Sheilajeanne

Cutting Leather - Getting nice round corners

27 posts in this topic

I've reached the point where I'm now trying to cut my own projects, rather than relying on kits. 

I decided the Tandy cellphone kit I bought needed a window in it, so I could answer the phone without taking it out of the case. This means cutting an inside corner, and making that darn box knife do a nice corner is REALLY REALLY hard!

My first efforts at a window were so bad, I decided to do the project over completely, and started fresh with a new piece of leather. Cutting the pattern out didn't go too badly, but doing the window in the case is causing me problems.

I've tried several different thing - using a sheep's foot jacknife blade, and using a box cutter with a smaller blade. Neither one has worked very well.  On the one corner, I cut into the good leather a small distance, and on another, multiple cuts wound up producing a very fuzzy, ugly corner.

I also managed to cut one side of the window slightly narrower than the other. I am fixing this by using a beveler on both sides of the leather, then sanding. It's too small a difference (about 2 mm.) to be able to cut it with a knife. I've almost got that mistake fixed... :D

Anyway, looking for some suggestions to make things easier, and and get a cleaner cut. In this case, since I'm cutting a window in leather that's part of the project, there's NO room for mistakes!  I do have a Tandy plastic corner pattern, which was a big help in showing me where I need to cut, and getting all 4 corners looking the same.

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Shielajeanne, . . . find a friend who is an electrical contractor, . . . tell him / her you need several short pieces of 1/2 and 3/4 inch EMT, ElectoMetallicTubing, . . . or conduit as it is commonly known. 

Cut them about 6 or 7 inches long.

Here comes the fun, . . . very gently, . . . very slowly, . . . take your time, . . . be very deliberate, . . . and keep a pan of water close by to dip it in every 4 or 5 seconds.

Take a couple of those pieces to a disc or belt sander with something between 120 and 200 grit sand paper on it.  Bevel the edge all away around at about a 60 degree angle, . . . be careful not to burn the steel, . . . go slow and keep dipping it.  GET IT SHARP, by grinding until you have a really good edge on it.

Next take a hack saw and come up about 1 inch, . . . cut the tube about half way through, . . . make the final cut starting on your sharpened edge, . . . going down to where you made your cross cut.  You wind up with a tool that will cut a beautiful half circle with some light tapping of a mallet.  Dampen your leather first, . . . they go through like hot butter.

For your window you want to cut (inside corners) you cut away half of the half circle, . . . leaving only a 1/4 circle, . . . and again they work wonderfully.

The below pictures show some of the ones I have made, . . . and use on pretty much a daily basis.

The top left hand corner is a 3/4 inch tool for cutting really nice rounded ends on 3/4 inch straps.  Clockwise from it is a 1/2 inch hole puncher and all the way on the right hand side is the 3/4 inch hole puncher.

The bottom left tool makes beautiful half round cuts, 3/4 inch size, . . . the lower right tool makes your corner cuts, . . . it's also 3/4 inch in size.

May God bless,

Dwight

leather working tools.JPG

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Afraid that's not going to work for me. I don't have access to a belt sander. I have to do all my sanding by hand. 

Must be another way of doing it...

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Ent is not very hard steel. You could do it by hand.

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If you have a hole punch about the diameter of the corner, you can just punch a hole in each corner, then connect the corners with straight cuts.

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I used to cut them out by hand, but now have corner stamps. In attachment some rounded stamps from Amazon and a corner stamp from Zelikovitz Leather's out of Toronto. The Actual corner stamp is >90 degrees and works very well.

stamps.jpg

Edited by Bonecross

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I knew there had to be a tool I could buy somewhere! I'm very close to Toronto, too!

Thank you!

Edit: can't find the corner cutting tool. It looks like they no longer stock it. :(

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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If you have a fixed size window you need to cut out, I'd just order a die made.  One "stamp" and the whole window is cut out.. done.  With a little planning, you could probably make it so the cut out piece can also be used as-is.

 

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Thanks, Bonecross! What category were they hiding it under? :)

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Hi Sheilajeanne -

Ian Atkinson in England does videos about leatherworking..... while watching him on youTube I saw him using a round corner cutter by WindFire Designs, called the Circle Tool.  It works really well, is metal and not too expensive.  You can find them on Line.  I got the smaller one for $30 and use it all of the time!!!

 

Blackgoldwoman

Windfire Circle Tool.png

Edited by Demetra Gayle
To add a Photo and the Price

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18 hours ago, Sheilajeanne said:

Thanks, Bonecross! What category were they hiding it under? :)

I searched for "corner" in their search box ;)

Oh and that circle tool is neat Demetra Gayle - just ordered one! I have plastic circle tools which work great when drawing out a pattern, but this is perfect for direct cutting.

Edited by Bonecross

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That is cool.  And they're only a couple of hours from me.  Wouldn't save on shipping to be sure, but cool to know.

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Another alternative is to use a round knife.  It might be a little difficult at first, but I bought mine specifically for this reason.  Tight curves.  Plus its handy to have in the shop.  That being said, the round hole plus connecting the dots is probably the easiest way to go about it short of custom dies.

 

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14 hours ago, Demetra Gayle said:

Hi Sheilajeanne -

Ian Atkinson in England does videos about leatherworking..... while watching him on youTube I saw him using a round corner cutter by WindFire Designs, called the Circle Tool.  It works really well, is metal and not too expensive.  You can find them on Line.  I got the smaller one for $30 and use it all of the time!!!

 

Blackgoldwoman

Windfire Circle Tool.png

I have the smaller set of these and they are a god send to be honest work really well and its hard steel so you cant screw things up!!

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I got something like this on ebay .. I admittedly went cheap and had to clean up the set some but they really upped my game and made all my corners inside and out look great since getting them and have saved a ton of time. I will never go back to cutting them out with a razor or knife. I have now been using the set for about 2 years and am very satisfied.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=Leather+Craft+Belt+Strap+Wallet+Bag+End+Arc-shaped+Punch+Leather+Handwork+5+Size&_id=121171114229&&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2658

I think I paid about 10 bucks for mine and am not sure you get a better polish on ones costing more. If you get them I would assume you will have to spend some time polishing. they are not pretty but mine work great and I use them several times a week.

 

 

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Sheilajeanne,

I Found a  local art/model shop that cuts acrylic and got them to cut me a load of circles as in the photo. Because they are concentric circles they ll fitted on one A4 sheet so it wasn't too expensive

 

IMG_0331.JPG

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Because of this thread, I realized that I had an entire set of cheap chisel and lathe tools from Harbor Freight in my shed!  One of them cuts an absolutely beautiful corner. 

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I find that the secret to cutting precise lines, curved or otherwise, in hide is to maintain accuracy.  Many when starting out, I know I did this, try to overcome the strength of the hide by cutting with ever greater pressure . . and it takes but a nano-second to make a slip and that's the piece ruined.  Over time I studied how I could overcome this potential foul up and now this is my approach.

Good hide has one huge advantage, it's easy to make a mark in it's surface and that can then be used to replicate further marks or cuts.  So I use a slightly dulled (rounded point) awl that I'm comfortable holding as if it were a pen and draw an indented line using light pressure, then I follow this with a swivel knife fitted with a sharpened blade, finally when I have a groove deep enough that a blade tracks accurately I'll use a scalpel - not a craft knife version - a one piece stainless steel knife with a well honed edge.  It's delicate point means I can easily follow previous lines.

Readers will note that these techniques are little different to many used in heavily tooling veg-tan hide . . but I think that many leather-workers who haven't progressed to that work - and many aren't interested beyond stamping using commercial tools - aren't that aware of how these tools can be also put to use making accurate cuts in hide.

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Something I learned from Nigel Armitage last year.  The yellow page was done quickly, but the process is simple.  The more straight lines you cut, the smoother and rounder your circle or rounded edge will become.  I use heavy washers as seen in the photo.  Enough weight to keep it from moving, then drawing the knife in straight lines using the washer as a guide, my edges are round and smooth.

20170116_161600.jpg

20170116_161635.jpg

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On 1/10/2017 at 7:27 PM, Sheilajeanne said:

I knew there had to be a tool I could buy somewhere! I'm very close to Toronto, too!

Thank you!

Edit: can't find the corner cutting tool. It looks like they no longer stock it. :(

Check out Capital Findings. And if you need EMT, let me know. ENT is plastic btw. Lol

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55 minutes ago, TheModifier said:

Check out Capital Findings. And if you need EMT, let me know. ENT is plastic btw. Lol

EMT, yes. Stupid spell correct Dr.....correcter

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On 1/16/2017 at 7:27 PM, bikermutt07 said:

EMT, yes. Stupid spell correct Dr.....correcter

It happens more than I care to admit. lol.

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I thought about this a bit, and then it occurred to me to use a round chisel.  I'd bought a box of chisels a few years ago from Harbor Freight for cheap.  The round chisel made a purnt-near perfect corner with just slight pressure.

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