TinkerTailor

Tinkering To Save Cash...aka....keeping The Tool Budget Down

Recommended Posts

Cash on tools=cash gone. Cash on leather=more finished product, thus more cash.....

Tools and supplies cost money. Smart buying can ensure that it costs as little as possible. Maintenence of existing tools and making/modifying tools to do the job are other ways to save some money. Due to marketing, at times certain items are re-labeled and marked up significantly because the new 'product' is for a specialized market. While industry specific suppliers are the lifeblood of every industry, and sell the things you can't get anywhere else, do your research. Here are some examples of obvious remarketing:

Leather website "T" sells blue nitrile gloves in a six pack for $5.00 cad. Walmart sells 100 for $11.00 cad. "T" has the gloves marked up 650% over regular retail

Beeswax is sold for $6.30/oz block at "T". At the craft store, it is $12/lb or $0.75/oz........750% markup over regular retail.

Tool sharpening skills are a huge cash saver.

Osbourne arch punched are awesome, allow you to see down inside, and will last forever, and generally are a good investment if you can afford it. They are not the only option however.

In Canada, hollow punch sets at discount automotive parts stores are 15-30 dollars for a 12 punch set, 1/8 to 3/4. They are carbon steel, hardened but poorly machined, and dull.

A set of diamond needle files is about the same price, and I managed to sharpen all of the punches in 3 episodes of the simpsons...For 40 bux and a little time, I have a set of large hole punches sharp enough to push through most garment and thin veg tan by hand, that is just pushing it and twisting. No hammer. I have also used the 3/4 to do a series of holes in 16+ ounce hot wet-formed veg tan (hard as nails...) with a 3lb maul, it will do it in 1 hit.

If you take an old 1 inch spade woodworking bit, cut off the point and use a hack saw to cut slots, a stitching chisel is pretty easy to make. Fine tune it with those diamond files and hone the edge with some emery paper on a piece of glass.

In this thread I would love to see a discussion about ways you have found to save a little here and there on tools and supplies. I am going to post a few updates here and there of other tips and tricks for the thrifty tinker. If you do want to post, please keep it on topic and try to refer to existing tutorials with links. This both helps to make them easy to find, as well as prevents this thread from having unnecessarily long posts reciting existing tutorials. Also, no trashing companies. Its ok to post their prices, please avoid the rants on your opinion of their pricing practices. Lets be civil.

OK GO.....

Edited by TinkerTailor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started out I made an impromptu pricking iron from a fork and an awl from an old small torx bit..... They were terrible but I couldn't afford actual tools and they got my started. I still use that awl now for corners.

Keep your utility knife blade stropped, they last twice as long.

The Tandy poly mallets are very expensive for what they are, just ebay plastic mallet and you will have a good choice.

The biggest money saving tip I think I can give is choose your leather wisely.... I have a draw full of leather I have no use for because I didn't know what I was buying... Experience is a strict teacher.

Also this is a great topic, I look forward to everyone's responses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of my leather that was chosen long ago and was crappy, I have found a use for. I can do key fobs, necklaces etc. You will always find a use for leather, bad or good.

I never throw small pieces of leather away, you will find a use for them if you think hard enough. When I moved for awhile I couldn't find my old rawhide or poly mallets for a bit, I used a hammer, you just have to be careful.

There are certain name brand items that cost a fortune. I have never found a need to spend that much money on something I can make with something less expensive.

The one thing I will spend big bucks on is my leather. However, if I can get it less expensive and just as good quality I do.

Yes, I like the best but if it is only high and price and I pay for a name I would rather purchase tools that I can get for a reasonable price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good thread, I don't have much to add right now other than there are some very smrt. I mean smart folks on here

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a tip. If you want your beeswax in nice 1oz blocks, pour the heated wax into an ice cube tray. You'll need to pour twice though; the wax shrinks as it cools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really must learn how to use my digital camera & post pictures, but I hope you will get the ideas from my written descriptions.

This first one isn't really home-made, but I have a dedicated leather cutting knife. There is an old Stanley craft/utility/box cutter knife that has a smooth handle, which tapers slightly from the hole end down towards the blade - Stanley 199A. I got one from a car boot sale for £1, including a few old rusty blades inside it.

I find it very comfortable. I fettled it with a file & abrasive paper to make sure the blades fitted well, and that the two halves were truly flat where they met, and generally cleaned it up & sprayed it with some car touch up paint.

I picked out a few blades that fit well without wobbling, and resharpen them as needed. I use it exclusively for cutting leather. The old blades polished up well, and are very good when resharpened.

I made a flat burnisher & edge slicker from pictures on the Net. The wood was an old broken axe haft, beech, I think

Got an old rusty & battered putty knife for 50p. Cleaned it up, cut the end off the blade at an angle with a hacksaw & sharpened it with files, oilstones and on the strop. The blade edge is very sharp, and that is my skiving knife. The putty knife has a good forged steel blade and what I think is a rosewood handle with a brass bolster & pins.

I made two scratch awls. One is an old dart head, the other is some steel rod which came from an old magazine binder; the steel is quite hard. I cut it to length and sharpened one end with files & oilstone. The handles were an old file handle, and an old vegetable peeler.

Made a strop from a scrap of wood and some split leather I picked up in a job lot. The sharpening compound is Autosol, the car chrome polish.

Made a sewing pony from scraps of wood; this & pony were old skirting boards I think, and other odds & ends. I didn't use a bolt to hold the halves together, I used several turns of 1/2" (12.5 mm) elastic salvaged from an old pair of waterproof overtrousers, like a big rubber band. Not exactly a shining example of the cabinet maker's art, but it does the job.

For skiving and staining I use the glass oven door off an old cooker with a bit of rubber anti slip mat. I don't do tooling, if I did I'd have to get something stronger

My straight edge is an old 18" steel ruler from a car boot sale for 25p. Rusty, I cleaned it up and tidied the edges on a sheet of abrasive paper on the glass door. I doubt if it is up to engineering standards, but it's good enough for cutting leather.

Somewhere along the way I acquired a cheap & nasty block plane; pressed body & plastic fittings. I don't like it, and I can't ever remember using it. But the blade, or 'iron' is quite good. So I'll scrap the body and sometime soon I'll turn the blade into a skiving knife or a Japanese style leather knife.

There is, though, something to consider about improvising your own tools. For years I have made model planes, done house repairs & decorating, and car mechanics. That means I have accumulated a fair selection of tools, and am reasonably familiar & confident in their use. To make these leather tools I used files, oilstones, a vice, hacksaw and so on that I already had.

If you had to start completely from scratch that would obviously add to the cost, and you might be better off buying proper leather tools in the first place

Ever heard the phrase 'the converse is true?'. You can use leather tools for other things - I have been reliably informed by a professional saddler that a round knife is just about the best thing ever for cutting pizzas.

Edited by zuludog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took a slot screwdriver, bent it, ground it with a dremel chainsaw sharpening stone, polished it with emery and wrapped the ugly handle. Now I have a tool I use for edge beveling, stitch line creasing and wet modelling including a pretty cool edge treatment I get when I heat the tool. I also use it as a thread cutter when sewing.

post-60185-0-54072400-1431956069_thumb.j

post-60185-0-43457800-1431956071_thumb.j

post-60185-0-53448600-1431956073_thumb.j

post-60185-0-17839600-1431956075_thumb.j

post-60185-0-21590700-1431956077_thumb.j

post-60185-0-98805100-1431956078_thumb.j

post-60185-0-56478500-1431956066_thumb.j

post-60185-0-65662100-1431956457_thumb.j

It also works to score orange peels to make then easy to peal. The citris removes gunk. one wipe and its clean........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am still pretty new to the whole leather work stuff, but one the best cheap homemade tools I came up with was buying a set of semi-cheap wood chisels. The set has chisels from 1/2" to 1-1/2". I sharpened them on a a rough and fine diamond stones then polished on an Arkansas stone, then hit it on my strop. They make great cutting tool for cutting out slots for stuff like belt slots on holsters, just punch two holes and use them to connect the holes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am still pretty new to the whole leather work stuff, but one the best cheap homemade tools I came up with was buying a set of semi-cheap wood chisels. The set has chisels from 1/2" to 1-1/2". I sharpened them on a a rough and fine diamond stones then polished on an Arkansas stone, then hit it on my strop. They make great cutting tool for cutting out slots for stuff like belt slots on holsters, just punch two holes and use them to connect the holes.

Wood gouges work for rounding corners off.The student wood carving sets have a surprising number of uses. I have a pretty good supply close by of old bicycles, and i use the tubing to make punches. I squash it in a vise to make slot punches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tandy sells Eco-flo for burnishing your edges. Eco-flo is gum tragacanth,watered down, save yourself some money and go to a bakery supply store or spice store,or even a middle eastern market. Ask for powdered astragalus root,which is the same exact thing,It comes in powdered and whole root form. Super cheap,Bakers use it to make fondants and it is so much cheaper buying it this way.It is also sold as a paste. But I prefer the powder version. All you have to do is scoop up a little powder,add it to a jar and add water. Put the lid on and shake to mix. Add a little more Trag. To get the consistency just right.Now you can have yourself a fresh supply on hand when you need to burnish your veg tan edges. And your saving money and time in the long run. Plus if your heading into flu and cold season,make yourself some soup and add a little astragalus root to the recipe,it helps builds up your immune system.so you don't get sick.I learned that from a Herbalist. That's got me to thinking and Now I'm wondering what would the effect be to use a thick piece of the actual astragalus root to do the burnishing. Hmmm.

By the way this is one of The BEST THREADS YET! Thanks to all of you.Like they say " Necessity is the mother of invention ".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have my eyes open all the time, and troll thrift stores. I have a couple close by so i do a quick route while walking my dog once a week or so. Couple months ago I found a cast iron treadle scrollsaw for a dollar. Cleaned off all the caked on oil and sawdust. Now i can put it up on ant treadle table, connect a belt and go to town cutting slots or scroll work in thin wood or sheetmetal. Its very similar to this one:

m_PnN_VcYvWU_S5KWpPScqQ.jpg

This week i was looking inside (what looked like)an empty tool box and found a handful of tool steel drill rods of various short lengths and diameters. 50 cents for the lot. They are hard......and hold an edge. There are hardening marked on one so it is hardenable, whatever kind of steel it is it is good for tools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/19/2015 at 7:01 PM, suznu said:

Tandy sells Eco-flo for burnishing your edges. Eco-flo is gum tragacanth,watered down, save yourself some money and go to a bakery supply store or spice store,or even a middle eastern market. Ask for powdered astragalus root,which is the same exact thing,It comes in powdered and whole root form. Super cheap,Bakers use it to make fondants and it is so much cheaper buying it this way.It is also sold as a paste. But I prefer the powder version. All you have to do is scoop up a little powder,add it to a jar and add water. Put the lid on and shake to mix. Add a little more Trag. To get the consistency just right.Now you can have yourself a fresh supply on hand when you need to burnish your veg tan edges. And your saving money and time in the long run. Plus if your heading into flu and cold season,make yourself some soup and add a little astragalus root to the recipe,it helps builds up your immune system.so you don't get sick.I learned that from a Herbalist. That's got me to thinking and Now I'm wondering what would the effect be to use a thick piece of the actual astragalus root to do the burnishing. Hmmm.

By the way this is one of The BEST THREADS YET! Thanks to all of you.Like they say " Necessity is the mother of invention ".

 

Thank you for this. I bought a kilo of the powdered stuff from China, and I think it will outlast my useful life!

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dont forget Harbor Freight for cheap punches,  and even cheaper nitrile gloves -- usually 5.99 or 7.00 for a 100, and on sale all the time! Know someone with a lathe? Edge Burnishers are a breeze to make, show up with some dry tree branches for them and stand back as the shavings fly!  Know some Amish or Mennonites? I got about 3 or 4 pounds of beeswax for 7 bucks -- needed remelting and cleaning but so what? Dont forget yogurt cups for dyes and finishes.Dollar Tree is another place for cheap and useful supplies!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm afraid I ascribe to the "Time is money" school of leatherwork. To that end I only purchase top quality drum dyed leathers, the best machinery and tools I can afford, and disposable blades wherever possible. Obviously different for hobbyists where you can sell your time for a few bucks an hour. My challenge is to make lined, wet formed and stitched cases in batches of 25 that are priced wholesale and that my customer and I can make a profit on a good quality product.

Of course, there are times when one does feel ripped off. Like "acrylic leather paints" than can be purchased at $.50 a bottle at a hobby shop. I like the gum tragacanth tip and purchase some tools at Harbor Freight, when quality is not mission critical.

Another factor is that investments in quality tools and materials are written off at tax time.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/19/2015 at 4:01 AM, suznu said:

Tandy sells Eco-flo for burnishing your edges. Eco-flo is gum tragacanth,watered down, save yourself some money and go to a bakery supply store or spice store,or even a middle eastern market. Ask for powdered astragalus root,which is the same exact thing,It comes in powdered and whole root form. Super cheap,Bakers use it to make fondants and it is so much cheaper buying it this way.It is also sold as a paste. But I prefer the powder version. All you have to do is scoop up a little powder,add it to a jar and add water. Put the lid on and shake to mix. Add a little more Trag. To get the consistency just right.Now you can have yourself a fresh supply on hand when you need to burnish your veg tan edges. And your saving money and time in the long run. Plus if your heading into flu and cold season,make yourself some soup and add a little astragalus root to the recipe,it helps builds up your immune system.so you don't get sick.I learned that from a Herbalist. That's got me to thinking and Now I'm wondering what would the effect be to use a thick piece of the actual astragalus root to do the burnishing. Hmmm.

By the way this is one of The BEST THREADS YET! Thanks to all of you.Like they say " Necessity is the mother of invention ".

I have been doing some research since this thread started unravelling, looking into alternatives for Gum Tragacanth. First off astragulus is NOT GT with a different name. Totally unrelated and is an herb made from a root, not a sap like GT. It may appear to have the same properties but is no way related. There is a huge Asian supermarket near me and I was able to find Katri Gum (Sterculia Urens), the Hindi name for GT in the Indian section. 100 g was around $4 and had a few dozen small chunks of GT. 1 chunk in 4 oz of wter left overnight produced a container of gel ready for application.

I did a little more research and checked on the Material Safety Data Sheet for bothe Tandy and Feibings GT offering, which I have been using for years. SURPRISE! It's not Gum Tragacanth but Xanthan Gum. Maybe it was GT once upon a time but not anymore. Seems Xanthan gum, easily produced in a factory, has become an inexpensive substitute Gum Tragacanth. My guess is that in both the Tandy and Feibings offerings, the bottle costs more than the ingredients.

I am going to use the real thing on my next project and see if there is any discernible difference. 

I also tested Gum Arabica and Agar Agar, and neither seems suitable as a replacement edge dressing.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let us know!  Had no idea we were being hoodwinked.

YinTx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Xanthan gum is around $10 for 16oz, real Gum Tragacanth is around $20 for 16 oz. Some bean counter at Feibings figured we are all stupid and wouldn't know the difference. Of course we all buy Coca Cola but the coca has been gone for a long time!

Xanthan is a byproduct of black rot introduced to typically GMO soybean or corn and then extracted. Gum Tragacanth is the sap of various sub species of a bush harvested a bit like opium and is mainly sourced from Iran.

Of course the leather doesn't care about GMO since that probably all it ate.

 

Bob

 

Edited by BDAZ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting for sure. Can you post a link to MSDS data?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is the MSDS:

http://www.weaverleathersupply.com/docs/default-source/sds/Weaver-Gum-Tragacanth-50-2075.pdf?sfvrsn=2'

And here is what the MSDS SHOULD look like:

http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927628

Bob

On 5/19/2015 at 4:01 AM, suznu said:

Tandy sells Eco-flo for burnishing your edges. Eco-flo is gum tragacanth,watered down, save yourself some money and go to a bakery supply store or spice store,or even a middle eastern market. Ask for powdered astragalus root,which is the same exact thing,It comes in powdered and whole root form. Super cheap,Bakers use it to make fondants and it is so much cheaper buying it this way.It is also sold as a paste. But I prefer the powder version. All you have to do is scoop up a little powder,add it to a jar and add water. Put the lid on and shake to mix. Add a little more Trag. To get the consistency just right.Now you can have yourself a fresh supply on hand when you need to burnish your veg tan edges. And your saving money and time in the long run. Plus if your heading into flu and cold season,make yourself some soup and add a little astragalus root to the recipe,it helps builds up your immune system.so you don't get sick.I learned that from a Herbalist. That's got me to thinking and Now I'm wondering what would the effect be to use a thick piece of the actual astragalus root to do the burnishing. Hmmm.

By the way this is one of The BEST THREADS YET! Thanks to all of you.Like they say " Necessity is the mother of invention ".

I have been doing some research since this thread started unravelling, looking into alternatives for Gum Tragacanth. First off astragulus is NOT GT with a different name. Totally unrelated and is an herb made from a root, not a sap like GT. It may appear to have the same properties but is no way related. There is a huge Asian supermarket near me and I was able to find Katri Gum (Sterculia Urens), the Hindi name for GT in the Indian section. 100 g was around $4 and had a few dozen small chunks of GT. 1 chunk in 4 oz of wter left overnight produced a container of gel ready for application.

I did a little more research and checked on the Material Safety Data Sheet for bothe Tandy and Feibings GT offering, which I have been using for years. SURPRISE! It's not Gum Tragacanth but Xanthan Gum. Maybe it was GT once upon a time but not anymore. Seems Xanthan gum, easily produced in a factory, has become an inexpensive substitute Gum Tragacanth. My guess is that in both the Tandy and Feibings offerings, the bottle costs more than the ingredients.

I am going to use the real thing on my next project and see if there is any discernible difference. 

I also tested Gum Arabica and Agar Agar, and neither seems suitable as a replacement edge dressing.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My latest addition was a slab of beautiful marble (?), for the princely sum of $20. Stopped by a local granite / marble countertop place, and they stack cutouts and smaller pieces outside. A quick cash transaction later (which I’m sure made it into the books :whistle:), and hubby and I took it home. Probably could have got some of the smaller / less evenly cut pieces for free, but what can I say, I’m fussy :)

E9A191B7-1177-4016-B277-245EA3936B19.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, motocouture said:

My latest addition was a slab of beautiful marble (?), for the princely sum of $20. Stopped by a local granite / marble countertop place, and they stack cutouts and smaller pieces outside. A quick cash transaction later (which I’m sure made it into the books :whistle:), and hubby and I took it home. Probably could have got some of the smaller / less evenly cut pieces for free, but what can I say, I’m fussy :)

 

I do the same with my local granite counter top guys. They let me pick through their scrap box. I made a belt for the manager to replace the one which was almost won through. I reinforced  the segment where he carries his tape. I now have the run of the scrap box (many pieces even larger than yours), some squared and others with broken ends.

I tend to destroy granite with my 12 ton press when I get too enthusiastic. It shatters or splits. I have switched to Quartz, which is supposed to be harder and denser than granite.

I recently bought an inexpensive tile saw at Harbor Freight to square of the ends. It cuts through granite and quartz like butter. Cost around $20 with a coupon, plus the blade.

Image result for harbor freight tile cutter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, BDAZ said:

I do the same with my local granite counter top guys. They let me pick through their scrap box. I made a belt for the manager to replace the one which was almost won through. I reinforced  the segment where he carries his tape. I now have the run of the scrap box (many pieces even larger than yours), some squared and others with broken ends.

I tend to destroy granite with my 12 ton press when I get too enthusiastic. It shatters or splits. I have switched to Quartz, which is supposed to be harder and denser than granite.

I recently bought an inexpensive tile saw at Harbor Freight to square of the ends. It cuts through granite and quartz like butter. Cost around $20 with a coupon, plus the blade.

Image result for harbor freight tile cutter

Sounds like that was a great trade! Love the idea of the tile saw, though I don’t have a 12 ton press, so I think my slab should be safe for a while :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, BDAZ said:

I recently bought an inexpensive tile saw at Harbor Freight to square of the ends. It cuts through granite and quartz like butter. Cost around $20 with a coupon, plus the blade.

 

So the saw was $20, plus the cost of the blade?  Is it normally used with flowing water, or just cut the granite dry?  Does it make a cloud of dust?  Been wondering, as I have a pile of granite I want to do things with, but don't want to deal with fogging out the neighbors with a massive cloud of stone dust.  Also looking for decent ways to round the edges, same issue.

On 5/17/2018 at 6:21 PM, BDAZ said:

Asian supermarket near me and I was able to find Katri Gum (Sterculia Urens), the Hindi name for GT in the Indian section.

I'm going to have to look for this!  Thanks for the pointer.

YinTx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, YinTx said:

So the saw was $20, plus the cost of the blade?  Is it normally used with flowing water, or just cut the granite dry?  Does it make a cloud of dust?  Been wondering, as I have a pile of granite I want to do things with, but don't want to deal with fogging out the neighbors with a massive cloud of stone dust.  Also looking for decent ways to round the edges, same issue.

I'm going to have to look for this!  Thanks for the pointer.

YinTx

The wet dry diamond blade as in the photograph was $12 but a dry only was $6. I bought the wet/dry and splashed on water so there was little dust. I used a squeeze bottle. Still pretty messy but I suspect I can throw in a 4" angle grinder metal blade and use it for cutting bar steel I use in the press.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like I have a money saver to include. I have been making leather bracelets that are 1 1/8" wide. As I looked on line for strap end punches I was surprised to find that it would cost me $50 or more for one.

I remembered that we have a washer punch at work that is made out of 2 hole saw blades with the teeth ground off and sharpened.. I thought I would try this idea to make a punch and see how it would cut. I ground off the teeth and ground half the diameter up about 3/8" then sharpened it and it gives me a beautiful smooth round end to my strap. Being these bits are made of pretty decent steel it should last a long time. It cost me $10 for the cup saw but if you have one laying around it would be practically free. Good luck all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now