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Hey friends, I am seeking some advice on how to begin saddle making. There are no saddle shops within my range to learn from, and I just didn't know the best routes to take. Thank you all so much for your help

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1 hour ago, company6leather said:

northeast alabama

Please update your profile to include your location.  This is a worldwide forum, so it has become even more important to identify your location so you can get help and input from people in your area, especially when looking for any one-on-one help.



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I am an amateur maker, largely self taught with major help from this forum and good educational DVD's.  What i suggest below is how I went about it (more or less).  This may not be the best way but I had limited spare time so it was my only option.  Obviously apprenticing under a good maker would be the ultimate educational experience.

Saddle making is a tedious, detail oriented deal - I recommend you try building some basic tack first.  Build a set of chaps, a headstall, maybe some saddle bags.  Try some smaller projects first and see if you enjoy the work.  

Smaller projects will build your confidence, ease you into the world of expensive leather tools, improve your coordination with leather tools and help you to get a feel for when skirting leather is cased 'just right' to tool / mold / cut etc.

From there:  a) look at as many pictures of good custom made saddles online as you can.  Get an idea for what good lines on a rig look like vs/ bad ones (this is somewhat subjective), b)purchase educational DVD's and study thoroughly (Jeremiah Watt & Dale Harwoods DVD's are excellent), c) Buy Al Stolhman's saddle making encyclopedias, d) study as many good saddles as you can in person.  See how they are built. 

Once you have a very clear picture in your mind of all that goes into a saddle you can decide if you want to tackle building one.  From my experience:  Buy a good custom tree, use only the best leather.  Your first saddle will absorb a lot of time - May as well use good material.

Here are some makers I draw inspiration from (there are many others too):

Keith Seidel -

Chuck Stormes -

Freckers Saddlery -

Steve Mason -

Chavez -

Scott Brown -

Ron L

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Hey Company6!

I agree with Ron on his advice to purchase DVD's and I especially agree with the order he recommends Jeremiah Watt and then Dale Harwood.  Watt's video is fantastic and very detailed step-by-step with excellent camera work.  Harwood is probably the dean of Western saddle builders, but I found that his video assumed some knowledge on the viewer's part that a beginner may not have.

I would also strongly recommend repairing as many saddles as you can get your hands on.  Seeing how they failed is an invaluable lesson in keeping yours from failing. 


Hope this helps and that you have a successful build.



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This sight can help   it has some really good info talking about saddle tree fit and rigging position.

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