How to Choose Leather-Working Tools

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Basic leather craft projects don't require a lot of tools. Here are some of the items you'll need to work just about any project, from simple to complex.

Things You'll Need

  • Hobby Paintbrushes
  • Leather Hole Punchers
  • Leather Or Rawhide Mallets
  • Leather Sewing Needle
  • Leather Stains
  • Spray Bottles
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Beeswax
  • Fabric Glue
  • Sponges
  • Swivel Knives
  • Cutting Mats
  • Leather Conditioners
  • Leather Protection Sprays
  • Sinew
  • Awl
  • Rulers
  • Make sure that you have a flat, stable surface on which to work. A rubber mat placed under your work will prevent the surface from being scarred and will also protect the blades of your cutting tools.

  • Measure out lines and curves onto leather with items such as a sturdy ruler and a French curve. Choose metal measuring tools, as these can also be used as straightedges against which leather can be cut. Mark lines along the leather's surface with pencils and felt-tip pens.

  • Use items like leather bleach and leather deglazer to clean dirt, oil and residue from the surface of the leather before any work is begun.

  • Color your leather with leather dyes and paints. These items can be found at any leather-craft store, as can paint and dye applicators such as wool daubers and paintbrushes.

  • Cut out leather pieces with a razor knife and use paring tools such as edge bevelers and skives to remove thin layers from a piece of leather. Leather shears can be used to cut thinner pieces of leather.

  • Tool a piece of leather with a swivel knife, wood or rawhide mallet, and a variety of leather stamps. Decorative cuts are made with a swivel knife and then the mallet and stamps are used to create textures and depressed surfaces around those cuts. Stamps come in a variety of patterns.

  • Make perforations in your leather with an awl, a stitching awl (for holes that will be stitched through) and/or leather hole punches of various sizes. Use a rotary hole punch for easy, even hole placement.

  • Sew leather with leather-craft sewing needles, waxed linen thread and artificial sinew. Use the waxed linen thread on softer, thinner pieces of leather and use the artificial sinew on harder pieces. The artificial sinew does not stretch and may cut into the stitching holes in soft pieces of leather.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use acrylic paints instead of leather paints. Make sure, however, that the paint you use is safe for leather.
  • Run a piece of beeswax along the length of any unwaxed thread before stitching.
  • Affix leather pieces to one another without stitching by using leather glue.
  • Keep a plastic spray bottle of water and a sponge in your work area. Use these to dampen the leather while you work it.

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