If you are planning to engage in leatherworking and dream of fashioning a piece of leather into a lovely artwork, you need to be cognizant of the simple skills on how to handle and design leather. Likewise, you also have to get ahold of the different leatherworking tools to facilitate your leatherwork. Here are some of the basic leatherworking tools that you must have before you start tinkering with any leather stuff.
First, you have to buy awls which you will definitely use in piercing holes into the leather. These awls come in various kinds and sizes. We got the clicker awl which has tapered, straight and round cross-section. The clicker awl is usually used for piercing small holes on the leather. There is also the scratch awl, which has a thicker shaft. Likewise, you have to buy the harness or bridle awl, which has a diamond-shaped handle and blade, and is commonly used to pierce holes before stitching the leather. Moreover, you will also need the stabbing awl which has a round cross-section and a straight blade. It has a very fine sharp point and comes in handy when you are stitching soft leather. You can usually buy a complete set of these awls, and the set may also include hammer and other useful tools.
Next, you have to buy some metal leather punches for making larger holes. The chisel punch has a pointed or oval cutting face which will enable you to produce a pointed symmetrical end or round end on the ends of the strap. Also buy some crew punches which are used to produce neat elongated slots on the strap where the buckles will be attached. The crew punches are available in various sizes. There is also the round and oval punches which are used to punch holes for straps and belts. These punches are usually used together with the cutting block and mallet to prevent their faces from blunting. Moreover, avail yourself of the revolving punch which has six different punch sizes on its rotating head; you could select whatever size you want to use by simply rotating the head. Just make sure that you don’t blunt the sharp edge of the rotating head. Lastly, you have to buy also a wad punch which is a round punch used for piercing larger holes and for cutting out washers.
You also need some creasing tools to enable you to readily mark the edges and vertices of the leather to be creased. Likewise, creasing tools could create thin line on the edge of leather. These thin lines help to seal the fibers aside from its decorative function. These creasing tools are commonly used on harness. The creasing tools are often heated first over a flame before applying it on the leather surface. Moreover, the use of creasing tools requires a lot of practice to master it. There are three kinds of creasing tools. There is the single crease which has a flat head and is shaped like a shield with blunt edge. We also got the double crease which has double crease blades and is shaped somewhat like a head of an axe. This double crease produces cross-hatching and parallel lines. Lastly, we got the screw crease which is similar to single crease but has a double crease end. It has a screw at its end which can readily be adjusted to regulate the distance between the heads.
You also need Hammers and mallets for your leatherworks. One kind of hammer is the saddler’s hammer which has a lengthy head with flat end. This is used for staple drive and general tack. Likewise, the wedge-shaped end is used for accessing difficult corners of the leather. Harness Hammer, on the other hand, got a head which is shaped like a mushroom. Its face has a convex shape which is usually used for hammering wet leather into the desired shape. It doesn’t damage the surface of the leather, and it can easily flatten the stitches. You also need mallets which come in different shapes and sizes. The various heads of mallets are made of varying materials, and these mallets are generally utilized for pricking punches and irons.
You also need knives in your leatherwork and these knives come in various kinds. Here are the different kinds of knives used in leatherwork:
- The round knife has a blade which is semi-circular in shape. It usually comes in diameters of 100, 125 or 150mm with a handle. This is usually used for making long cuts because it has a sharp long edge.
- The single head knife is half as big as the head of a round knife. Sometimes it has a hook. This is very useful in cutting old stitching, specifically when doing some repair work on the leather.
- Double headed knife has two heads at each side.
- Paring knife has chisel-ended blade. This is used for making thin shavings as it glide across the surface. This is also used for paring down the edges of the leather before gluing and stitching.
- Bevel point paring knife is used for chopping strap ends. This knife, together with the paring knife, should be used with marble block to avoid damages to the edge.
- Shoe maker’s knife is basically a flat blade knife with a wooden handle. This is used for many purposed and for trimming of the edge of the leather.
- Clicking knife is used for cutting out. It has a hallow edge which allows leathers to be cut easily without dragging it.
Moreover, you need races. These races are used to cut a U or V-shaped pattern or groove on the leather. Races help in easing the bending, and act as a channel for protected stitching. There are three kinds of races: first, there is the single race which is a steel bar that has a cutter at one end, and it is usually dragged across the work to produce a groove; double race is like the single race but with different sizes of cutter at the end; lastly, the American race is also used to gouge out a new groove on the leather surface.
You also have to buy a grooving tool which is designed for cutting little grooves for covert stitching. The grooving tool has easy to adjust depth and is pushed across the work.
Likewise, you really need to have needles of various sizes and shapes. You need these needles in stitching threads across the leather. There are different kinds of needles. We have the harness needles which have blunted end and come in various sizes of 47mm to 62mm. There are also the Glovers needles which have a triangular cross-section. They are often used to sew soft leathers like the leathers of doeskin and sheepskin.
Aside from needles, you also have to buy stitch marking or pricking iron of various sizes. These pricking irons have teeth which are hand ground and are commonly used to guide the stitching.
There are other tools and materials such as beeswax, bone folder, burnishers, chisel punches, cork block, crew punches, dividers compass, edge burnishing solution, edge stain, Edge tools or edge bevellers, glues, linen thread, marble stone, loop clamp, loop irons, rubbing stick, stitching clamps, sharpening equipment, and strap cutter or plough gauge which you need to buy to complete your leatherworking tools. All these tools are necessary and are designed to facilitate your leatherworks.