Have you ever heard the saying, “a smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from others”? Here, you can learn to avoid leatherwork mistakes, discover how to best use leather tools and be guided on finding the best leatherworking videos to teach you how to turn your leatherwork into success, without requiring a lifetime spent in leathercraft.
You want a clear surface, either a table or desk, with a strong lamp or overhead light; dim working conditions are a recipe for slips of the hand and leatherwork mistakes. Get hold of the three different cutting surfaces, 1) Self healing cutting board for knife strokes, so as not to damage the blade. 2) A hard surface of granite or stone for hammering the leather. 3) A simple kitchen cutting board for punching holes.
Neatly arranging your space to fit your tools is what makes the difference between a disorganised table and an efficient workbench. You can imagine which one gets creativity flowing better. There’s no need to start out with only the finest tools either, it's better to upgrade your inventory over time as you learn more about different leathertools and how best to use them. An inexpensive kit is the best place to start.
Remember, your workplace is where the magic happens. It needs to be safe, clean and invigorating. You want a place that feels calm, encouraging patience while you work, ensuring that you create measured, quality leatherwork.
Choosing the right leather for your product.
With a safe, inspiring workplace established, what about the leather itself? There are two simple questions to consider for leatherwork: type and thickness. You need to decide on these based on what you are crafting. What will the structure be? What about utility? Texture, smooth or rough?
In terms of type, Top grain gives a more classic leather look and feel, the kind you’d find in a belt or wallet, whereas Split, Suede and Nubuck provide a softer, subtle touch better used in linings or more delicate crafts.
For thickness, if you’re designing something more intricate or supple, thinner is more desirable, with thicker leather playing its part when you are looking for structure or durability. Here are some examples:
- Wallet: Thick, top grain.
- Bookmark: Thin, suede.
- Keyring: Medium, top grain
The type of tools to use
You’ll find a plethora of leatherworking videos by artisans across the internet telling you the best leathertools to make a start in leatherwork. There really is no right or wrong answer to where you should begin, but it's always a good idea to seek advice. Here’s a handy list of types of tools that you should get hold of, but you should absolutely hunt for some leatherworking videos to get some new perspectives on leathertools.
- Lightweight precision knife
- Round Knife
- Cutting mat
- Scratch Awl
- Edge guide
- Edge Beveller
- Lightweight or Heavyweight Mallet
- Chisel Punches
- Harness needles and Waxed thread
- Wood Slicker
Tools in hand, leatherwork awaits. Here are some hints and pointers to help you make the best of your materials; there’s always something to learn that will help to improve your craft!
Simple mistakes to avoid:
- Keep your hand behind the blade’s direction as you cut. This is true of any cutting tool, including Edge Bevellers. It will save you from a sharp knock to your hand.
- When wetting the edges of leather, keep the sponge dry enough that it doesn’t spill water across the top grain. Nobody wants a stain on their pristine surface leather.
- Don’t get impatient. All the worst mistakes come from rushing things. Always restrain yourself and work methodically and patiently.
4 mistakes to avoid while saddle stitching
- Measure your thread!
Don’t guess. Even as little as two inches too short can have dire consequences to your leatherwork. Try cutting slightly more than 4X the length of your project, ensuring you never run into this nightmare scenario.
- Puncturing your thread as you stitch.
Using two needles, you can accidentally nick the thread from the other needle as you pass through the hole, puncturing the thread, which you absolutely want to avoid. You can tell when you’ve done this if there’s some pressure or friction when passing thread through. If it doesn’t glide through clean, check what’s happened and fix it if you can.
- Maintain uniform Stitch tension
To get that perfect, flush look to your stitching, you need to ensure that every stitch you pull is done with the same gentle pressure, moving methodically from stitch to stitch.
10 leather tips tricks and hacks
- Clean your needle: Using a Thread Zap or soldering iron, or even a simple lighter, you can melt the waxy residue left in the eye of your needle, making it much easier to thread.
- Singing your stitching: Rather than an open flame, a Thread zap or Soldering Iron can be used for finishing off your stitches with a safe burn.
- Trim allowance: Leave extra space around your project that will be cut off to give it perfect, flush edges. It saves sanding down your edges afterwards, as cutting off your trim allowance will give a clean cut.
- Hammer your stitches: Whether hand or machine stitching, lightly hammering the stitches gives a lovely finish to the project.
- Use edge dye markers: This is the quickest and most accurate way to mark the edge of your leather, giving it that glossy, glassy sheen.
- Sketch your design: Keep your vision clear from start to finish by marking it out on paper.
- Rivet on a hard surface: Keep your anvil sturdy on hard surfaces, so that the rivets won’t bounce around.
- Rivet from directly above: If not, the rivet will slip and can get mangled.
- Practice new techniques: Don’t risk trying a new technique on a major project, test it out on some scraps first.
- Find inspiration online: Pinterest and leather blogs can really spark your imagination. Google a project and discover how others have gotten creative with it.
There’s a lot to take in, but learn these leathercraft lessons, watch some more leathercraft videos, gather your leathertools and start your leatherwork. Mistakes will be left far behind when you gather your knowledge and turn your leathercraft into a success!
>>> Crafted By: Catherine Williams <<<