Biltwell: DIY Tutorial
So, Greaser Mike needed a new seat for The Pedestrian Killer, Biltwell sells a great uncovered solo seat kit, and as much as I love and appreciate the business, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to share a simple, DIY leather seat tutorial with ya’ll.
Hope it’s helpful!
The Pedestrian Killer as seen in the great hot rod/chopper race of 2012…I’m still not sure who won.
(photo courtesy of Greaser Mike)
4-5oz Vegetable tanned leather: leather is pricey and sold by the hide. You can also check a local shop for smaller scrap pieces
Spray Adhesive (I use an upholstery adhesive, but any quick tack spray will work)
1/2 yard Muslin: inexpensive cotton used for patterning, available at any fabric store (any scrap fabric on hand will work).
Tailors chalk (or a marker)
leather blade (or an exacto knife)
leather punch (or an awl)
Rivets: Aluminum, size 1/8 medium
Flat Washers: SAE zinc #8
Dye Sponge (these are denser than household sponges)
Leather Dye (water based)
Leather Finish (matte)
Dish (for water based dye, anything will work)
1. Attach foam to seat pan using a light coat of spray adhesive.
8. The leather will now be completely maleable to the seat pan form. Spray a light coat of adhesive on the seat foam, and stretch the leather over the foam. Make sure you have an even amount of excess leather on all sides.
9. Turn seat upside down (from this point on, place a clean towel under the seat to avoid stains). Mark (on the backside of the leather) the center rivet hole at the back end of the seat. Using a leather punch, make a hole the same size as the hole in the seat pan.
11. Flat washers are used to prevent the leather from tearing as the leather dries and shrinks.
13. Continue on, stretching (don’t strong arm it, but rather smooth it from side to side) securing rivets around the seat in a criss cross pattern (top to bottom, left to right, etc).
21. I mark all of my seats with my awesome custom Via Meccanica company logo (thanks Greaser Mike!). Even though you would tool leather first, while it’s flat, and then stretch it over the seat pan, this tiny 1” stamp is easy enough to tap into the seat pan once I am completely sure of where I want it to hit. Custom stamps can be purchased online. I got mine from the nice people at Steel Stamps.
Cut a piece of scrap leather. Put on gloves (this dye is meant to stain leather, dig) and cover your work area with the garbage bag.
23. Using a sponge, dampen the leather evenly with water. Apply the water based dye in a quick circular motion. Water based dyes are meant to soak into the leather, not wiped away immediately. Continue in a circular motion until the entire seat is covered evenly.
Let your test piece dry. Buff the leather with a soft, clean rag. Apply an even coat of leather finish, also in a circular motion and let dry. Buff again.
Let the piece dry entirely.
for more on leather dye technique
Don’t rush the test dye stage. You spent a lot of time and effort covering that seat.
24. Using the same technique that you mastered on your test scraps, apply dye to the seat.
Time to get put on The Pedestrian Killer…Watch out pedestrians!
Custom Bike & Hot Rod upholstery at Via Meccanica
P.S – if you did find this post helpful, feel free to support DIY tutorials and small business by picking up your very own Via Meccanica T-Shirt HERE