Leathercraft Tools & Supplies

Leather crafting by hand is an enjoyable hobby. You can create beautiful handcrafted items for yourself or to give as treasured gifts. Leather crafting requires special tools and supplies which you can read about below.

What techniques are used in leather crafting?

There are several techniques that are used in making items, and it is not uncommon to see more than one technique used on any one item. Techniques that you can choose from include carving, dyeing, laser cutting and etching, molding and shaping, painting, perforating, and pyrographing.

What tools and materials are used for leather projects?

Following is an explanation of the tools and materials you'll need and the techniques you can use to complete various leather projects:

  • Carving: Carving is done by pressing tools into moistened leather to give the project a three-dimensional appearance. Tools that are used include swivel knives, background tools, cams, seeders, pear shaders, bevelers, veiners, punch instruments, and rawhide or nylon mallets.
  • Dyeing: Usually spirit/alcohol-based dyes are used. These dyes quickly absorb deeply into moistened leather. Contrasting is done with hi-liters and antiquing stains and even with no staining. Many alternative dyes are used, including shoe polish. Neatsfoot and linseed oil both darken and preserve. Wax paste gives a good final coat.
  • Cutting/etching: Laser cutting and etching is done with a carbon dioxide laser tool. This tool cuts through leather at full power, and it etches your project at low power.
  • Molding and shaping: Molding and shaping is done by soaking the leather in hot or room temperature water, shaping it around a mold, and then letting it completely dry while on the mold. You can carve before molding, but you need to dye the leather after it has been molded to prevent fading.
  • Painting: Unlike dyes, paints stay on top of the leather instead of absorbing into it. They are thus not applied (unless latex paint is used) in places where an item will be bent or on items that will be heavily used and scuffed. Acrylic paint is the paint of choice for stationary goods such as pictures. Crafted wall pictures should not be covered in glass or they may mold.
  • Perforating: Perforation is done to connect two sheets of leather by stitching them together with a strong lace or to decorate the leather. Holes are made with a hole punch tool.
  • Pyrographing: Fire is not involved. Instead, a hot needle is used to draw a picture. The heat darkens the leather where it is touched.
  • Stamping: Stamp tools are placed on vegetable-tanned, moistened leather and struck with a mallet to create designs. The project is then left to dry and is afterwards conditioned with oils and fats to waterproof it and to keep the imprints from deforming.