Thanks for the tips Looker & J I have been using leather scraps from Hobby Lobby as it was cheaper to practice on incase I messed up so it is prob Chrome tanned. I got a nice piece of veg tan for my next sheath now that I am comfortable with the process.
Have fun man, I look forward to seeing what ya make.
Awesome guys THANKS
I too am just starting out with leather craft. For me, the problem with those kits is that all of the tooling is already done for you (such as holes punched for lacing) this is what I want to learn to do, so having it already done, seems to defeat the purpose. I have gone on a few different sites, and found a couple patterns that don't look too intimidating, I have also gone on a couple of youtube videos to learn various techniques. I am just going to buy the leather, the tools and jump in. I fully expect to make some mistakes, but that is how I learn best. This is what I think will be best for me.
Last edited by sherlockian100; 04-06-2012 at 07:30 PM.
For cutting a utility knife and a pair of EMT shears work fine (for heavy leather you need the serrations on the shears, otherwise the leather squirts out between the blades.
For sewing look up directions for the saddle stitch. Tools needed are an overstitch wheel (used to mark the stitch and later to run over the stitch line to tidy it up - 6 is a good size (6 stitches to the inch), a saddler's awl (diamond blade punches the holes), a backing board (allows awl to penetrate while supporting the leather - I use a piece of pine board about 4" x 6") and a few saddle needles. I have a bunch and they rarely break or become unusable. PM me your mailing address and I'll send you a few (they are used in pairs). Done neatly, saddle stitching takes some time but the result can be hard to tell from machine sewn goods.
To punch holes either a rotary punch or, cheaper, a drive punch or two. a small hardwood block backs up the leather when using a drive punch. Tandy sells a handle and a set of puches that screw into the handle. A mallet drives the punch.
Most hardware stores sell a kit that includes the type of snap used in outdoor gear and the tools needed to set the snap. I prefer the copper rivet and washer, peened over with a ball-peen hammer but two-piece rivets are also good and available at the hardware store. The copper rivets you usally have to get from Tandy.
To burnish edges and mold sheaths you need a bone folder. Tandy sells a nylon bone folder with a combination head and the tongue-depresser-shaped folder. I made one from a piece of deer shinbone that works nicely.
The leather you want is tooling cowhide (vegetable tanned) 7-8 oz. is good for a variety of projects. (an "ounce" in leather is a measure of thickness, 1 oz. = 1/64th inch so 8 oz is about 1/8" thick. Other supplies are thread (you can use artificial sinew, dental floss, waxed linen or waxed nylon), some beeswax for lubrication of thread and some tools, a tube of Barge Cement (high strength, flexible rubber cement) and whatever hardware you need for the project.
A piece of leather will have raggedy edges that will usually be cut off as scrap. Use this to practice before diving into a expensive chunk of leather. Leather is sold by the square foot (not the same as a foot square) and the raggedy edges are included (they use a special machine for this) usually by the side (large amount) the back or the shoulder. A side will sell for maybe $100, backs and shoulers are smaller pieces.
Swivel knife, saddle punches and such are used in decoration only. My advice is to start with a few sewn projects and forget about decorating for awhile. Handling saddle stamps and especially the swivel knife takes a lot of practice and leather ain't cheap.
I don't use dyes and such on outdoor leather. A generous coat of neatsfoot oil allowed to soak in overnight followed by a rub with Snow-Pruf or Snow-seal weatherproofs the leather and turns it to a soft, warm brown with a semi-gloss finish. I like the look.
I've used the same tools for 40-50 years so I don't know the current cost but I'd say $25-50 would set you up with the basics listed above along with a modeat amount of supplies.
I'm assuming you are using the heavier leathers. Thin leather is handled much like cloth.
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