So you want to start working with leather, but you aren’t quite sure what tools to use or where to get them. This guide will tell you all about the tools that are essential in leather working and what you should look for when buying them so that your first projects go smoothly! We’ll cover everything from the tools you need to the best places to get them, as well as recommendations based on price and whether you’re looking for quality or quantity. Let’s jump right in!
1) Staple Remover
A staple remover is a must-have tool for anyone who works with leather. Whether you’re working on an everyday project or doing professional restoration work, a staple remover is an essential part of your toolkit. The most popular style of leather staple remover looks like a pair of pliers. Its jaws are designed to grip a single staple (or nail) and can be opened and closed by squeezing them together or pulling them apart.
2) Needle Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers are versatile pliers used for handling wire and jewelry. These needle nose pliers have flat jaws that allow for use as a chain nose or in-line smooth jaw plier. Both ends of these needle nose jewelry pliers are serrated to better grasp, twist, or turn your materials. If you’re just getting started with leather working tools, it’s a good idea to have a pair of these on hand to make sure you can get even beginners projects done correctly.
3) Round Cutters
They may seem like a regular pair of scissors, but these are specially designed to cut through leather. They’re also made from stainless steel, which makes them incredibly durable. Round cutters have sharp edges that can be used for freehand cutting and trimming; if you want something more precise, though, use rotary cutter blades in conjunction with a self-healing mat.
An awl is a pointed hand tool that’s used to make holes in leather for stitching. Awls come in different sizes, with larger ones being more suited for bigger projects and smaller ones ideal for something like a wallet or card holder. If you’re just starting out making leather goods, it’s best to buy a cheaper (but still strong) model.
A knife is a basic tool for any kind of leather work. A sharp blade will cut cleanly and precisely, while a dull one can tear your material. The best knife for leather work is often called a slicker knife. It has a very thin blade and should be used with care to avoid tearing your material or causing accidents. Because knives are so easy to use, they’re often dangerous when in inexperienced hands—so make sure you find a good cutter before starting out.
6) Corner Chisel
This basic tool can be used to mark wood and leather. It’s a good choice for laying out an entire pattern, including cuts, shapes and patterns. It can be used to mark lines that are 1⁄4 or 1⁄2 wide, depending on which face of it you use.
7) Cutting Board Scraper (i.e. bone folder)
It’s common for leatherworking to use different types of adhesives, including vegetable glues and contact cement. A cutting board scraper is perfect for removing dried glue from surfaces without damaging either your projects or your desk/table. Simply rub it across your project’s surface like you would a pencil eraser, let it sit for a minute to dissolve excess glue, then rub it again to remove any lingering traces of residue.
A mallet or hammer is an indispensable tool for any leatherworking beginner. While you might not think that a hammer can be all that helpful, consider how often your basic hammer is used in everyday life. Think about driving in nails, hanging frames, creating holes for hanging and more. The same principle applies to leatherworking tools; every item listed here has multiple uses that make it valuable to have around when you’re just getting started with working with leather.
9) Sanding Block
Sanding is a key step in almost every piece of leatherwork. Whether you’re stripping off old finish or smoothing out a finished project, sanding blocks and scrapers can help you achieve your goal quickly and easily. All sanding blocks come with instructions on how to use them. An important rule of thumb: start with an 80-grit block, then move up to 120, 220 and so on.
Measuring tape isn’t just for measuring. When used correctly, a ruler can help you make straight cuts in leather that would be difficult with a straightedge alone. A traditional metal-edged ruler will work, but it’s better to use a transparent plastic ruler so you can see your line clearly through it. The holes in most rulers allow you to use an awl or knife to punch guide holes along a cutting line before cutting.