Cowboy CB4500 Sewing Machine


"The Montana Bladesmith"
Well, with the Tippmann Boss stitcher sold, the new Cowboy CB4500 Sewing Machine arrived Monday. Kudos to Ryan Neel for the outstanding packing job.....had it been otherwise, I'm sure I'd be dealing with a damaged freight shipment now.

Cindy helped me get to the shop, from the end of the driveway, and spent the rest of the day unpacking/assembling.

Tuesday was spent reading, and getting to know the machine....SO MUCH to learn! I've already been on the phone a couple of times for help, especially what I called the "angled stitches"....little did I know that is desirable for most applications, but for knife sheaths and holsters, it's gotta be STRAIGHT for me.
I learned today that "straight stitching" on these machines requires a very specific needle, and only one outfit makes them that will fit this machine.....OH JOY! So, after practicing most of yesterday, now I'll wait until the "proper" needles arrive before I attempt my first knife sheath. The cost of one of these things makes a "Top End" grinder look not so bad, and I should have followed my instincts in the first place.....and just purchased this to begin and learn!

On the up side, once I get it down, it should be more like minutes to sew a sheath, versus hours buy hand.... and I suspect there won't be near as much blood on the leather when it's done!

Thanks to Ted for directing me to Ryan Neel, and for all the others who've given me advice and guidance. I nearly made a HUGE blunder and purchased a TechSew 5100..... same machine, but shipped for Montreal, Canada. Right before I was going to call and place the order, a knowledgeable individual told me to rethink that..... if I ever had to send it back, it would be big bucks for the import/export both ways, then the parts and repairs, and then the return. Hmmmm, made more sense not to put myself in that situation.

Finally, for anyone considering this type of sewing machine, I learned that the Cowboy CB4500, The TechSew 5100, the Cobra 4, The Consew 756R-3, and the Artisan Toro 4000, are all the same machine, with some very minor differences thrown on by each brand. In fact the manual for all of them is exactly the same, except for the Brand names and machine numbers/designations. Is it worth it? For me, with my aging hands, and the Lupus, that often hurts so badly I can't do much with my hands..... I think so, but only time will tell.


mike miller

A saddle maker friend told me to make a simple gig to measure how far back to start the back stitch needs to be for the ends.


"The Montana Bladesmith"
Everything around here is "Lab tested" and "Lab approved" :) He thinks he's being tortured if he doesn't go to the shop with me!

I learned much the first day with it.

- It takes a particular needle (794S) to make the stitches straight, rather then the slightly angled look of each stitch.... and according to those I spoke with, that angled stitch is considered "decorative" by most, but it's not what I want. To me it screams "Machine Sewn!".... and although I won't hide the fact that I use a machine, I'd still like it to look as close as possible to all my prior sheaths.

- Setup is everything. Taking the time to check, and double check everything before the needle ever punches through leather will save a lot of tears. :)

Currently I'm planning on using 277 thread, and even though the charts recommend a 200 needle, I went down to a 180 and found I liked it better.... less visible holes, and more visible thread. Maybe once I actually learn it, I can learn how to do overlays with smaller thread/needles, but for now I just wanna get the basics down. More to come!!


"The Montana Bladesmith"
Well, after a week, and a steeper learning curve than what I imaged, I finally put the stitches to a sheath....... a couple of hiccups, but I LOVE IT!!
Here's the first one I did....

And in less then 20 minutes..... got 5 sewn!

There are some "quirks"..... such as if you want these machines to sew dead straight stitches, you must us a specific type of needle..... and it's not the needles that come with the machines. Also, you have to be prepared to settle for a stitch on the backside of what you're sewing NOT below the surface (I gouged a groove on the front, but the needle doesn't always exit right where you want it on the back). With each needle type/size you have to adjust stitch length, as well as with each thread size. Just a lot of things to get squared away when learning, but afterward they don't seem so tough.
It's not the precision, nor the "beauty" of hand stitching with waxed artificial sinew, but then again, I didn't bleed on any of the sheaths, and it only took minutes, versus hours! :)

Chris Railey

It would surely take me hours to sew those and I would never choose to do that many stitches on a single sheath by hand, though it does look good.