Cuir-Bouilli isn't that hard and it doesn't take up much space. All you need is a decent size pot to hold the water. How I was taught was to let the water get to nice and warm to the touch, not boiling, drop the piece of leather into the water and let it sit for about ten minutes. Stir it every couple of minutes so that it doesn't sit on the bottom. After the ten minutes pull the piece out and begin to shape it how you want it. Just a heads up the piece will shrink a bit after being the water so it's a good idea to cut it a little larger then what you plan it to be. Also I found using a wooden or rubber mallet helps to shape the piece.
The only big problem about doing cuir-bouilli in the house is that leather dose give off an order when it's cooking. It's not a bad smell to me but I know people who really don't like it.
We're actually both right. Cuir-bouilli is just the boiling of the leather how one shape it is really how one feels comfortable doing it. I know guys that cut the shape, boil it and then molded it free hand when it's harden, like metal, others use, as you stated, use an anology to shape it.
Like I said I've had both good and bad experiences with boiling leather. Like you, some came out very fragile; other times it came out quit nice. Now that you mention it. I do remember reading how after the hardening process some people would dip the leather into the beeswax to prevent water damage. I wonder if it was also used to fill in for the collagen that is washed away by the water.
Honestly, I think making proper harden leather is much harder then what many people think.