Leatherwork help

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by jpoe88, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. jpoe88

    jpoe88 Supporter Supporter

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    Looking to start making my own sheaths and stuff. Can I get some pointers on what basic tools/supplies I need?
     
  2. Jeremy Hess

    Jeremy Hess Tracker

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    Go and look at the tandy leather website or better yet stop in a shop if you have one local. They have some great kits to get you started that would include all the things you'd need to do what you want and then some and it would cost less then purchasing the tools separately along with giving you extra small projects to work on and build skills that will help. The deluxe kits are very much so worth the money and the people are extremely knowledgeable and more then willing to help.
     
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  3. RiceOnSuede

    RiceOnSuede Scout

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    Check out Ian Atkinson on YouTube
     
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  4. dial1911

    dial1911 Supporter Supporter

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    I'm still relatively new to leather working, but have made some decent looking stuff.

    I really only use a few basic tools. I cut everything with a Stanley knife (i.e. utility knife). I do use a stitching groover to groove the stitch seam so the thread sits below the surface of the leather.

    I use a stitching spacer to mark the stitch holes then drill them on my drill press using a 3/32 (???) drill bit- really small one. Just fits my sewing awl. I do use a sewing awl, although I think a needle and thread would be fine.

    And the other "bought" tool I use often is the edge beveler.

    I burnish everything using a piece of wood in a wood lathe... dampen edges with water then rub with wood on lathe.

    That's really all I use- not that many tools. All the leather specific tools were ordered from Tandy Leather.

    I also recommend a good straight edge and a T-square to cut straight pieces from a shoulder/double shoulder or other irregular piece of leather (they don't come with many straight edges).
     
  5. Torrin

    Torrin Pan Supporter

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    ^^^this. You can do pro level work with just what was mentioned above. Maybe add a Dremel to drill the holes, and burnish in place of the lathe.
     
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  6. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Advice doesn’t get much better than this. Pick up some leather and start working. You will find out if you like it and how good you are at it. Then think about more or better tools. It really doesn’t take much.
    There are lots of how-to threads here to help you too.

    Have fun and keep us posted.
     
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  7. jpoe88

    jpoe88 Supporter Supporter

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    Wow, theres a ton of info. Looks like all the leather workers popped up over night!
     
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  8. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter

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    * More important than a bunch of tools is using good clear Vegetable Tanned leather, preferably skirting or tooling leather, for sheaths and holsters you want 8 ~10 ounce thick leather, bellies are economical and work good for small projects.
    * Next is your choice of threads, best for Sheaths and holsters is heavy duty waxed cotton thread or artificial sinew, woven sinew is stronger and easier to work with but a bit more expensive.
    * Your choice of needles is going to make or break your leather stitching experience, you want saddlers needles, they have good sized eyes for threading and blunt ends so you don't stab yourself and bleed all over your project.

    * It's true that you don't need specialty tools to do leather work, but a few well chosen tools will make your work easier and the finished product a lot better, tools to consider are,
    . a good razor knife and extra blades.
    . a stitching wheel to mark stitching holes.
    . a diamond shaped leather awl for opening and lining up stitching holes.
    . an edge beveler.
    . a leather scribe for making lines on leather.
    . I seriously suggest using a light weight hand held Dremel tool with a fine drill for making holes, they aren't cheap but will be your best investment for leather work.

    * Liquid leather products you will want to have.
    . Contact cement for gluing your project pieces prior to stitching.
    . Good quality leather die, there are two types to consider, Alcohol based and Oil based, I use both depending on the project, but suggest oil base for just starting out.
    . A good quality leather finishing and conditioning treatment, usually acrylic works best all around.
    . I always keep a can of clear paste wax (bowling alley type) for finishing work.
    . For serious conditioning on aged or distressed leather I use Snow Seal or similar product, keep a small jar on your work bench.

    * Methods.
    . Learn to use a Saddle stitch using two needles and use it exclusively.
    . Always make a pattern out of heavy paper before cutting your leather, allow extra for folds, edges, and thickness of what ever is going to fit in the sheath or holster that you're making.
    . Keep your hands and workplace clean, once you stain or mark leather it's there for good.

    Finally, yes I know that the above is not exactly without forethought, expense, or effort like some others have suggested, but it's the difference between making something that works or making something that works and that you can be proud to own and show off.

    Good luck, leather working is enjoyable and rewarding, have fun with it.
     
  9. jpoe88

    jpoe88 Supporter Supporter

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    I appreciate all the info. I have some stuff I want to buy, but figured why not learn on my own, even if I come out spending a little more.
     
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  10. CountryRoots

    CountryRoots As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

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    I got started in January, and everything @RiceOnSuede has recommended so far has been awesome!

    I use a folding box cutter from Harbor Freight and I change out the blade whenever I feel the need. I don’t see why you need anything else!

    I got started with a half shoulder of 7-9oz veg tanned from Tandy, still using it up.

    I still use a rotary leather hole punch from the farm store. It works, but you eventually will want some punches, as you can’t reach too far with a rotary.

    For stitching, I highly recommend 1mm ritza thread from RMLeather, with the matching needles. This is more $, but much better quality thread than what I got at Tandy!

    I also started out with a groving blade I held in my vice grips. I just got a Grover/beveler combo from Springfield leather and I really like it!

    I started out using a fork for spacing and a speedy stitcher for an awl... I don’t recommend the speedy stitcher (it was given to me). Now I have two 5mm diamond punches and a spacing tool... I like it a lot more! I also got a matching awl for the diamond punches.

    I also made a burnishing tool with some small files and a piece of wood from the woods. (Sorry, no picture)

    All these upgrades, and a little bit of practice, made a huge difference!

    A4314948-1023-49F7-B773-0E7837EE986C.jpeg
    My third or fourth try (above)was better than the first (not shown to protect innocent eyes)

    4E7A74D2-8CF2-4999-85F5-08B47E5E8970.jpeg
    But nothing like what I can do with the new tools! (Blast, that blade of grass looks like a scratch! Maybe @BradGad can send me a better one...)

    If you just want to make stuff that works, Tandy has everything you need and more. That said, everything I’ve read says their tools aren’t very high quality. Take it all with a grain of salt!
     

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  11. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter

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    I couldn't agree with you more, but did you ever see a true craftsman that didn't have a good collection of tools, that save him time and effort, that elevates his ability and skills ?
    I started 30 years ago because I wanted a custom made primitive 18th. century hunting bag, factory made generic bags and possibles pouches were inexpensive and available, but they weren't period correct and mostly cheaply made, so I decided to make my own, how hard could it be, and how much skill did to take to cut some leather into a shape and sew it together ?
    Well along about the third try I started to get the knack of it, friends started to ask me to make bags, sheaths, and holsters for them, I learned pretty quickly that all the skills in the world could make you better to a point, but they couldn't make it easier of faster for you, but the right tools could.
    About a year later I had business cards, I was filling orders from all over the country for leather goods and custom horn products from people I never met through word of mouth.
    Due to arthritis I had to give up the business but still do some work for family and friends to keep my hand in, so I do speak from experience.
    I was raised in a French Canadian home in an area that was mostly French Canadian and Italian, there used to be a saying about craftsmen and craftmanship, whenever a person hired a workman to do a project and it turned out shoddy folks would say "that's what you get for hiring a Canadian finished carpenter, the joke being that a Canadian finish carpenter's tool box consisted of a double bit axe, a broken yard stick, and an old hammer.
    The point being yes you can do just about anything without the right tools if you know how, but knowing how and having the right tools will always make it work better and look better, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :28:
     
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  12. Moe M.

    Moe M. Supporter Supporter

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    Maybe we just have a different understanding of "something to be proud of", slapping two pieces of leather together and whip stitching it together so it holds a knife may be a great achievement for one person while it's strictly a short term utilitarian solution to another, I guess I'm just too picky, I'll own that, I'm easy. :57:
     
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  13. CountryRoots

    CountryRoots As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

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    I think you might be taking things a little too far with the sarcasm... mind turning it down a hair? I really enjoy seeing your thoughts and handy work, and am really curious about learning how to do it without buying all the tools the marketing department says I need...

    ...it just seems this is degenerating into something that isn’t fun to read.
     
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  14. freebirdfb

    freebirdfb Bushmaster

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  15. White Falcon

    White Falcon Scout

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    YouTube has a lot of information. Trim your finger nails, as they will leave marks on wet leather when you are working on it.
     
  16. dial1911

    dial1911 Supporter Supporter

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    Yeah- this is real true. I've had to learn to hold things with the sides of my fingers, not just the tips.
     
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  17. LongChinJon

    LongChinJon Supporter Supporter

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  18. Uncle Duke 520

    Uncle Duke 520 Scout

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    A Speedy Stitcher, some harness needles, and a bit of dental floss will get you started. Good luck! Have fun!
     
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  19. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    leather and Sharpies should not be in the same room w/ each other ;-)
     
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  20. White Falcon

    White Falcon Scout

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    I use them some times for color on edges.
     
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  21. Doubles

    Doubles Guide

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    Good advice above. A little more. Stay away from stamps! They're a money pit! Course, if ya like to do that, cool. I seldom, like almost never, use the ones I scoured Craigslist for...:34:
     
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  22. dial1911

    dial1911 Supporter Supporter

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    Finally have a few pictures to add... Leave your pieces too long and glue them. Then trim to size after the glue has set... way easier than trying to make perfectly cut edges match.

    Edit coming from my phone which has the pictures-

    20190725_184807.jpg

    20190725_184812.jpg

    20190725_201609.jpg 20190725_204813.jpg
     
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