The 12 Leather crafting tools that you can use from a Beginner to a Master.
There are so many brands of leather handcrafting tools available on the internet. Some of them are sold at a fair price, and some of them are relatively expensive. As a beginner, you don’t need to buy the beginner bundle to get the tools you might not use forever or buy some fancy tools. What you will need is to buy some tools that are suitable to your crafting style.
In this paragraph, I will introduce some of the very basic tools that every beginner will need and that may work along with you even if you mastered your crafting skills later on.
An Awl is the first tool you will be using when you start leather crafting. Before you will start cutting leather. The awl allowed you to draw along the pattern on the leather. Leaving scratches on the leather with the tip and then allowing you to cut the leather out. Using pens of leather is not recommended as inks may spread and dye the leather edges. An awl should be fitting your hands, usually depending on the handle size. Some awls were designed with very small ball-shaped handles. I personally think these awls’ handles were too small. A normal handle will be better.
A good cutter leads you halfway to a successful craft. The Japan NT-cutter is a brand I have been using for years and highly recommended, with the anti-slip function you may cut leather fluently without concerning the shaking blade. Always keep your blade sharp in order to cut out beautiful leather pieces without fluffy edges. You may see some professionals prefer using a Utility Knife during cutting leather. The most common utility knife was in the Japanese style. They are good for cutting and edge thinning as a full handcraft professional. However, as I beginner I would recommend a cutter more than a utility knife.
3. Cutting Mat
To work well with your cutter, a cutting mat is highly preferred rather than cutting on your desk/ wasted leathers/ granite surface. Not to mention the damage to your desk, cutting on an improper surface will consume your cutter blade faster than usual. A properly cut surface also helps you to keep the leather edges you cut sharp and tidy.
4. CMC/ Tokonole
The traditional CMC or the Japanese brand Tokonole burnishing gum is used to help compress the leather fiber of vegetable-tanned leather back surface, which is the basic handcraft leather that is very suitable for all-level crafters. The compression gives the leather a smooth back surface other than fluffy touches. The CMC/ Tokonole can also help compress the fiber of leather edges. Providing a fine edge finish to the crafted leather goods.
A compass is used to help you draw a very perpendicular line along leather edges. As a beginner, you may use a compass to draw stitching lines (usually 3mm from the edges). The stitching lines can assist your punching of picking iron. The holes will deeply affect the outlook of your final threading. Others will usually judge if you are a professional or an amateur by looking at your thread.
6. Hole Punch
Hole punches are tools that cannot be replaced. You may find bundles in shops or websites selling you batches of hole punch from 1mm, 2mm, 2.5mm to 10mm. The fun fact is you seldom use some of them. For example, the most common hole punches I used are 2.5mm, 3mm & 4mm only for snap button installation. The others are rarely used. If you want to buy your hole punch tools economically, find your preferred buttons. Check the hole size they need and just buy the fit-size hole punches.
7. Picking Iron
The picking irons are used for punching stitching holes. They are usually divided into 2 styles – Japanese style in ♢ shape or French style in / shape. Depending on your own favor, you may choose one style and one spacing. Usually, they have 3mm, 3.38mm, 3.85mm, or 4mm hole spacing. With closer spacing, the outcome of leather goods will look more royal and fine. However, it will take you a longer stitching time than wider hole-spacing pricking irons.
8. Mallet & Punching Plate
Having a mallet that fits you is a lot more important than how luxurious and expensive the mallet is. Both wood or rubber material mallet is fine for punching. However, weight is the most important you have to concern about. A heavy mallet saves your power when having a large project by just letting the mallet free fall on the picking iron. But if you have small strength a lighter mallet will be better for you. What you need is just a few more punches every time.
Never try to use a heavy mallet that you are not powerful enough. It will hurt your wrist and trust me, it does not worth it. (I tried it before).
The punching plate was used to protect your working surface and also your tools. The tips on the picking irons & hole punches are sharp and thin. Imagine rubbing blade edges on a stone/ granite. It will flatten the blade and your tools will not function well.
There are different kinds of glues that can be used to glue leather. The Pattex classic liquid glue is my favorite. Applying thin layers on both sizes. Wait a moment until both sizes are dried. Then you may put the leather pieces together. This glue is powerful enough but the most important thing is, you may unglue it by tearing the glued pieces apart. Also if you accidentally applied too much. You may easily remove the spread glues with your finger. The Pattex classic liquid glue is by far the best glue I have used.
10. Needle & Thread
For needles, I prefer round-tip hand-stitch leather needles. The round tip needles can protect your fingers and also the leather surface from being hurt & scratch.
For threads, 0.55mm or 0.35mm waxed nylon thread is preferred for beginners. These thread sizes can provide a beautiful looking on the finished leather good than thicker threads. If you used threads that are called “Beginner Thread” which are usually super thick, almost 1mm in size. The outcome will not be good and that will rapidly chop your interest on keep crafting leather.
Sandpapers have different grit sizes. Having 2 sizes, 400 & 1000 as I usually use, will be enough for sanding leather edges. Using even higher grit will not affect the smoothness of the edges.
Burnisher was used to burnish the leather edges together with Tokonole. It can help give a smooth and fine edge finish. No more furs.
As a beginner, you may have different style preferences. For example edge paints, bevel dying edges, or even leather carving styles leather goods. Other than the above basic tools I have just mentioned, you will need more tools to complete your dream projects. Keep searching for what you need on your own crafting path.
I hope this paragraph can give you a clear concept of buying your first batch of crafting tools.
If you still concerned to dive into this habit or not? You may join our leather craft workshop before your make any decision. Our small group leather workshop will provide well-prepared leather pieces with punched stitching holes. Let you enjoy the fun of leather crafting at the lowest risk of failing. Click Here to check the available workshops now.