Leatherworking is an excellent way to showcase my creativity, and using the proper tools makes my task simpler to execute tasks with excellent results. Whether adding extra holes to my leather belt or making leather earrings, bracelets, and other accessories, having the right leather crafting tools makes the job easier and more exciting.
However, finding the right leather working tools could be a lot of work. Thus, I have created a leatherworking tools list to make things easier for folks who are keen on creating various leather products.
The list of basic leatherworking tools often consists of needles, awls, skivers, mallets, edge beveler, chisels, hole punches, skiving knives, burnishers, creasers, and groovers. Each tool has specific functions, ranging from cutting and joining to smoothening and defining. So, this guide will help you identify these leatherworking equipment and explain their various functions.
List of Tools for Leatherworking
Whether you are trying to build a beginner leatherworking tool kit or looking for professional leatherworking tools, it is crucial to learn and identify the various tools available and tell what they are used for. So, here’s a list of basic leather working tools you can use to craft different leather types into finished leather products.
Hole punches are employed for making holes in leather materials and are commonly used for boring holes in belts, sandal straps, and bracelets. You would find that these tools are usually metal bits with sharp circular ends that cut neat holes with crisp edges on any leather piece.
Kindly note that hole punches were originally designed to work with a mallet. However, several adaptations of this design are common, as many hole punches now come as an operable hand-held device. Such a hole punch is shaped like a plier with several bits of different sizes.
However, the traditional hole punches require that you place the sharp, narrow end on the leather fabric before applying pressure using a hammer or mallet. With newer models, however, you only need to place the fabric between the hole punches and squeeze the handles.
A stitching awl is a leather working tool used for creating holes in leather pieces and for widening existing holes in leather fabrics. It has a handle often made of wood and a point made of sharp metal on one end. The tip is often chisel-shaped, and sharpness is crucial for penetrating without harming the material.
One can secure the awl in a hammer or mallet for increased power while striking through the material because the opposite end of the handle is often flat. Many leather artisans use this tool when cutting and sewing leather items like belts, saddles, harnesses, and shoes.
Edge burnishers are often employed to give the edges of leather fabrics their glossy finish. Working with leather comes with lots of cutting, and without burnishing the edges of cut leather fabrics, the fibers of the material will appear dull and unattractive. So, an edge burnisher works by using friction to generate heat that compresses the fibers of leather fabrics.
Most leather edge burnishers come as a hand-held device shaped like a carrot, with grooves at the larger end. These grooves are of different sizes, enabling you to work with various leather fabric gauges. The handle also fits nicely in your palm, giving you a secure hold on the leather tool. You only need to rub the edge burnisher back and forth along the leather material’s edge.
Also, you can find an electric-operated edge burnisher, which comes with grooved disks that are run by an electric motor. The grooves are also of different sizes. You only need to provide a secure base for the burnisher and move the leather fabric between the grooves while the machine runs.
Besides improving the appearance of the leather fabric, edge burnishers also help leather fabrics last longer, and sealing the edges of leather fabrics locks in the natural oils and preservatives in the fabric.
Leather groovers are also commonly referred to as stitching groovers and are used for creating grooves in leather fabrics. Such tools can be used to create marking, stitching, and folding lines. Marking lines are light grooves that can be used as a guide for stitching or cutting leather pieces.
Whereas stitching lines are used to provide a depth on the leather fabric to accommodate stitches and make them level with the surface of the leather fabric. And folding lines are deeper grooves that enable leather workers to fold leather fabrics without forming any creases. The leather groover usually comes with a handle, a chuck, a guide arm, and a scribing head.
Place the guide arm on the leather piece to create neat grooves on the leather. Then apply a little force to the groover before pushing it along the length of the leather fabric. Ensure that the guide arm remains in contact with the fabric throughout the grooving process. This way, you avoid creating warped grooves.
Leather skivers are used for stripping thin layers off leather pieces. Skiving is used to decrease the thickness of leather fabrics to make them easier to fold or bend. You would find that traditionally hand-held skivers often have sharp blades at one end; nevertheless, there are many electrical skivers in the industry.
Many skivers come with flat blades to give an even shave, while others come with curved blades that shave leather pieces toward the center of the fabric. To use the leather skiver, place the blade on the leather piece. Then apply pressure while pushing it over the surface of the fabric.
This tool could be handy if you wish to join two leather belts. You could skive the overlapping edges to ensure that the joint has the same thickness as the rest of the belt.
The edge beveler, commonly referred to as a leather edger or leather beveler, is used to round the square edges of leather fabrics for a smooth, rounded look. It is a piece of hand-held equipment with a sharp metallic blade, great for rounding the edges of leather belts and straps after cutting them from larger leather pieces. Edge bevelers come in different shapes and sizes; most edge bevelers are flat-bladed, V-shaped, or even curved.
You can bevel the edges of leather pieces by placing the end of the leather beveler on the square end of the fabric. Apply a little pressure on the handle while pushing the beveler toward the edge of the fabric. This way, the edge beveler gradually shaves off the corner of the fabric, and you can adjust the pressure you apply on the edge beveler to either increase or reduce the thickness of the shaving.
Leather stitching needles are slender, cylindrical metal bits with a pointed end and a second rounded head with an ‘eye’ for passing the thread. Stitching needles come in different shapes and sizes, suitable for different leather stitching types. Straight and curved stitching needles are the most common shapes of stitching needles.
However, the stitching needles are usually 1 to 2 inches long, and they can be as thick as .035 to 0.65 inches. Although stitching needles are usually hand-held, there are also many stitching needles for leather sewing machines.
Hand-held leather stitching needles have an eye and a blunt end, and leatherworkers use them by pushing the blunted end through an already existing hole in the leather piece. Machine stitching needles have an eye for fitting them to the leather sewing machine, but they have a sharper pointed end for piercing into leather fabrics.
Crafting finished leather pieces involves lots of measuring and cutting – hence, measuring tapes are handy. Leather measuring tapes are usually made of soft, flexible polyester fabric with steel tips at both ends.
Leather measuring tapes are usually between 1 to 2 feet long and 1 inch thick. The measuring tape length is graded at equal intervals that are clearly marked. This tool also carries different units of measurement across the width to allow you to work with the measure in inches or centimeters.
You can use the measuring tape by placing the start point at the edge of the leather piece before marking off the required lengths onto the fabric. Place any leather material you wish to measure on a flat, even surface before using the measuring tape to avoid errors. Also, it would help to place the tape along the straight edges of the leather fabric when measuring for square pieces.
Leatherworking anvils are mainly used to provide a sturdy surface for these activities. Leather crafting often involves punching, cutting, and stamping, and this tool would be beneficial. Anvils are also ideal for shaping metallic accessories for finished leather products.
Most anvils are usually solid and made of cast iron with a wide flat top. You can also find some leather anvils with round-pointed ends on one or both sides of the narrower edges. This tool is often heavy, weighing as much as 45 pounds.
The flat surface of the anvil makes it great for punching holes and cutting leather bits. Unlike wooden surfaces and other leatherworking surfaces, the surface of the anvil will not easily deform due to metallic cuts.
There are lots of different cutting tools in the leather crafting profession. However, they all have one common feature – metal bits with sharp edges. Leather cutting tools come in different shapes and sizes, but most are hand-held devices. Standard leather working tools include scissors, shears, and rotary blades.
When cutting any leather piece, place the fabric on a steady surface before you begin. It would help to sharpen the edges of leather-cutting tools regularly, as blunt edges do not cut leather pieces neatly. They could lead to errors and even make the edges of leather pieces look frayed.
Leather cutting mats are specially designed leather crafting surfaces that are used for cutting and punching leather pieces. Leather cutting mats are usually self-healing and contain several layers of plastic material. The multiple layers in cutting mats allow sharp blades to sink into them, but not “all the way” through.
Instead of getting deformed, the plastic layers push themselves back into position after the sharp object is removed. Many cutting mats also come with graded surfaces to help you measure and mark the surface of leather pieces. Cutting boards are ideal for using sharp blades and hole punches since they prevent the edges of the blades from dulling.
Diamond chisels are used for making neat hand-stitched holes in leather pieces. While they are available in varying sizes and shapes, most diamond chisels are shaped as a little fork with two or more pronged sharp tips.
You can use most leather diamond chisels alone; all that is needed is to exert a little force with your hand after placing the tip against the fabric. However, some diamond chisels require more force and need a mallet. Nevertheless, you should know that diamond chisels are also great for saddle-stitching leather products.
Leather creasers are used for putting lines and crease into leather pieces. Leatherworkers use creases as a guide for leather stitching, folding leather, or decorative purposes. This tool is usually a rigid metal bar with a smooth surface, measuring about 4 to 8 inches long.
The design allows leather workers to press the bar into the leather and move it smoothly along the material’s surface. This way, the leather creasers leave a clear marking on the leather piece without scratching the fabric’s surface.
Leather gouges are great for scraping off thin layers of leather pieces. This cutting tool is essential for thinning the edges of leather pieces you wish to overlap, bend or fold. By gouging the leather piece, you ensure that the folded edges are not thicker than the rest of the leather piece.
This cutting tool is mainly a hand-held device with a U or V-shaped blade at the tip. Adjustable leather gouges let you alter the depth of leather shavings. However, fixed leather gouges are more common and are of higher quality.
Place the tip of the leather gouge against the leather piece to gouge a leather piece. Then, gently apply some pressure while moving the leather gouge in the desired direction. You can review the material a few times to get your preferred thickness. Additionally, you could adjust the force you use to increase or reduce the thickness of the shavings.
Real leather is thicker than regular crafting materials – therefore, leatherworking scissors are heavier than average crafting scissors. This design allows you to cut neatly through thick leather pieces. Leatherworking scissors come in different sizes, some as long as 8 inches.
Rotary cutters are hand-held cutting tools with sharp circular blades at one point. Some of these blades might be as wide as 3 inches. You use rotary blades by placing the blade on the leather fabric and pushing it in the desired direction.
The blade rolls and sinks into the fabric resulting in neat cuts, making them an excelling tool for cutting out patterns when making leather gloves. Leatherworking scissors and rotary cutters work best when the edges are sharp. Use a cutting mat to prevent the edges from dulling too quickly. Also, sharpen the blades regularly for the best results.
A leather hand-press is the ideal leather crafting tool for stamping out leather pieces. Professional leather workers use the hand-press to emboss leather pieces and add other decorative features to finished leather products.
The hand press usually has a solid base and a pre-made metal die. It also has a hand-held lever. You can use the hand press by placing the leather piece between the base and the die. Then work the lever to force the die against the leather piece.
Leather Thickness Guage
Leather thickness gauges are used to measure the cross-sectional diameter of leather pieces. Most are shaped like calipers, with a fixed sharp claw at one end and a second adjustable claw moving along a graded metal bar.
They carry different units of measurement to allow you to work with your preferred measuring system. However, more advanced leather thickness gauges are now on the market. Besides traditional calipers with digital displays, laser leather thickness gauges measure the thickness of leather pieces by passing the leather piece between two fixed sensors.
Leather mallets are used for driving hole punches, pins, and rivets into leather materials and work by directly applying concentrated force at a point. These mallets come in different shapes and sizes but are typically hand-held devices with a rubber or nylon head.
It is better to hit leather cutting tools with leather mallets, as the blunt edges of the leather mallet will deliver steady blows to various crafting tools without ruining their edges or blunting them. When working with a leather mallet, ensure a steady surface, such as an anvil or a sturdy table. With such provisions, you avoid making rough incisions on the surface of leather fabrics.
This leatherwork tool is usually employed for fastening rivets to leather pieces. Such riveting tools come in various styles and sizes and can effectively create holes on leather pieces, while attaching small metallic rivets. With the help of a riveting machine, professional leatherworkers securely fix the rivet nub and fastener to hold leather pieces firmly– hence, they are handy for making leather bracelets, straps, and belts.
Kindly choose riveting tools of the appropriate size and style for the task. Using the hole punch on the tool, drill a pilot hole on either side of the piece that needs be riveted together. Then, fix the rivet into the riveting tool, and place it on the right post while squeezing the handles together. The riveting tool will mechanically push the rivet cap into place and press it firmly against both leather pieces.
Leatherworkers use the stitching horse to hold leather pieces in place while sewing. It is also called a stitching pony with two wooden arms joined by an adjustable screw. Most artisans place the stitching pony on a flat surface and sit on it, then place the leather piece between the arms of the stitching horse and secure it with the screw.
Working with the stitching horse gives you more freedom to create different leather stitching types, making the process easier and ensuring the outcome is neater.
How to buy leather working tools?
There are several factors that you must consider before you buy leather working tools. Besides ensuring you have all the necessary tools, these factors also ensure you get the best value for your money.
Here’s how to get leather working tools.
Decide what Tools You Need
You do not need all the leather crafting tools you can find since leather crafting is extensive. Therefore, you need to decide what tools should go into your leather working tools kit and the type of leather crafting you will do. With such considerations, you refrain from spending money on leatherworking tools you might never use.
Talk to a Professional
Many leather working tools are in the market, and deciding what brand you should buy might be challenging. However, you can discuss your needs with a professional leather worker; this way, you have a more informed opinion that ensures your money is well spent.
Run a Background Check
Searching for “leather crafting tools near me” will give you many options. Besides online leather working tools vendors, you will also find directions to leather working tools retail stores within your area. However, you must run a background check on any leather working tools supplier before buying from them.
Besides reading customer reviews, look out for licensed suppliers when searching for where to buy leather working tools. Buying from licensed leather working tools suppliers ensures you enjoy product warranties and other customer support services. It also prevents you from spending on counterfeits.
Leatherwork Tools YouTube Video
Crafting leather is easier when you have got all the right tools. With such supplies, you can create attractive leather goods and refurbish old pieces without any hassles. This guide offers a glimpse of leatherworking tool lists, revealing various leatherworking tools and how to use them.
The tools included in this piece lay the groundwork for a productive and satisfying leatherworking experience. Every tool used, from shaping and cutting to stitching and finishing, has a specific function and improves the overall quality of the finished item.