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Wondering if someone can provide a list of the basic saddlery tools needed for saddlemaking? I am not asking for a raw materials list. Just basic saddlery hand tools that you beleive a beginner will have to have on their bench in order to properly build lets say a plain ruffout or smoothout saddle. If someone could also reccomend a good saddlery tool supply source it will be greatly appreciated.

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At one time I started a list of basic tools one would need for building saddles. I do not know if it is still around on the site or not. If it is not around I will try to start another list.

I would contact J Watt at for some hammers, edgers, ect. Bob Douglas for a stitching awl, he also has a great selection of old tools. Ron's tools also carries a great selection of edgers. I have found that ebay is a great place to find old tools, but I would recommend you know what you are looking for, because sometime they go for more used than new.


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Dusty Johnson's book of saddle making and repair has a very good list of the basic stuff.

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There is a list in Harry Adam's book. Verlane also put out a list. I think that you can get it on the IILG website if you're a member.

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I also found this. It was compiled just after the site crashed and we lost the post's that Denise has linked to.

Home made draw down stand

Homemade stitching horse or saddlers clams

boot knife with good steel for keeping sharp

short pointed boot knife for trimming in tight corners, bleed knots etc

Leather strop or various grit emery boards

compass divider

racer for gouging stitch grooves (can be home made)

roll of hemp thread (can roll any sized thread your heart desires)

round knife or head knife (buy the best you can afford) used to cut/skive and can be used to cut straps if no draw knife/plough guage is available

a few edge tools

wad punches of various sizes

cutting out bench (made to suit your height)

screw driver set (el cheapo hardware bargain bin)

various sized awl blades find wooden things that feel good in the hand to you then tap in the awl blade. The locking hafts are not essential.

Various bones from the butcher (free) to make slickers/burnishers. Throw them outside away from the dogs and the house to let the ants clean out the flesh.

Single creaser/tickler.

broken glass for shaving leather edges smooth

mallet/maul. mallets can be had from the hardware store

shoe hammer (antique/second hand store) you know the old box of tools in the corner from deceased estate actions

nail claw

side cutters/various pliers/multi grips from hardware

slot/crew/bag punches can be done away with by making 2 round punch holes and cutting between (not ideal but at a push can be done)

copper rivets and setter

lump of old railway track (handy anvil) and various lumps of old iron. The bases from old fashioned steel irons are good.

various seat/scratch awls (home made with the grinder and old screw drivers (for drawing up leathers tight


nippers (distract your farrier)

saddlers hammer can be home made with a good handle or strong dowl and then get some steel rod, heat up one end and then flatten. Attach the rod to the wooden handle with a metal band

If you crease strapping then you can cut slots of varius widths into the ends of your knife handles or peices of wood to make creaser grooves

Bees wax

egg eyed needles

dyes/burnishing goops (all home made) eg PVA glue disolved in a jar of warm water or boiling bark to get the tannins out (DO not do this in the kitchen or within 2 days of wife entering the house. The stink will outlast religion.

I'd go surfing ebay and rummage around garage sales. You will be surprised what you can tun into a leather tool with a little imagination.

As said this list is off the top of my head. I could probably cull the list if I was going to make it a BARE BONES list and I would definately add to make life easy. As you can see lots can be scrounged from elsewhere.

Forgot the coffee pot and beer fridge.

don't forget a straight edge/steel rule and sometimes it is handy to have a tape measure attached to the bench (pester the sewing machine mechanic or store for one of those advertising adhesive tapes they stick on sewing machine tables and stick it to the bench

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Okay thanks for the list folks, The tools I am still wondering about are the tools for rubbing in the seat? I dont know what saddlemakers call them? I have seen saddlemakers use old glass doorknobs as somebody mentioned but I have also seen them made of heavy polished metal also very smooth curved wooden sticks about 15" long. Which type is best and do you need just one of these or more than one type? Seems like a pretty important tool so I want to make sure I get the right tools for the job in this area. I want my work to turn as clean as possible.

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These are some of the tools I use for jobs like slicking seats.

The white item on the left is a hard plastic. It is actually a parachute packing stick.

I then have a smooth hardwood rub stick

next is my lignum vitae smasher/masher/bouncer. I have even heard them referred to as a pompey. You can get them in aluminium

Then I have a bone folder which is handy for getting into slick inside a tight radius. In front I have a hardwood burnishing stick. I also have a metal one that I can heat to melt in beeswax.

The bouncer can be substituted with a smooth door knob. Lots of items that are hard and smooth can be utilised. Things like a hardwood dining chair armrest with an approximate curve as a saddle seat can be used if it is smooth and has no abrupt edges. I also use a rolling pin. Not a crap one from the 99 cent store but a decent quality one. Then you could make yourself a glass slicker. Alternatively use plexiglass or lexan. Make sure all edges you use on the leather are smooth and polished.






Edited by barra

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