Leather Working

Leather craft is the art of making articles from leather that are both useful and beautiful. It is one of the oldest known crafts. Tanning and leatherwork call for a comparatively small investment in tools but can yield a great amount of satisfaction.

History - Instructions - Online Tools - Patterns - Projects

Leather Working History

The craft of tanning is older than civilization itself. Chemical tanning, as it is practiced today, existed at least 5,000 years ago there are Egyptian wall paintings showing tanners at work with their tubs and mixing vats. Long before that, our prehistoric ancestors used the hides of animals to clothe themselves.

Leather Working Tutorials

Leather Crafting

Leather crafting is making objects out of leather, the first step is to layout the design of the finished item, then cut assemble and finish it.

There are many different ways of finishing and decorating the leather, dying, punching, embossing, lacing and other stitching methods all add character to the finished product. Several techniques may be utilized depending on the design of the article.

Getting Started

With only these four tools it is possible to get started working with leather:

1. Beveler

Available from Amazon.com

You just push a beveler at an angle along a cut edge to remove the sharp corner to acheive a finished look.

2. Adjustable Punch

Available from Amazon.com

With this punch you can make different size clean holes for lacing, rivets, belt buckles, etc. Eventually you will likely aquire separate punches that you hit with a hammer to make the hole, these come in onlong shapes as well to cut slots.

Until you get a slot punch you can punch a hole at each end and cut between the holes with your knife.

3. Awl

Available from Amazon.com

A scratch awl is invaluable when working with leather, use it to mark your leather as you lay out your design, enlarge holes etc.

4. A good sharp knife.


You can start with a utility knife, eventually you will find that there are several knives that you will prefer for different tasks.
Use a straight edge to cut against, a small metal square works well for this, keep the utility knife perpendicular to the work being cut, and the blade at about 45 degrees to the working surface.

About Leather

Full Grain or Top Grain Leather is a good grade to start with, it can be used for belts, handbags, and many other projects.
It is the upper layer of the hide which is split into layers by a splitting machine to various thicknesses. This outer layer will show natural scars and hair cell patterns if left as uncorrected natural grain. The thickness can vary depending on the guage set at the time of splitting and the application. Thereafter the hides can be colored and given various finishes.

Leather can be dyed different colors, there are special dyes made for leather as well as products to finish and protect the leather.

Basic Leather Carving

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Early man made foot coverings and clothing from leather. Throughout time, leather was used in many other ways. In the middle ages people drank from leather cups, wore leather armor, and rowed in leather boats.

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