View Full Version : Where would I find used sewing machines for leather?

Scott Shepherd
04-09-2012, 12:13 PM
For many years now I have always wanted a sewing machine to sew leather. I don't know why, because I don't work with too much leather. I'm not in a rush for one. If I find it a year from now, that'll be fine too, but what I'd like to find is just a old, used, good condition machine that I can use as a hobby machine. I have zero interest in buying anything new.

I spent some time with a master leathersmith several years back, but he did all his work by hand due to the products he made.

Any suggestions on what to look for? Brands, etc? Anything to avoid? I assume I'll spend some time on ebay and Craigslist, hoping one will pop up over time, but if someone knows a better source to pick one up, I'm open for suggestions.


Ken Fitzgerald
04-09-2012, 12:17 PM
Scott....do a Google search using "Used shoe repair equipment". My FIL and MIL ran a shoe store and shoe repair store for nearly 40 years. They repaired everything leather.

David H. Mitchell
04-09-2012, 12:32 PM
Try Craigslist. I bought a nice Singer, and older machine for $100.00, works great.

Dave Mitchell

Rich Engelhardt
04-09-2012, 12:55 PM
Most standard sewing machines can stitch leather.
Obviously, the heavier the machine the better.

Singer has special leather needles in (hang on a sec while I look it up) -yep #14 and #16. Sears and Amazon both carry them $5 for a pack from Sears and ~ $10 from Amazon for a pack.

You'll also want to look into a skiving machine for prepping the seams.

Sorry - but - that right there is about the total extent of what I remember from my "hippy days" back in the early 1970's.
I made a few leather items (boots and a couple of hats) and did all the stiching by hand.
I asked @ Tandy about using a machine and they said any good heavy Singer with the right needles and bobbins would work on most leather.

I'd say hit the yard/garage sales for an old Singer and pick up some leather needles and give it a try.

Ben Hatcher
04-09-2012, 12:58 PM
Back in college, I had the opportunity to work with an automotive upholstery shop for a project. They did plenty of leather car seats. Though car seat leather may be thinner than what you're planning to work on, the guy I worked with swore by his Consew machine and the guy next to him swore by his Juki. The feature he said made a upholstery machine different from a regular machine is a walking foot which works with the feed dogs below to pull both layers of material sumultaniously. There are various needle feed options as well. I think the compound feed is considered the best for working with very heavy materials. Good luck. Some of these machines are more expensive than a good cabinet saw.

Zach England
04-09-2012, 12:59 PM
That depends on whether you want a home sewing machine or and "industrial" (clutch drive) sewing machine.

ray hampton
04-09-2012, 7:56 PM
the saddle shops if there is one close to you may be able to help

Dennis Peacock
04-10-2012, 9:33 AM
I can give you several pointers on this very subject. I have an industrial sewing machine and table sitting less than 6 feet from me right now. I can tell you that if you buy a used machine and table? Replace the clutch motor with a servo motor. The control you get with a servo motor is GREATLY better than trying to figure out how to control a clutch motor. On the other hand, it's what you get used to using, but I never liked the clutch motor and the constant hum/noise of the clutch motor. The servo motor only makes a slight noise when you press the foot pedal.

Check your local upholstery shops and especially check your local upholstery supply businesses. They may have an old machine or 2 in the back that could use some minor fixing that you can buy for a song or 2. The BIG names in industrial sewing are Juki, Pfaff, Consew, Chandler, Yamata, and Tacsew. Just make sure you get a "walking foot" machine so that it will walk the thick material through your machine. This helps with quality of stitch and reduces user frustration. ;)

BTW, a real nice machine that is an excellent machine is the Consew 206RB-5. I have a Yamata FY5318 but wish I had of bought a Consew 206 or maybe a Chandler instead. But hey, we all have to learn what we like and don't like. :)