The best fly swats are usually the cheapest looking made from lightweight plastic moulded onto coat-hanger wire for a flexible aerodynamic swish. Have you ever made a plastic fly swat like the ones sold? No,why would you? Now a nice leather version with wood and hand stitching, now that’s different!
In the early 90s I grew tired of the cheapo three-for-a-dollar ones hanging around the house. I wanted something that looked good and that equalled any and all others as well. Making my first ever fly swat from leather resolved the issue and I was able to use mainly scraps of both wood and leather to do it. Who would have thought it would become a bread and butter item to help with cash flow too?. Well, the fly swat became a product line and I made many a hundred of them throughout the ensuing years. To improve appearance and customise them I added custom brands to the leather. Out west there was a good market for brands as in cattle brands. Anything like that can raise saleability and the dollar value and in my case it added about ten bucks to each swat. King Ranch, The YO Hilton shop in Kerville were just two popular brands in my day and that expanded into supplying Texas Parks and Wildlife parks department who bought them alongside my hiking sticks. They had several dozen parks at the time. I increased variation by changing leather colours and then included suede options too. Stains on the wood did the same and so I sold many a hundred fly swats in the busier summer months both in orders of a dozen, at my studio shop and then at craft shows where— I could sell a dozen or more in an afternoon without trying. Combining this with other bread and butter projects, we made a decent living.
I’ve been making some fly swatters recently as projects you might enjoy giving as gifts to family and friends. You can make them alongside larger furniture pieces to use up offcuts and take care of the dreaded enemy, cash flow. I was to finally get rid of the multicoloured psychedelic plastic versions.
The basic format for these fly swatters means that you can make several combining interesting colour combinations whether that be in the leather or the lamination woods. Any wood from ebony to mesquite will work for contrast. Gluing up the blanks takes only a few minutes and then the remaining work is all shaping. This was purely preference for me and meant no machine noise and no need for dust masks or ear plugs. I could have used the bandsaw and maybe some kind of linishing machine and inflatable drum sander but I preferred the handwork which took me a day.
Your fly swat will take a little over an hour to make, maybe two. You can either follow the steps in an upcoming blog or follow the woodworkingmasterclasses.com video, which is in two parts. You will need to become a paying member but you will have access to hundreds of hours of other training and project videos too. Here’s the link.