09 November 2016

The Making Of My Van der Spek Custom A5

Petra kindly sent me the photos in this post about the making of my Custom A5 Manager organiser featured in the post on Monday last week.

All orders start with a sheet like this that describes in detail the item to be made. 335 is an A5, C for compact 25mm rings hence 335C,  T.M.-Tabac is the leather, 184 is the thread to be used externally and internally in this case. Frame is the Bontext frame used between the internal and external covers. Extra Pen Loop, and 454 describes the pocket layout.

The lower section is 335 FL which is the A5 fly leaf.

And here is one of our favourite highly skilled leather workers JP Frumau, the stylish, the legend, and an all round good guy and super star. OK enough! He is one of the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet and it was wonderful to see him working on my organiser.

So here JP is lining up where to cut the leather for the outside of the organiser. He uses the frame (in his lefthand) to pick out the perfect part of the hide to cut from. He then inserts the cutting template inside the frame and puts the frame to one side

He hand cuts the leather with a sharp craft knife.

He then uses the other templates to cut out the many parts for the organiser.

A set of templates exists for each item or design in the collection as well as specials that might have been one offs at the time.

Here are all the other parts of the organiser to be cut out.

Here are all the parts laid out in their approximate positions of the finished item ready for the next stage of the assembly process.

Next step is to shave some of the leather off the reverse side where it will be stitched to other parts. This is done so the finished item isn't too bulky or stiff.

The machine has rotary knives that rotate at high speed and it is capable of shaving off a thin sub-millimetre thickness of leather. The layer that is cut off is thinner than tissue paper.

This machine puts a chamfer on the edge of the edge to aid the stitching of the leather.

The components of the front inside cover ready to be assembled and stitched.

Here you can see the textile liners used inside the credit card pockets.

Stitching starts with the central section of the inside of the organiser.

The hole you can see is for the mounting points of the rings. A metal plate will be sandwiched between the internal and external layers of leather.

Gradually each part is stitched and checked as the inside is fully assembled.

The clasp has been assembled as well and it will be stitched firmly on the outside rear cover.

The fly leaf is also stitched together around the edges, it is punched on a press once it is fully stitched.

Here is the inside fully stitched. The metal ring mounting plate will be stuck to the reverse side of the inside cover.

A bontex frame is stuck on each side of the cover before the outside edges are 'booked' (folded over) and the outside and the two halves are then stitched together.

And here it is finished complete with rings.

One other design feature to point out to you is notice how the pen loops point in the same direction when open.

When closed they are of course pointing in opposite directions. It means the two pens don't collide with each other if the organiser is not full. Or if your pens are quite thick they will nest together nicely.

It is a small detail, but it is these small details that makes Van der Spek products that bit special.

Yes I do like 'pebbly' leather, which this one certainly is.

Once again thank you to Petra for all of the photographs. And to all the team at Van der Spek for making this great organiser.

If you want a more detailed post on how another A5 Van der Spek was made with more photos, see this post.

Additional information: Van der Spek On-line shop
Facebook Group:  Van der Spek Organiser Fans


  1. Steve, I've left a comment in the other post about your custom a5 manager. Would love your first hand experience feedback in regards to your custom thanks!