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Post #1: An anxious waiting game called "Count The Cost"



By the end of the week I am expecting to receive the following in the post:

  • A cheap (Chinese made, with probable Japanese influence) beginner's sett of leather working tools from Ebay
  • A remnant/pieces pack of leather, needles, and thread from The Identity Store
  • A copy of "The Leatherworking Handbook" by Valerie Michael from Amazon

Yet to acquire from the local chain DIY store (probably nearer the time, or on Sunday if it slips my mind before then which is likely to happen) are:

  • wood and fixings to make a cheap stitching pony
  • Evo-Stik Time Bond contact adhesive
  • an Oilstone (or similar) for inevitable initial sharpening of previously mentioned tools as well as general upkeep later on
  • miscellaneous things that catch my eye which may be helpful such as clamps, sandpaper, straight edge etc

Other things yet to be appropriated into my "kit": 

  • worksurface stuff (cutting mat, poly board, granite (or similar))
  • decent desk lamp as most of my work will be completed in the late evening/small hours after finishing the late shift at "the day job" and goodness knows my eyes will need all the help they can get
  • edge slicking substance
  • graph/grid paper for when I feel up to making my own patterns
  • bone folder type tool
  • stitching awl

Things I already have, yet to be consolidated together:

  • poly mallet
  • basic geometry set (ruler, square, compases etc)
  • pencils
  • large toolbox for storage
  • stack of "craft" drawers for storage
  • non-marring spudger set which I'm sure will come in handy for poking/prodding in crevices
  • metal bodied Utility knife (and blades)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil in lieu of more specialist finishes
  • tonnes of old clothes for rags

Things I will probably get at a later date once I get a feel for everything (this does not include ad hoc replacement/upgrading of any of the above when needed):

  • butcher's block style work station (as I'll mostly be working at my 10yr old pine desk in my bedroom initially, maybe out in the shed weather permitting)
  • relevant dyes, treatments, etc and relevant applicators
  • basic carving tools (I do not plan on getting into this much but I guess it's always handy to be able pop a pretty border on something special)


I know the cost of starting a new hobby from scratch is always going to be a major consideration, but it seems leathercraft is even more so. Yes I know it's no good moaning to other people who have all been there/done that, but starting out on a shoe string is still likely to cost me upwards of £100 ($125 for you colonials ;)).

Being the sort of person I am, often doing things on a whim, and generally cautious with cash, I do not want to go to the lengths that some do and get The Works in terms of equipment and materials to start with. I don't want to spend a small fortune on something if I don't end up getting decently into it to justify the cost. That said, it seems the general advice in terms of initial outlay is "get the best you can afford" and that's what I'm doing I suppose. I guess there are those out there who have started out with much less, and I have no need nor reason trying to justify what I'm doing.

I guess in a way I'm secretly hoping that I get sufficiently good enough at the whole "leather thing" that in the long run I can start going to fairs, events, do made-to-order and the like, and be able to become (at least partially) self employed. But that's definitely a long way off.

I think for me leathercraft will always be a matter of being on a shoestring, at least in the sense of trying to get the best from the least. I've always been enthralled by the way craftsmen of all disciplines in years gone-by have come up with ingenious solutions which even centuries or millennia haven't changed much, and as much as possible I want to keep what I do "low-tech": drawing up templates by hand rather than using PC software, using as traditional methods and tools as possible, and if possible trying to be authentic in style/process with any historical based pieces I produce.

I (like to think) I am fairly good at improvising, and this will also keep costs down. Who needs a £40 edge slicker when a double-pronged piece of deer antler (free if you know where/when to look) will do? Or expensive black dyes if you can master the likes of vinegaroon and lampblack?


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