Thread and Wax
The first thing done in the trade, is the making a thread; and a thread well made contributes as much as any thing to a good solid boot or shoe. And as a thread is composed of many strands of hemp or flax, and wax, I shall treat on each separately. – First of,
Wax should be made of the best black pitch, and a fourth part of rosin, and a little fine oil if you should find it hard, which you will in winter; but put no fat nor grease, for neither will incorporate with the pitch so well as the oil: for wax that is made with fat or grease, will not properly adhere to the thread or work.
The pitch should be melted in an earthen or an iron pot, on a slow fire, that it may not burn. When thoroughly melted, take it off the fire and pour into it as much oil as the season requires, and let the whole be well stirred; then pour it into a pan or tub of cold water, and press it close together in the water, that it may be as free as possible from air bladders, and let it be taken out of the water while warm; and then draw it between the hands to that the degree that it may support itself in small filaments or threads without breaking. Unless it be brought to that ductile state, it will be too brittle to be of any service, it will fly off the thread in the working, and that which remains will soon wear off. Therefore, unless the wax be of that ductile property, capable of adhering to the thread, the work cannot be firm.—
Sewing threads should be made of the best long green hemp that can be had; and stitching threads of the best yellow or gray flax, and not too hard spun, for the faculty of making the threads and of better receiving the wax.
When you have got these materials, cast out from the ball of hemp or wax the first strand to the length the work requires; but never longer than what you can draw out on two pulls with ease; for longer will cause you to lose time, as well as render the thread unfit for use, from the too great friction such lengths must acquire in the work.
All of the other strands must be gradually shorter than the first, that the ends of the threads may be tapering, but yet strong. A little experience will teach the young practitioner this, as well as putting on the hair or bristle, which is the next article. But before that is done, let the thread be well waxed before you twist it; for previous to the twisting the wax enters the body of the thread, and then every strand is covered with it. Let the thread be well twisted, but not too hard, and rub it smooth with a bit of upper leather; and let it be waxed over again before you put on the bristles.
In putting on the
Some split the bristle from the soft end to a certain distance, then putting the point of the thread in between the slit, a the lower part of it, and holding the bristle in the left hand between the fore finger and the thumb, with the fore finger and thumb of the right hand twist up hard the split part of the bristle; and then with the fore finger and thumb of the left hand twist up hard the point of the thread and bristle together, and so alternately till it is nearly twisted to the split end of the bristle; then put on the end a knot, or make a hole with a small awl in the thread, and put the hard end of the bristle through; others will twist the point of the thread round the bristle without splitting it and fasten it the same as above.
The points of the bristles should be cut off and pointed, by giving them a few strokes backward and forward on a whetstone; for without pointing them, you will not be able to get them through stuff work; and in all other kind of work you will find it to your advantage.
Before I close this subject, I would have you to be very particular in choosing the best green hemp for to make your sewing threads, where the work is require very strong, whether it be in town or country.
The next thing that comes under the care of the learner is
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