Air Rifle Gun Case Rebuild
Updated: Jun 24
Recently I was asked to rebuild a gun case for a Webley Service Rifle. This particular rifle is one that has three interchangeable barrels (three different bores).
The client wanted storage for boxes of air pellets, three barrels and of course the rifle itself.
The rebuild consisted of new leather casing, straps, handle, baize and polyester wrap and hand tooled "Webley" on the top. All the leather is natural 3 to 4 Oz (1.5mm) veg tanned cow shoulder.
The case was in very poor condition with torn, dry leather and parts of the case with very bad attempts at repairs. The original straps and handle were missing. All the lining and separators were ripped out from inside.
The bottom part of the case is made from wood and the top from cardboard.
All the leather was replaced. The straps and handle and dividers inside had to be made.
When having a closer look, I decided that there was nothing that could be done to salvage or "repair" any of the old leather so went for a rebuild.
Having stripped all the old leather off, I first had to repair the box where the cardboard had torn and frayed. I used pig skin lining leather for parts of the repairs and re-assembly to put stability and strength back into the lid. I had to make new sides to the lid as the original sides were missing.
I made the dividers from scratch using 8mm ply wood.
The leather for the outer casing is one complete piece and the baize is one piece (apart from the dividers).
The trick was assembling the entire case so that screws holding the dividers in place, stitching for the strap loops and the tabs for the feet are not seen. Everything was hidden behind the leather work. This meant a non-conventional way of assembly.
Normally I would make the leather components then dye all the leather. This time I found it easier to make up the case first then dye it after fitting the leather.
I started by covering the components for the dividers inside with baize. Then I laid polyester wrap and baize on the bottom of the case.
Next I screwed in the dividers. Screws were put in through the bottom of the case. So now I had the inside bottom covered in baize and the dividers (already covered in baize) installed and screwed in place.
I then glued the leather to the bottom of the case. It's important to note that I don't depend on glue to hold any work together for life. This was just to hold the leather in place until I could stitch the case together. Once the bottom was set in place, I now knew where to put the 'Webley' tooling, strap loops, lock and feet. I could also cut the leather to size to wrap the leather up the sides of the case bottom.
I cut the recess for the lock, stitched the strap loops in place, installed the feet and then glued the sides up before completing the tooling on top and place my makers mark on.
Now I could get on with fitting the leather to the lid of the case. Again, I put polyester wrap on the inside of the lid, with extra around where the rifle but will be to hold the rifle secure when closing the lid. I also chose to use polyester wrap on top of the lid - just to soften the top, which is something I won't be doing again!
I could now wrap the leather around the lid, including on the sides of the lid.
Next there was the stitching around the base and lid to hold the leather in place. There was no way I was going to get an awl through 8mm ply wood, I drilled 1.5 stitch holes and then used conventional saddle stitch using 1mm braided thread. The handle was then stitched on and the lock fitted. I also made a 4 strand round braid retainer to hold the lid from opening all the way back.
The straps were made to exact size for the case after all assembly and they have just one buckle hole (I never understood cases like this with 3 or 5 holes for the straps since the case is not an expanding one!).
Finally I dyed the entire project using my bespoke dyeing technique and style.
See the video of the completed item.
See the project photo gallery here