View Full Version : Anybody do leather work?

Dennis Peacock
04-07-2010, 4:54 PM
I guess it's another interest of mine, but I've always wanted to learn a bit about leather work and making my own belts, wallets, and such. Anybody here work leather and know an inexpensive way to start out to see if I like that line of craft or not?

Inquiring minds wanna know.

Kenneth Hertzog
04-07-2010, 5:09 PM
I do leather work such as wallets, check book covers, holsters, and other items. I have an account with Tandy Leather but in our area Michaels also carries some of there items. I do laser engraving on them. Can also do outline for the punches and design work.

Charlie Reals
04-07-2010, 5:23 PM
+1 what Ken said. I have used Tandy leather for all of my supplies for years. I don't do wallets, just leather goods for buck skinners and black powder shooters in my area.

Dennis Peacock
04-07-2010, 6:43 PM
There are so many tools to choose from and I have no clue on what to do to even get myself started with a piece of leather.

I'll check out Tandy.

Jim Becker
04-07-2010, 8:30 PM
I'll also suggest Tandy Leather as a good starting point.

travis howe
04-07-2010, 8:48 PM
I too have / had a keen interest in leather work... not only growing up on a horse/cattle ranch w/ all the leather work and tooling that came along w/ the associated gear. I thought it would be a fun addition to my hobby (wworking) and maybe add a few leather pieces to some woodworking projects.

I got lucky and found someone getting out of the business and bought about every tool and book known from Tandy.

I enjoyed it, learned to respect it a LOT but in the end just sold it all... simply not enough time, lots of learning and not enough time to learn...on top of learning new woodworking things, just didn't work for me!

Rob Fisher
04-07-2010, 10:09 PM
I taught leatherwork merit badge at boy scout camp about 15 years ago when I worked there for one summer. I remember a bit about it.

First I would ask (like when getting into woodworking) what do you want to make? You mention belts and wallets. I will assume that you are buying your leather tanned and to the desired thickness, as I don't know a lot about how to tan or thickness.

Cutting the leather to size can be done with about any knife and straight edge. They may make special ones but to start any knife will probably do. You will need something to put holes or slits in the edges of the leather so you can fold a piece and attach it to itself, or attach multiple pieces together. There are the punches that you hold in your hand and use similar to a paper single hole punch (usually these have a rotatable head that has several different sizes on them). There are also single punches that you strike with a hammer or mallet similar to using an awl to mark a point only the leather cutters actually remove a small circle of leather. There are also slitters similar to the single punches. Slitters do not remove leather, they only make a cut in it as the name suggests. They are struck with a mallet as well. Once you have holes you need waxed thread (or some other similarly heavy thread) to sew the pieces together. I liked to use heavy leather needles, essentially large sewing needles, but there are also stitchers, to sew the pieces together.

There are also a lot of different tools to decorate the leather. These are like stamps that you use to make imprints in the leather. Typically struck with a mallet, on dampened leather.

There is a ton more that I am sure I never learned so you may be best to start with a good book. Beyond at that I would recommend starting with a few punches (or one of the rotating ones), a few needles, some waxed thread, a rawhide mallet (thats what we typicalled used anyway, a plastic one would work too) and some 1/4" hardboard or masonite to use as your sacrificial striking surface.

I hope this helps.


Jim King
04-07-2010, 11:03 PM
I like the mixture of materials in projects for the effect.

Zachary Buckholz
04-22-2010, 12:50 AM
Does anyone have any secrets for laser cutting leather?

I can cut large leather shapes, but when I try doing intricate filigree patterns the results are less than optimal.

I tried soaking in water, Vaseline, and a mixture of both.

I have tried increasing the frequency of the laser all the way, increasing the speed as fast as possible, and lowering the power so its just making it through.

I get black edges that are very dirty.

The Vaseline helps a lot on the outside surface.

After cutting I even tried soaking in nail polish remover to clean it.

Mike Sheppard
04-23-2010, 8:07 AM
I did that 30 years ago, the folks at Tandy know me by name. I have tools and books stashed in a box someware. I would sell for 1/2 of cost. If you have any interest I will get a pic. and list and sent it to you.

Zach England
04-23-2010, 8:16 AM
I did as a kid. My tools have all been passed on to...someone I hope.

What I do like these days is upholstery and I have been wanting to make some furniture pieces with leather tops--like "cowboy" furniture but more contemporary.

Jim Finn
04-24-2010, 8:39 PM
What I did to try out leather work: I went to Tandy Leather store and they gave me a free lesson one on one. That was all it took to get me going. They sold me some leather and a few tools to get started with. I ended up coming back to buy more tools and did quite a lot of leather tooling which I inlayed into wooden objects instead of carving on them. MUCH quicker and you can get a LOT more detail by tooling leather than by carving it.