Tomkin

Looking for carving/tooling leather...

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Hello everyone, 

I'm a relatively new leather work enthusiast who has made a few projects and has progressed a bit with various skills. What I want to try now is carving/tooling (using swivel knife/beveler/pear shader, etc...).The thing I'm having trouble finding is veg tan cowhide tooling leather. I've tried carving on some high quality veg tan I got from jwoodleathers but the carving just doesn't take... My swivel knives are sharp and my moisture content is good (having researched and practiced a bit on past projects).

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to get veg tan leather than can be tooled?

To me, it seems the leather I got is either coated (with wax or polymer) or is ironed to create a smoother surface. Obviously I cannot be sure but when I go to carve, the line edges drag so much (my swivel knife is super sharp, stropped and polished...). The curves ruffle up and even spiral up on the tighter ones off the leather itself. Please see the photo. The tooling impressions don't leave a nice burnished effect either, more so a pale and cracked finish... every video I watch on youtube has even 'U' like lines that hold their form and carve through the leather like butter. It's a richer shade of brown and looks maybe like oak tanned leather? Is this tooling leather over the pinker veg tan that is being sold in the UK...?

My experience so far has been anything from a pleasure. Even when I take my time, the leather itself just doesn't respond to the cuts or impressions... so I just knocked this carving up as an example (as horrific as it looks, it's purely to demonstrate my points...!). 

What has thrown me also is that when I bought this leather it what described, and even assured, as "carving/tooling" leather... if anything, it only holds embossing and that's it.  

So, yeah... any help or suggestions appreciated. Totally at a loss where to go now. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Tom.

 

Pic 1.jpg

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I am far from a proficient as some of the folks who post here but I will take a stab at helping you.  For the purple marks it looks like your pear shader is working fine and the leather is good, you just need to work on the placement and varying your striking intensity, you can kind of "walk" the shader around varying how hard you hit it to create the inside of the petals.  The leather dragging on the cuts looks to me to be a water content of the leather issue, seems like when I try to carve with the leather to wet I get those marks.  Also on your beveling I would slow down and be more precise with the placement of the tool, I tend to try to overlap some and that takes out the "chatter" look you are getting.  Again I am no expert just passing on what I have learned, mostly the hard way.

Todd

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I think you are making big divots with your stamps rather than just a impression, maybe ease up on the mallet, but then i am probably just as bad so not the best to ask for help

I brought some cheap practice veg tan from jwoods and found a covering of neaneatsfoot oil gave it more body and a better leather

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Hi guys, 

Thanks for the help but I know all this. I intentionally whacked the pear shader in as walking was not creating the smooth running effect you speak of (you can clearly see the first example next to the red arrow). As I said, this was a rushed piece to show how the leather just doesn't respond well to carving, or tooling like you would see in some videos on youtube, etc... Same idea with the beveler. It's almost impossible to create an even, blended effect as the leather surface doesn't receive the tooling well enough. 

Hopefully someone will reply who will know a bit more about where to get tooling leather. 

Thanks again, 

Tom. 

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It does seem like this is a water content problem, not the leather. I've been doing some tooling on just cheap tandy craftsman oak and been just fine. The beveling problem you have I've experienced and thats just a matter of making sure the leather is not too wet and that the beveler is going directly into the cut. It seems to be a little bit off the cut causing the ridge there. It also seems to be a bit muddy and dragging. If you allow the leather to dry a bit more the burnished effect will come through more clearly as well as not having the impressions be so defined. The beveling will flow. The swivel cuts dragging and closing is another example of the leather being too wet. 

Take this into consideration, but if you really think it is just a problem with the leather Herman oak makes some of the best oak tanned tooling leather in the united states. You can get it from a retail seller such as springfield leather company. They only sell up to B grade but thats only determined by bites and imperfections, all the leather goes through the exact same process. Best of luck!

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Herman Oak. Excellent. I'll have a look. Do you have any of your work I could view as an example? 

See, I've experimented with moisture content and I was sure I had it down to a t... but obviously not. Any further advice on this? 

Is there a difference between the veg tan leather we get in the UK and the states oak tanned leather then? Could you expand on this? Information is very sparce on this subject. 

Thanks again (was just the reply I was looking for). 

Tom. 

 

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Give this a read some very good tips from some very talented carvers

 

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