Getting into leather craft means learning a lot about new, cool tools. There are sometimes different tools used for the same job, depending on preference, skill, and sometimes budget. Whatever the project, it is helpful to know what tools are used for and which ones you’ll want to work with.

In this post we’ll check out an overview of the basic leather craft tools list. Beyond this, there are also many variations, and even customizations to tools that can best suit your preference.

Each of these categories could have a post all it’s own, delving into the different types of each tool available along with the pros/cons of each.

 

Anvil

Leather Tool - Anvil
Image from Weaver leather

 

 

These are heavy, metal bases used as a very solid surface for hammering and working material on.

 

Awl

Leather Tool - Awl

Tool with a sharp metal point used for marking or piercing leather. They can be used to impress a small mark such as where belt holes will go, or even dragged across leather to leave a mark such as when tracing pattern templates. Some come fixed with a single point, others allow points to be interchanged. Points include rounded and diamond shaped, where the diamond shape cuts the leather in such a way that it is easier to stitch through, and also leaves a hole in the leather that can sit more flat once punched.

 

Chisels/Pricking Irons

Leather Tool - Pricking Irons
Image from rmleathersupply

 

 

These are used to mark/make holes in leather that can then be used for stitching, or even stylistically for making patterns in leather. Generally, they are for making holes.

 

Creaser

Leather Tool - Creaser
Image from rmleathersupply

 

 

Tool that puts a crease in the edge of leather, often for aesthetic reasons, though can also be used for functional reasons when folding/shaping leather goods.

 

Creaser/Folder

Leather Tool - Bone Creaser

These devices, usually made of bone, can be used to help separate leather pieces (for example if a wallet is sewn tightly using a creaser can help open some of the pockets to get them flexible). Since they are often polished bone, they will be gentles on the leather and leave fewer marks.

 

 

Cutting Boards/Mats

Leather Tool - Cutting Mat

These are materials that often protect both a desktop work surface (from bing cut/marked by knife blades) as well as the blades used to cut on them. If blades are used on a hard surface, it can dull them quickly, which makes cutting more difficult and could leave rough cutting edges on the leather. These cutting boards/mats provide a softer surface for the blade to rest on, which helps preserve the blade edge.

 

Edge Slickers/Burnishers

Leather Tool - Wooden Burnishing Tool

Used to burnish leather edges. They help remove some of the fussiness on edges, producing a smooth, rounded edge that looks great, feels better, and holds up well during use. This can be hand tools used manually, specialized attachments for drills/rotary tools, or specialized machines.

 

 

Edgers

Leather Tool - Edger
Image from rmleathersupply

 

 

Used for shaving off the square edges of leather. For example, the edges of a belt or wallet, where having rounded edges would feel better in the hand and look more visually appealing.

 

 

Gouge

Leather Tool - Gouge
Image from Weaver leather

 

 

These are used to remove leather such as for stitch lines of folding lies. They can have fixed or adjustable depths.

 

 

Hand-Press

Leather Tool - Hand Press
Image from Weaver leather

 

 

A tool used to apply a large amount of force, usually by pulling a lever. These work great for stamping out cuts of leather using pre-made metal dies, riveting, and embossing. The force they apply makes these tasks much easier to do.

 

Knives

Leather Tool - Xacto Knife

These are used for cutting the leather, from making large pieces of leather into smaller pieces, all the way to detailed shaping and carving. Visually every leather project requires a knife. These can be simple utility knifes, modeling knives (such as x-acto), or specialized leather cutting knives that come in many shapes and sizes.

 

Leather Deglazer

Leather Tool - Leather Deglazer

Used to remove leather finishes, waxes, and greases to prepare it for dyeing. This provides a cleaner state of the leather for the days to absorb into.

 

 

Leather Dies

Leather Tool - Leather Die
Image from Weaver Leather

 

These are formed metal shapes with cutting edges, used to press into leather and cut out a specific shape. For example, once a leather crafter designs a new wallet, they might have dies made of each piece so they can quickly press/cut the shapes, instead of doing each one by hand.

 

 

Leather Dye

Leather Tool - Leather Dye

A pigment that gets absorbed by the leather, changing it’s color. Dyes come in all colors imaginable.

 

 

 

Leather Thickness Gauge

Leather Tool - Leather Thickness Gauge
Image from rmleathersupply

Leather comes in different weights and thicknesses. What leather to choose depends on the project in mind; for example, a belt project would use a thicker leather than a small wallet project. Leather thickness gauges are tools to quickly measure the thickness of leather. Some are fixed (made out of wood, plastic, etc.) with thicknesses pre-sized to slide the leather into and measure that way. Others are similar to calipers that can be both analog or digital, and produce a reading of the thickness once it is closed upon the leather.

 

 

Leather Wax

Leather Tool - Leather Cream

This is used to help finish leather pieces. There are many different waxes, such as carnuba for applying to finished pieces, that can be buffed out to a shine. Beeswax can be used when burnishing and finishing edges to give it a smooth and protected edge. There are many waxes available for finishing needs.

 

 

Mallets/Hammers/Mauls

Leather Tool - Nylon Maul

Used for hitting stamps and punches, basically the tools used for hitting things 🙂 Mallets have big round hitting surfaces, hammers smaller hitting surfaces, and mauls rounded hitting surfaces. The hitting surfaces of leather tools can be found in nylon or other soft materials; it will still generate force, while also protecting the tools they are hitting.

 

Needle

Leather Tool - Hand Sewing Needles

Thin metal tool used to pull thread through the leather and sew it together

 

 

Punches

Leather Tool - Hole Punch

Used to make holes in leather. These come in a tremendous array of shapes and sizes. Punches can be used to make holes for stitching, holes for riveting, holes for decoration, trim the edges of belts, cutting leather corners, really anything to do with cutting or holes. There are specialized sets based on the function they will perform, and come in a wide range of qualities and sharpnesses. Usually, the sharper, the better.

 

Rivets/Setters

Leather Tool - Rivet Set

Rivets are small metal fasteners used to connect leather. They can be used purely decoratively as well. Setters are tools used to connect the rivet pieces together, so they bind and form a tight connection. Rivets are very sturdy connecters and work great in leather craft.

 

 

Rotary Cutters/Scissors

Leather Tool - Rotary Cutter

Building on the basic functions of a knife, rotary cutters and scissors are additional tools used to cut leather.

 

 

Rulers/Squares

Leather Tool - Non-Slip Metal Ruler

These are used for measuring and also as edges for cutting against, to ensure the leather cuts are straight and smooth.

 

 

Sewing Machine

Leather Tool - Sewing Machine

Electric-powered machine that enables much faster sewing of material (over hand sewing). For leather work, industrial/commercial machines are preferred, as they have the build quality and power to successfully stitch leather material which is generally thicker than most fabrics.

 

 

Skiver

Leather Tool - Leather Skiver

These tools are used to remove leather. For example on a belt, one end usually folds over to hold the buckle – this would result in the leather being twice as thick there, since it’s folded. This can be bulky, so tools such as skivers are used to remove some thickness from the leather, for example 1/2 of the thickness so when folded over it would be equal to the original thickness. Skivers have all sorts of great uses.

 

Spacing/Overstitch/Pricking Wheel

Leather Tool - Pricking Wheel
Image from rmleathersupply

 

These tools have sharp points on a wheel, useful for marking the spaces where stitches will go in leather, or where holes can be punched. Since they are on a wheel and have set spacings they mark, they can create an indefinitely long line of equally spaced marks. Since they’re round like a wheel, they’re also very easy to push.

 

 

Stamps

Leather Tool - Leather Stamps
Image from rmleathersupply

These are tools for putting impressions/designs into leather. There are nearly infinite types, shapes, and sizes of stamps available, with new ones being made all of the time. For example, if someone wanted to put a triangle design into leather, they could buy a triangle stamp, place it on the leather, hit it with a maul, and the stamp would leave the impression of a triangle in the leather. Stamps can be used for decoration, function, branding, or most anything you can think of.

 

 

Stitching Horse/Pony

Leather Tool - Stitching Pony
Image from rmleathersupply

A device that clamps and holds pieces of leather in place to make it easier to hand-sew. Since it holds things firmly, it frees up the hands of the leather crafter to focus on stitching.

 

 

Stone Slabs

Leather Tools - Tooling Slab
Image from Weaver leather

These are used under punches/cutting boards to help absorb some of the force when hitting a punch with a mallet/hammer. Instead of that force bouncing back from a softer surface (and affecting the precision of the punch), the stone slabs are so dense they help absorb much of that force. Marble can be used, though granite has better strength and density.

 

 

Strap Cutters

Leather Tool - Strap Cutter
Image from rmleathersupply

These are leather specific tools that allow one to cut straight pieces of leather from a larger piece of hide; for example, cutting a belt blank that might be 1.5” wide and 50” long, keeping it perfectly straight.

 

 

 

Stitching Groover

Leather Tool - Stitch Groover

Cuts a small groove towards the edge of leather where stitches can be sewn. Since the stitches sit in a groove, they don’t stick out above the leather which provides a higher quality look/feel, while also protecting the stitches from excessive wear, since they are protected, sitting within a groove.

 

Strop

Leather Tool - Leather Strop
Image from rmleathersupply

 

Piece of leather, sometimes mounted to a board or solid surface, that is used to sharpen knife blades

 

 

Tape Measure

Leather Tool - Tape Measure

These are used to measure all sorts of things

 

 

 

Thread

Leather Tool - Nylon Thread

Fibrous material, frequently nylon in leather craft, used to join leather together when sewing

 

 

Wing Divider/Compass

Leather Tool - Compass-Wing Divider
Image from rmleathersupply

 

 

This tool is usually adjustable and used for marking arcs or circles in leather. A specific size is set and the tool can be moved in a circular motion to mark the leather pieces.

 

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