Chinese clone of the Bradbury A1 leather sewing machine, for you DIY'ers

Discussion in 'Self-made Gear' started by CaliforniaCanuck, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    If you're into making leather goods then you'll appreciate this high-value clone of the vintage Bradbury A1 machine.

    The Bradbury A1:
    http://www.sewmuse.co.uk/bradbury/a1 repairing.htm
    upload_2019-8-4_19-54-33.png

    Here's the chinese clone after it's been disassembled, cleaned, painted, reassembled, and tuned.
    [​IMG]
    I threw the wood base together quickly just to tune and test it but it turned out to be very functional so I'll probably just keep it as is. For larger projects I might make an accessory "flat deck" to slide over the bottom arm but I'll wait for when I actually need it.

    The clone works really well and it's affordable enough for the DIY'er. The instructions are useless but if you already know how a sewing machine works you can figure it out, or there should be enough youtube videos to help you.

    The prices vary from around $115 to over $200 but I believe they are essentially the same machine.

    The different sellers specify different sewing thickness which were 3mm, 5mm, and 15mm. This was my biggest concern because 3mm to 5mm isn't useful for any leather projects I'd do. I want it to sew up to three pieces of 7-8 oz leather for knife sheaths. I bought the lowest cost machine that stated 15mm just so I'd at least have something to base a return claim on.

    It stated 15 mm sewing thickness but it only has 11 mm clearance under the needle tip so it's max sewing thickness is probably around 9-10 mm which is good enough for what I had in mind.

    Anyway, I found this machine to be very affordable and after tuning it sews really well. What used to take me an hour by hand, will now take just a few minutes!
     
  2. John from Alberta

    John from Alberta Supporter Supporter

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    Nice. Looking forward to seeing some of the projects that come from this machine.
     
  3. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Bushmaster

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    Very interesting! If it'll handle 3 layers of 9oz I'm totally in.
    Looking forward to seeing pics of it's stitching.
    And thanks for posting this.
     
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  4. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    The machine came with regular pointed needles which work but not are ideal for leather.

    My new leather needles should be here by tomorrow and with them I’ll test the max sewing thickness and post pics of the stitching.
     
  5. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    OK I got the needles!

    Tried sewing various thicknesses and this is what I found,
    - up to 0.35" thickness sews well. 0.35" is just shy of 9 mm. The stitching is clean and even. My photos aren't uploading so for now no pics!
    - 0.4" (+10 mm) was tough and I got it to sew some but I broke three needles trying and each time it missed several stitches. This was too thick!

    Here's a leather chart so you can see the weights and thickness.

    upload_2019-8-5_21-41-34.png

    My knife sheaths are still going to need to be sewn by hand. I won't risk ruining the leather by attempting to use the machine. But for everything else it will save me a lot of time!
     
  6. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Bushmaster

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    Thanks for that info. While that pretty much takes it off the table for me (99% of my leatherwork is sheaths) it still seems like a really valuable tool for folks doing other leatherwork, plus heavy materials like canvas, webbing, etc.
    Looking forward to seeing some projects!
     
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  7. AEM

    AEM Tracker Bushclass I

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    Could you please explain why you feel the machine could ruin the leather? I would love a machine like this but would use it mostly for sheaths and similar projects.
     
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  8. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    One hand cranks the wheel and the other guides the leather so if your cranking hard to get thru thick leather there’s chance of missfeeding the leather or going off course.

    Once the needle pushes holes in the leather they’re there forever!
     
  9. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    If you could incorporate a foot treadle you then could have both hands on the work.
     
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  10. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    I know, that would be nice!

    My mom has one but she's in Canada, and it's the machine I learned on. She didn't teach me, I just saw her use it and when she wasn't in the house I'd mess with it and eventually figured it out. I was probably 7 or 8.

    When I searched for a treadle strand locally I found one that was "for free come take it" but I missed it by about a week.

    It's not something I feel I need right now but I'll keep an eye out for it. I also like how compact the machine is without a base.

    But good suggestion!
     
  11. pickin_grinnin

    pickin_grinnin Supporter Supporter

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    Where did you buy it?
     
  12. tomme boy

    tomme boy Guide

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    Good candidate for a stepper motor. Then your control would be like any other sewing machine. But with more power.
     
  13. trentu

    trentu Guide

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    I have one and bought some as gifts. Nice machine. Just have to get the time to put the servo motor on it. Coating the foot with tool dip or sanding it down some helps to not leave marks on the leather. I have easily done 3/8" on it.
     
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  14. CaliforniaCanuck

    CaliforniaCanuck Guide

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    Around that thickness, 3/8" or 0.375" is the limit for mine. 0.40" was too thick.
     
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