Are you one of those who are fascinated by art and creativity even when it comes to accessories like jackets and bags? Well, this article will be a joy for you as we are going to talk about the detailed ornamental work on a piece of leather. Not only are we going to explore the types of leather tooling that’s popular in the market but will also provide you with a complete beginners guide on how to get started with leather tooling at home. People might believe that this is a complex process and can only be done using certain types of leather. However, almost any leather can be tooled. If you are new at this and want the best outcomes, the best leather for this purpose is vegetable tanned leather. The vegetable tanning process of the leather makes it a bit softer and easier to temper with. This type of leather comes in subtle shades such as pale brown or white, the leather can be dyed to the desired color without much hassle.
What is Tooling Leather
Tooling leather comes in all sorts of thicknesses and texture, hence you can select the right one depending on your project need. For example, if your subject is a belt, it must be of thicker leather than a knife sheath. The best thing about this is that you can glue the tooling leather together in layers to make even thicker leather if required. This is such a convenient and creative way of getting desired volume of the leather without having to buy new leather altogether.
Techniques Of Tooling Leather
Before tempering with your precious leather item, make sure that you’re dealing with the right kind of leather that is ideal for this purpose. Tooling leather needs to be soft enough to be cut and impressed with stamps and tools, but not flexible or bouncy enough that the stamp impression is erased.
- As mentioned earlier, vegetable tanned leather is best for tooling. Before getting started, the leather needs to be moistened with water to prepare it for the process. Never miss this step because it's super important and missing it can mess things up beyond repair. T
- The process of wetting the leather is known as casing, and it is necessary in order to stamp and shape it easily. Also, it makes the fibers swell and soften.
- Rub the damp sponge on the flesh side and then on the grain side. The leather can be worked only when it is moist. However, don't overuse the water as it can damage the leather in the long run.
- The tooling is performed when the leather begins to return to its natural color after it's been wet for a little while. You can wet the leather again if it completely dries during the tooling procedure.
Tools For Tooling Leather
Tooling leather is pretty common when it comes to ornamental items. This type of leather is quite expensive because of its texture and all the effort that goes into its manufacturing. Tooling leather , nowadays, is commonly used for shoes, bags, belts, saddles, holsters, knife sheaths, clutches and wallets. If you’re a leather enthusiast and like to try your hands on it, you are going to need proper tools alongside the right technique.
- Waxed linen thread, needles, threads, an awl haft and a diamond shaped blade are some of the most common and easily accessible tools that one needs to begin with tooling.
- As far as the awl half is concerned, pick the right size as per your need and make sure that handles come with the flat side as they are great because they won't roll off of your workbench when you put them down.
- This inexpensive NT Cutter knife is absolutely necessary. Pay close attention because some of these blades are not that sturdy and may ruin your leather. So make sure that you don’t start cutting crookedly.
- Stitching Pony is a must as well. The main purpose of this tool is to hold your project for you, so you are free to use both hands for stitching. You don't have to pay a fortune to get your hands on a good stitching pony, a cheaper one would serve the purpose just fine.
- Next is a stitching groove that cuts a groove at a preset distance from the edge of the leather. It leaves a recessed area for your stitches to lay. Hence, the stitches aren't as prone to wear and tear once recessed, and look more professional.
- Overstitch wheel is used to mark the inside of the groove with little divots. These will assist you with the hole using awl. The process ensures evenly spaced, straight stitches and will help you come up with an amazing final product that looks absolutely stunning and professional.
- Bump Jigs are clever little tools designed to meet the needs of professional craftsmen. They have tons of great uses in any workshop as well as a household with leather enthusiasts in it. While using a combination of the two little squares and a stamp, they leave the right amount of room for stitching.
- An edger is used when a square, raw edge, and the sharp portion is required to turn into a smooth rounded edge. They are available in different sizes and shapes as well.
- Using the burnishing tool and applying the right amount of friction and patience, you can get the professional looking edges at the end of the procedure.
- There are a number of more tools that can be helpful in tooling leather but as a beginner, you should try and keep it as minimal as possible.
Advantages/Disadvantages of Tooling Leather
As far as the advantages of tooling leather are concerned, it is ideal for carving shapes into leather and embossing designs into the surface. Not only does it make your leather accessory look super cool and hip but also creates a unique fashion statement. As the tooling leather is vegetable tanned, it will develop a patina with time and is suitable for dyeing as many times as you want.
Coming to the disadvantages, the vegetable tanning process that is used to make tooling leather is slow and takes a lot of effort which makes it super expensive. Another issue with tooling leather is that different hides are used for this purpose which may affect the consistency.