and the screw holes on the bottom with body filler. He routers out for the horn and makes sure it is square and firmly attached, but the body filler makes it all smooth and keeps it all solid.

2014 July 19 7 varnished saddle trees.jpg

Then they get three coats of varnish before they are rawhided. It was "three out of four" Wade week around here again, but you can see the variation in seat, horn and cantle sizes. Oh, and they have different fit for the horses too. Everything is variable when you get a truly custom tree!

2014 July 19 8 Rod rawhiding a saddle tree.jpg

Then Rod rawhides them. Yes, this picture was taken a different day than the first one. I actually got to 33C this week, over 91F, and for us that is really HOT! So T shirts and no plastic apron were the order of the day. Contrary to some people’s ideas, we do have running water this far north and showers are a possibility after a day like this…

2014 July 19 9 wet trees.jpg

Here are three freshly rawhided trees on the drying stones. The tree on the right is left over from…

2014 July 19 10 drying trees.jpg

the set done the week before that were moved to the back set of drying stones to make way for the new ones. The trees get flipped up side and down side a few times as they dry to make sure they dry evenly. Once there are no more damp patches, they stay upright for the remainder of the time. You can see that we did a couple of swell forks in that set.  We do make more than just Wades...

2014 July 19 11 Bella.jpg

Bella, at just over a year old, is doing well about leaving the rawhide alone. That is a Durabone she is chewing on (and destroying…), not a real bone, because the rule I used to tell my veterinary clients was no bones to any dog, ever, period. I’ve seen them caught everywhere from the mouth to the back end and I’ve seen dogs die from them. So she gets real rubber chew toys she can’t get bits off and Durabones where the bits are few and far between and really small. Oh, and no rawhide chews either. Imagine why???

2014 July 19 12 Albino insect.jpg

So nothing so far that anyone who has read these blogs hasn’t see before, but this is something new! Here is very unique insect that we found in the shop this week. It was sitting on my hearing protectors (aka Ears) and looked just like an insect that had been painted over with white paint. Except there was no white paint and the insect was perfectly able to fly. Not sure if this is a type of insect we have never seen before, or if there are actually albino insects. Anyone know? Either way, once we took pictures we put it outside. Maybe next year there will be more of them…

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