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Pulling the trigger on a Cobra 4-P This week. Could use advice on Thread and Needles

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by Diomedes Industries, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    Well - after a lot of thought - I need to upgrade my production speed - and this means learning how to sew on a machine. I have been saving my pennies for years and have the money to buy what I feel is the best for my needs:

    http://www.leathermachineco.com/shop/cobra-class-4-p-premium-package/

    However, I don't know a ton about needles and thread. The sizing is a bit confusing. However, I DO know that I want to sew sheaths and belts primarily. I currently use 1mm Ritza 25 for my hand sewing at 4mm spacing with stitching chisels. I would like to have my machine set up as close to this as I can to give my customers what they are used to.

    I would welcome any advice on how to set up my machine properly, and have Steve send the machine to me in that set up.

    Thank you all so much for your continued support.

    Jason
     
  2. ANovinc

    ANovinc Basic Member Basic Member

    119
    Sep 21, 2016
    Hi, Jason. I just bought a Cobra 3, and they were able to advise me on both the needle (leather point) and thread size. I went with a size 277 on the thread and a 207 on the bobbin for starters but you can go smaller or larger depending on what you think you might like. I went through a distributor in NC (Zach White Leather) as it allowed me to pick it up in lieu of shipping. You may want to check with them (since it looks like you are on the East coast--it may save you on shipping) as well as Leather Machine Co. My machine came ready to stitch--the only hiccup I had was getting the belt installed correctly when re-assembling after transport--but I received great customer support and was rocking along in no time.

    PS: There definitely is a learning curve to using the machine, but I can tell once I get the hang of it, it will be awesome. Leather Machine Co. has some great instructional videos on their website, and there are also videos available online from various sources.

    Amy
     
  3. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    Amy.

    Thanks. I see you are just south of me. Thanks for responding. Why did you go with the 3 instead of the 4.


    Jason
     
  4. ANovinc

    ANovinc Basic Member Basic Member

    119
    Sep 21, 2016
    It was partly my budget (although I think the 4 comes with more accessories than the 3 so it's probably not that much more expensive when you factor that in). The other reason was I really don't envision making items that would require the clearance of a 16" arm vs. the 9" at this time--I'm just making knife sheaths, and hope to make some gun holsters down the road. If you currently are, or plan to make larger items that would require more clearance, the Cobra 4 def. makes sense in the long haul. Who ever you talk to about the machine can probably give you guidance on which machine is right for you, as well.
     
  5. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Jason, I use 207 thread top and bottom through a number 25 needle. My personal opinion is that your customers probably are not that aware of what you have been using, and probably don't care. Also what you have done in the past is just that in the past, kind of like a thread here. A couple of days on the front page and then it sinks slowly into oblivion.

    Regarding the 3 vs. the 4. I've always had the 4 or the equivalent in the other brand and while I never use the full 16" clearance, it's always there if I need it. Either machine is great, but I think you chose correctly.

    Get ready, because now you're gonna want an 18!

    Regards,

    Paul
     
  6. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    I think the same thread through top and bottom makes the most sense.

    What is the best thread I can buy - or rather - what has worked for you and your customers best.

    Jason
     
  7. ANovinc

    ANovinc Basic Member Basic Member

    119
    Sep 21, 2016
    Hmm. Now I'm going to have to try the same size thread top and bottom.......I've not mastered the machine to the point of stitching a sheath with it yet, so now's the time to figure out what works best for me (and it didn't occur to me to use the same size thread top and bottom, since most of what I read said one size smaller for the bobbin--thanks Paul for the light bulb moment to experiment). Jason, I'll be looking forward to hearing how things go for you once you've gotten yours delivered, whichever machine you ultimately choose.
     
  8. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Jason you are getting very close to over thinking this. Funny thing about sewing machines......they like the thread they like and won't tolerate the thread they don't like. I used to be a die hard Rice Thread fan, but alas they are no longer in business. Any good quality bonded Poly or Nylon thread is good for me IF the machine likes it and the machine will tell you soon enough if it doesn't. I have had good luck buying my thread direct from Steve and David, but from one lot to the next of what is supposed to be the same thing, it is possible (but not likely) that the machine will say NO. A rare event but it does happen. I think this is result of the bonding agent or how it is applied from lot to lot, and there is really no way to predict in advance.

    You are approaching, rapidly, a point in your leather making career where you will begin to realize that the leather and other materials you use are the cheapest part of your operation and time is the really valuable asset (Never forgetting the absolute dedication to the very best quality you are capable of). By that I mean I no longer worry a great deal about small price differences or the fact that leather has doubled in the past few years. All of that is reflected in my current pricing. Also if your experience is any thing like mine you will find that the amortization of new equipment and materials is much faster and painless due to the advanced ability to produce.

    Good luck, my friend,

    Paul
     
  9. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    I too use 207 top and bottom on my Ferdco. Many years ago I started out using 277 and even heavier but eventually settled on the 207 as just about right. This takes care of almost everything I do. If I need to do something a little lighter and use 138 thread I'll go inside and use Nichole's Cobra 18. Occasionally she'll have it strung with bright chartreuse thread or something and I switch my needle and top thread to 138 still using the 207 on the bottom. When running 207/207 I'm using a size 25 needle for about 95 percent of the time. Always on scabbards, holsters and sheaths. Occasionally on a lighter project where I'm still running 207/207 I'll switch down to a 24 but not often. Paul is absolutely right about the machine telling you what thread it likes or rather its very quick to tell ya what threadit doesn't like. I've had real good luck with thread from Weaver I've only ever had one spool that I stated cussing and threw away. Nichole's 18 has been very happy with some thread she gets online (all the different colors) I'm not sure where it is she gets em but they work well for her. Interestingly her 18 DID NOT LIKE the natural colored thread from Steve. It'd work with white but it kinda eyed it askance. It much prefers white thread from Weaver too. The Weaver thread seems a little stiffer, quien sabe? I have 11" of clearance on my Ferdco and cuss that on occasion. Had to bend two rifle scabbards in half the other day to get to certain parts. Cobra 4 in my future too.

    All the good things you hear about Steve and Dave of the Leather Machine Co are absolutely true. They are about 2 hours south of us and so we went and picked up Nichole's 18 in person. Not only are they rockin in person but their after the sale service is great too. I had a question one time and called but found out they were on the road at a show. Steve called back about 20 mins later from like New Mexico or someplace and answered my question right over the phone and got me going. Nichole had broken a needle and her 18 has a safety reset for that and I couldn't remember what the proceedure was to get her back up and running.
     
  10. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    I will do 207 with a 25 on both. That's what I needed. I agree, Paul. I am overthinking it. I want to cut out as many obstacles as I can. I will call Steve tomorrow and start the ball rolling.

    Jason
     
  11. Mahoney

    Mahoney

    765
    Mar 8, 2006
    We've had a Cobra 4 for e few years now. Great machine. We've got thread in 138, 207, 277, and 346 sizes. Never used the 346 yet. We've got round needles for webbing and fabric as well as chisels for leather in #23 and #25

    What ever size thread you decide to use, don't cheap out like I did and only buy 1 cone of each color and size. A full cone will do a lot of sewing, why buy 2 to start? Well when you are sewing and the bobbin thread runs out, and you don't have a spare wound, you'll have to cut the thread and wind a bobbin and given the slow speed the belt runs, winding a bobbin feels like it takes forever. And then you've got to re-thread the machine. If you have 2 cones, you can have a bobbin winding while you are sewing.

    FWIW, might be of help to someone. I bought a batch of bobbins, not sure where from now, but they didn't want to work in the machine even though they were exactly the right size and shape. Turns out the center hole was just a little too small at the ends to spin freely in the Cobra, easily solved once I figured it out.
     
  12. mt_hangglider

    mt_hangglider

    301
    Jan 19, 2009
    Congrats on a fantastic machine! I've had my Class 4-P right around 2 years and absolutely love it. You've gotten great advice from the other posters so I don't have a whole lot to add. Personally, I like thicker thread so I run 277 on top and 207 on bottom with a size 25 needle. Seems to work out just fine. Sometimes I'll run 207 both top and bottom. I much prefer bonded poly over nylon as it seems to run noticeably smoother through my machine and is definitely nicer melting when you burn it with a lighter. If you decide to go the poly route, I just found and can't recommend Superior Threads out of Utah enough. Great quality thread and great people to deal with. As Dave mentioned, I have some white poly from Weaver that has been great thread too. Good luck and again congrats on your purchase!
     
  13. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Dang has it been two years already Chad?
     
  14. mt_hangglider

    mt_hangglider

    301
    Jan 19, 2009
    Unless I'm misremembering, I think so. I'd have to look back and see. Maybe I've only had my machine a year and have been doing leather for two. I think I hand stitched for close to a year before buying my machine. It's crazy as I get older the past seems to blur more and more, time seems to accelerate as well.
     
  15. ANovinc

    ANovinc Basic Member Basic Member

    119
    Sep 21, 2016
    Hi, Jason. Did you order your machine?
     
  16. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    Anovinc,

    I JUST did. Got crazy over the holidays. I ordered a Cobra 4P set up with 207 top and bottom with a #24 needle (per Steve's suggestion).

    I will send pics when I get it in.

    Jason
     

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