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Jere 06-07-2014 12:35 PM

Getting Started #2 - Beater Bag
11 Attachment(s)
I look at, and respond to, quite a number of the Introductions posted on this forum. A fair number of the people that sign up mention that they are here to learn how to “get started” in metal shaping. Many of those “Getting Started” are younger fellows just starting out in life and are not doing this sort of work for a living. They have a real job that pays the bills and they work on their projects at nights and weekends. Another thing that is mentioned while reading their introduction is that they are often saving money to get the next tool or saving to purchase a video. These are the fellows I am interested in helping to put together an inexpensive tool set. The tools that are not readily available at the local hardware store, or have to pay an arm and a leg for a specialty tool that they may use only once.

Here comes the disclaimer. There have bean several posts here inquiring as to the safety of breathing the dust from sand or lead shot emitted from the bag while in use. Please look up and read some of these posts so you are aware of the hazards that may be present while using this tool.

Now lets get started making a Beater Bag.

Attachment 28274
The bag can be made of ether leather or heavy canvas. I saw at Harbor Freight a split leather welding apron for $11.00 the other day and thought that would make several bags. What I use for my bags and several I have made for friends are hand bags purchased at the local thrift store. That is what I'm about to make this bag from. It's a heavy canvas bag with pockets on the outside.
This bag cost me $4.99.
The bag of sand cost $5.00. It was torn open and missing about one third of it's content so they sold it to me for half price just to get it out of their store.
The plastic trash bag is to help control the dust.

Attachment 28275
If you are making your own bag, and will be doing the sewing, first you want to glue the edges with BARGE glue. It is the best for gluing leather. Don't forget to leave about 2” not sewn in order to fill the bag. You could take the leather to a saddle shop or a shoe repair and ask them to do the sewing. Be sure to do the sewing with waxed cotton and NOT nylon thread. Nylon thread will cut into the leather.
You can purchase a sewing awl for quite cheap and do the sewing your self. You will need it to close up the last 2” after filling the bag with sand.

Attachment 28279
The first thing was to cut off the handles and all the outside pockets.

Attachment 28280
I didn't know until I was cutting it apart that there was a small pouch inside the bag that would make another small sand bag. I had the top sewn shut and used a zip lock bag inside for dust control. I filled it with sand and zipped it shut. Less than a minute and BAM another bag.

Attachment 28281
Here is the main bag after all the outside pockets were removed. Note at the top right there is a small tear.

Attachment 28282
I took the bag, the small pocket, and the large outside pocket to a seamstress and had her do all the sewing and repair to the large bag, leaving a 2” opening to fill through. She charged me $5.00 to do all the sewing.

Attachment 28283
I filled the trash bag inside the large bag and taped it shut. Slid the zipper shut and the big bag was complete. While filling the bag, shake it every so often to settle the sand and to make sure it gets into all the corners. After the bag is filled, and closed up, lay it flat and drop it on the table several times, turning it over each time you drop it. That will settle the sand and make it flat both top and bottom.

Attachment 28284
After filling all three bags this is what I had when finished. Three sand bags for $15.00 and about 5 hours including shopping, sewing, and filling.

This is not the last bag you will have and is not intended to be. If you use it just to get one job done it has served it's purpose. If you find a good heavy leather bag with a good zipper it may last a good long time.

You can change the resistance the bag gives by increasing the thickness of the leather or by choosing a media that is more dense to fill the bag. It will be fun to see how many different sizes and shapes of bags come out of this. I think with the creativity of this bunch we will all be making another bag after seeing how some one else has made theirs.


Richard K 06-07-2014 01:12 PM

Good thread Jere. I have filled a plastic sandwich ziplock back with sand and slipped inside an old heavy sock. Works good to back up inside a fender Several of these are also handy to put on or under a shape on the bench. Gives some needed stability on occasion.

HEATNBEAT 06-07-2014 01:44 PM

Very nice Jere!:)you could save $5 by learning how to sew:D

Jere 06-07-2014 03:49 PM


Thanks for the input. Now we can sew, zip, or tie a knot. This leads me to think about the legs from an old pair of pants or the sleeves of a discarded leather jacket. :confused: :rolleyes: :eek:


I know how to sew but have no machine. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Richard K 06-07-2014 04:14 PM

Rivets, use rivets and learn an applicable skill.

Peter Tommasini 06-07-2014 04:18 PM

Nicely done Jere :D

weldtoride 06-07-2014 05:44 PM

Oft-overlooked potential material source
Tracked down an old torn leather couch from the curbside, killed and skinned it. Made some of the hide into these bags. The topmost rectangular bag that isn't filled yet is an earlier bag made from a 50 cent yard sale nail pouch purchase.

I also sewed these longer welding sleeves. I am 6'3, my son and nephew both weld in my shop at times and they are both 3-4 inches taller than I am. All the commercially made welding sleeves, both cheap and expensive, are pretty short for some reason. The sleeves I made from the old couch are the longer ones in this photo, you can see how short the commercial sleeves are:

If curb hunting isn't in season, Goodwill stores around here (Chicago-Milwaukee) get rid of leather couches and chairs that are well-worn and have rips or tears in them typically for less than $10 for a chair and $20 for a couch. For an upholstery project I have coming up I scored an Italian made black leather couch along with a matching chair for under $30 for the pair, re-harvested all the leather. I realize the charity-run second hand store market varies greatly around the country, I couldn't believe how high prices were for clothing and furniture when my son moved to San Diego last summer. But curb hunting is always free, and churches deal heavily on the last day of their sales.

If you are trading any cash for it, beware of cheap leather furniture, the sides and backs are often imitation leather. On a full leather couch the least-worn leather is on the sides and back. The split is also very thin on cheaper leather furniture, or is sometimes thinner on sides and back.

rcv4 06-07-2014 06:53 PM

i made my bag out of a old leather welding apron,i got my local motorcycle leather maker to stitch them together,he charged £2.

Jere 06-08-2014 06:01 PM

Thanks for the warm response to this thread! :D :D

Do you have any pictures of bags you have made? Please show us the different sizes and shapes you use. Do you have a SHORT video on U Tube that shows one in use for those who may not know their use.

Great suggestion for materials. How about some picks of your home made bags. :rolleyes: :cool:

I mentioned a welding apron in the intro. How many bags did you get out of the apron? How are they holding up? Do you have any photos?


bobadame 06-08-2014 07:30 PM

Here's another possible source for leather.

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