Sal

Difference between Craftools and "more expensive" tools

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I've been reading a lot lately about personal preferences of using tools such as those by Beard, Henley. King, etc., vs. Tandy's Craftools---but I'm not getting the actual reason why Tandy's are inferior to the others. What makes a $100.00 basketweave stamp better than a $5.00 basketweave stamp, or a $120.00 swivel knife/blade better than a $20.00 swivel knife/blade? I've been working with leather for over eight years (not long compared to most of you) and have used only Tandy's tools and I have received very gratifying praise from people I do work for. Am I really going to see a major improvement in my work if I spend more money on tools? If you think I will, whose tools will give me better results? I know I will receive differing opinions, but that's what I need.

Thanks. . . .

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I've been reading a lot lately about personal preferences of using tools such as those by Beard, Henley. King, etc., vs. Tandy's Craftools---but I'm not getting the actual reason why Tandy's are inferior to the others. .... Am I really going to see a major improvement in my work if I spend more money on tools? If you think I will, whose tools will give me better results? I know I will receive differing opinions, but that's what I need.

Thanks. . . .

Zen and the Art of Leathercraft....

What is quality and how do you, I and they define it? :lol:

As someone that also uses mostly craftool and Hidecrafter tools with only a few B.K. tools I know what you are saying. First this is only my opinion and it is colored by severe OCD ways and faults. I also work with tools as a living so I know the cost of a long lasting quality tool that will give consistent results is higher than say a dollar store or Harbor freight tool. That being said, For the most part I am happy with the craft tool stamps. The people I make stuff for are happy with the product. That is all that matters. But I do use the Hidecrafter basketweaves and border tools and I have some Barry King tools, basketweaves and geometrics. There is a difference in these. The Hidecrafter shafts bend. Some people say theirs have broke mine hasn't. Barry's stamp is doing just fine. So basketweaves and borders these are the stamps I wish to stock with the non Craft tool variety. I don't think my cheapness would ever let me pay $100 for a stamp though, but who knows. I kind of think that like any other craft/ hobby there is some snobbery. "ooooh look I got a Binford 6000 Xtreme Titanium waddle slapper!" I see that there is an improvement in the quality of the stamping with some stamps to warrant the increased cost. There is a reason that pros use them and it isn't to show off.

Swivel knives, you really get what you pay for. Having a smooth turning and well fitted swivel knife is oh so sweet after using the rocks for bearings tandy beginner model. It seems insignificant but it has helped my knife work a lot to get one with a saddle that feels right to me. Having a blade that stays sharp longer and is easier to maintain would be nice but I get by fine with a middle of the $road blade. Stop, Stropping and rolling is part of the experience for me so I don't feel the value in paying for the more expensive blade, again that is me.

Edited by TTcustom

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Sal,

You'll get a lot of pro and con answers here, but let me offer this. If you can't make decent products with craftools, more expensive tools won't help your tooling. Having said that, some of the more expensive tools aid in speed and crispness of tooling. They won't make you better as a tooler, but they'll make the job easier, in my opinion of course! I am a big fan of the Barry King line, and the Craft Japan line from Hidecrafters. See this thread and have a look at post #8. I try to show the difference in a Barry King geometric and a Tandy Geometric. I hit both with the same intensity (as close as I could measure by feel), and came up with the results you see. Here's the link.

:cheers:

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never mind, as you were and carry on. :lol:

Seriously if you haven't read the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" you should. Your question gave me a flashback.

Edited by TTcustom

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I've been reading a lot lately about personal preferences of using tools such as those by Beard, Henley. King, etc., vs. Tandy's Craftools---but I'm not getting the actual reason why Tandy's are inferior to the others. What makes a $100.00 basketweave stamp better than a $5.00 basketweave stamp, or a $120.00 swivel knife/blade better than a $20.00 swivel knife/blade? I've been working with leather for over eight years (not long compared to most of you) and have used only Tandy's tools and I have received very gratifying praise from people I do work for. Am I really going to see a major improvement in my work if I spend more money on tools? If you think I will, whose tools will give me better results? I know I will receive differing opinions, but that's what I need.

Thanks. . . .

Hi, Sal.

You're going to get reasons and opinions and yeas and nays. But I think what the bottom line answer would be is: invest (or borrow if you can) 3-4-5 tools in the categories you would use most: basketweaves, camos, bevelers, whatever. If you can afford it, I'd say to you invest a hundred bucks in 2-3-4 tools and see how they feel and perform. Here online we can advise you from daybreak to sunset, but there's no substitute for trying them out yourself, in hand.

Good luck.

Harvey

Los Angeles

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Old computer saying: garbage in, garbage out. Also, old friend explained it this way: you can't make chicken salad out of chicken s**t no matter how much salt and pepper you put in, how much mayo or pickles, its still chicken s**t! I've been to shows where individuals have shown all the tools they have made because they didn't have access to production tools. The time wasted in finding the parts and making some make-shift inferior quality tool could have been better spent walking to their nearest Tandy Leather Factory and buy what they needed. I realize that everyone doesn't have the bank account to afford a lot of expensive tools (me included!) but I will buy fewer better tools than spend my money on inferior tools. When I started leather work, not much besides Craftools were available, but, they were a lot better quality than what is available now. They used to be individually HAND ground and finished and made a very good impression. Over the years, well, you know the rest of the story (thank you, China). Also, we now have numerous tool makers that make it better for us from a variety and quality standpoint but you have to pay for what you get. Thanks to all you tool makers. You are filling a void that has needed filling for a long time.

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This is a VERY common question. I also used to answer it with "Craftools are good, and only a poor craftsman blames his tools." Then I went to work in a saddle shop. Just as when I was a professional Mechanic, I was using my tools to make my living. Craftools work well, but have limitations. Polishing and chrome round otherwise sharp edges and mask detail. I find this in basketweaves especially. A hand made tool with no chrome just makes a cleaner impression. As for durability... I bent and ruined a few of my craftool border stamps, by stamping a finished head stall while the customer waited. Yes, I could have soaked it, stamped it, then dried and oiled it again. The problem was the customer wanted it NOW. So one badly bent border and a tweaked basket stamp later, I bought some Barry King stamps. Never looked back.

As for swivel knives... As was pointed out, the bearings are smoother in the more expensive knives. The blades I use are the Henley, or the Al Stohlman HCS blades. Both are very high carbon steel blades that stay sharp a long time. As a pro that meant less time stropping and less frequent sharpening. More time carving equals more money. Same reason a mechanic buys and uses air tools and sockets, rather than using wrenches for everything.

Do you NEED the more expensive tools? Probably not. Unless you are making your living with them. Then I'd say you can build a cost benefit case in favor of them. I would go with the good knives and blades though. It will help keep your hand from cramping as much. BTW, I used a 3/8" straight blade, rather than an angle blade, because it gave me two cutting "ends" to work with. Half as much stropping. :)

Dave T.

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In all honestly, there is no such thing as a cheap tool. You get what you pay for. If you are going to be selling your stamped leather products buy the best you can afford as it will show up in your products.

We all buy with price point in mind. Your 3 levels of auto tools would be as follows, Harbor Freight, Craftsman and Snap-on.

This is no different when it comes to leather tools in general. TLF i presume have their stamps die struck, well the stamp looks like it was the 12th million stamp that was struck by that same die. It has lost its sharpness, pattern etc and plated on top of that which reduces its non existant sharp lines and patterns which will show on the leather you are stamping. I have not used any of the middle of the road stamping tools as i was fortunate to be introduced to Robert's tools before i started buying. I only use RB Pro series tools and have no regrets paying the extra dollars for them, yes i could not get them all at once but worked real hard to get product out the door to be able to get more of the tools that i needed because of the job they did. The feel of the tool in your hand, the balanced weight, the crisp deep pattern gets the job done easier as mentioned in another post as well as Robert will custom make you stamps as well. My RB tools are handmade one at a time, will never bend or lose their value, guaranteed. You pay for that, no different than a Fiat and Ferrari and we can all see the differences there.

Enjoy

Ian

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Thank you all very much. I am clearer on what defines a quality leather-working tool now. I don't know anyone in my area who would have the better tools to try them out (actually, I don't know anyone in my area who does leather work at all), but I feel more confident in paying the extra dollar to try a couple of them.

As always, this forum is the best teacher!

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Siegle of Ca. sells a line of tools----Crown. Anyone know anything about them or are they the same quality as Craftools?

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Siegle of Ca. sells a line of tools----Crown. Anyone know anything about them or are they the same quality as Craftools?

Sal,

I have no Crown tools, so I'm probably talking stupidly & blindly about this, but, since Siegel's is trying to get rid of their entire inventory, I would venture a guess that perhaps the tools are not all that great (poorly finished, lousy metal that bends, whatever?)- if you look at the impressions, some look rather crude. The only advantage I could see is that some of the tools can be had in either coarse checkering or fine checkering. The Ellis Barnes lines of tools that Siegels sells are, on the other hand, superb; however they are rather pricey.

As a rudimentary beginner line of tools, they're probably ok, but I would wonder why a Company would try to get rid of the inventory if they are at least as good as (perhaps better than) Craftools. At least Craftools are replaceable if they fail- I don't know about Crown. Just my speculation, just my 2 cents worth.

As an addendum- the CraftJapan tools sold by Hidecrafter & Springfield are, for the most part, really quite nice & in many cases, are nicer than Craftool- at the worst, they are equal to Craftool. I just got a B936 beveler, a triweave & a crazylegs tool, all CraftJapan, & the impressions of the 936 & the crazylegs are crisper, clearer & more detailed than the same Craftools that I already own.

russ

Edited by whinewine

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The only 2 complaints I have about Crafttools is that 1) they do not have consistency. I have 2 backgrounders, both are the same tool number but one is larger and has a more course pattern than the other. 2) I have 2 basketweave tools and neither of them make even an acceptable impression. I can pound the heck out of one and as the leather dries the impression starts to fade and after a few days the leather just looks like it has ripples in it.

I do have some good Crafttools, but just not that many.

Damon

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Sal,

I have always used crafttools until a few weeks ago. I ordered some stamps from Gomph-Hackbarth after reading the forums here about their tools. To say the least I have been thrilled and I am shocked on the quality. They create very clean impressions and have a heavy knurl on the shank of the stamp so they are easy to grip. The shank appears to be a little different as to the placement of the stamp vs. the crafttools. The price is not bad either. I bought the basic stamp set which is 15 stamps for $145 plus $5 shipping. You can search this site for Ellis Barnes or Gomph Hackbarth and I believe you will find all positive responses.

They are very nice when you call them and will assist you with any questions. I almost forgot, you can call them to get a price list and pictures of their stamps. They had even sent me a piece of leather showing their impressions. Give them a try and I am sure you will be happy.

Gomph-Hackbarth leather tools

10754n. martineau rd. Elfrida AZ. 85610

520-642-3891

Again, I am very happy with them and wanted to thank everyone who recommended them on this site.

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Almost all the "Crown" tools I've bought from Siegel of California have been either Kyoshin Elle or Craft Japan. I would say these are definitely higher quality than the Craftools I have -- at a very competitive price, too (even lower now from SofC). As Russ said, the Japanese stamps are really pretty nice. I wonder if the reason why Siegel is closing out on the "Crown" tools is because they just aren't selling enough for it to be worthwhile to continue stocking them -- nothing related to poor quality as from what I've seen, the stamps from Japan are better-quality than those from Taiwan.

So what I'm saying is, the "Crown" stamps I've purchased from Siegel are indeed Craft Japan and Kyoshin Elle stamps like what Hidecrafter sells (I only bought a few Hidecrafter stamps years ago but would assume that is still what they carry).

Micah

Sal,

I have no Crown tools, so I'm probably talking stupidly & blindly about this, but, since Siegel's is trying to get rid of their entire inventory, I would venture a guess that perhaps the tools are not all that great (poorly finished, lousy metal that bends, whatever?)- if you look at the impressions, some look rather crude. The only advantage I could see is that some of the tools can be had in either coarse checkering or fine checkering. The Ellis Barnes lines of tools that Siegels sells are, on the other hand, superb; however they are rather pricey.

As a rudimentary beginner line of tools, they're probably ok, but I would wonder why a Company would try to get rid of the inventory if they are at least as good as (perhaps better than) Craftools. At least Craftools are replaceable if they fail- I don't know about Crown. Just my speculation, just my 2 cents worth.

As an addendum- the CraftJapan tools sold by Hidecrafter & Springfield are, for the most part, really quite nice & in many cases, are nicer than Craftool- at the worst, they are equal to Craftool. I just got a B936 beveler, a triweave & a crazylegs tool, all CraftJapan, & the impressions of the 936 & the crazylegs are crisper, clearer & more detailed than the same Craftools that I already own.

russ

Edited by Leather Bum

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Sal,

Just wanted to say hi. I am a beginning leather worker myself, also in michigan, and also don't know of anyone that does either. So if I find anything good related in michigan I will try to pass it along to you. I am in portland.

jim

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Sal,

Just wanted to say hi. I am a beginning leather worker myself, also in michigan, and also don't know of anyone that does either. So if I find anything good related in michigan I will try to pass it along to you. I am in portland.

jim

Hello to you too. Thanks for introducing yourself. I'm along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Holland area.I do visit the Tandy/Leather Factory in GR from time to time but I am not impressed with the quality of leatherwork the employees there do and I have felt for a while now that there must be something better out there. By being on this forum, I have found that there is something better out there, but not much in Michigan--and I'm learning a lot here. You will to.

Happy carving. . . .

Sally

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Sal,

I myself, as of just a couple of months ago, just used Tandy stamps. However, I had the privelage to have a class with Clint Fay. I asked him this same question and he told me that many people get by with tandy tools and do very well, however, when using tools quite a bit they are more prone to bending. They are also made of a steel and then plated. With your more expensive tools being made of stainless steel and polished. I myself had many of my tandy tools plating flake off and leave really nasty scratches in my tooling. Granted you can take some emery cloth and polish it back down but, in my opinion it takes time away from tooling and I just shouldn't have to do that. I now use Barry King Tools and am extremely satisfied with them, in fact my tooling has gotten better and I feel that for me they are easier to use. Hopefully this helped a little. Have a great day and happy tooling.

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I'm glad I found this topic!! I'm getting back into leather work too, and have some old, used Crafttool stamps my dad bought off my grandfather. They're fine for practice, but as expensive at tools are, I've been worried about buying quality tools. We don't have anything near here, and I have found Springfield Leather. I bought a few basoc supplies and a few books, but no stamps yet.. I did get a set of edge smoother things.. Sorry lol. I hope they do okay.

This site is great, and is very helpful.. I'm really glad you made this topic Sal!!... And I just realized how old this topic was.. Thats what I get for mobile browsing. XD

Edited by Tonners

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Howdy! My two cents worth. Part of the advantage of "good" tools is the variety available. Barry King has a bunch of tools for "Sheridan Style" carving. Bob Beard has an even larger bunch of tools for all kinds of carving especially "Figure Carving". I teach at a Tandy store and have all of their tools. But when I am doing "Sheridan" I use many of Barry's. The same for "Figure" carving and Bob Beard's tools. Tandy now has a new line of tools for "Sheridan" style and they are a little more money, but for "Sheridan" they are pretty good. Good Luck, Stan

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@Tonners,

If your Craftools are older, without letters, they a probably pretty good tools depending on how much they were used or abused. Tandy stuff is cheap, but that is a good thing. You can definitely afford to buy one and take it home and see if you like it. If you start using it a lot, you can call-up Barry King and give him the number and he probably has something alike or at least similar for you. If you liked the Tandy tool, you'll love the custom tool. That way you don't have to buy a bunch of high dollar tools all at once. Bob Beard ditto although his wait time is longer, but the tools are really excellent and guaranteed forever.

Art

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Don't forget to look at ebay for tools, with a little patience you can get stamping tools there for a fraction of the price of a new one. This is also basically the only way to get hold of a larger number of older pre -63 Craftools.

I have over 200 tools that I got for an average of a dollar and half each on ebay. Even with the shipping costs overseas, I have saved hundreds of dollars compared with buying the new and inferior Craftools. Just remember to buy them in bulk and resell the ones you don't want/duplicates.

Also, I want to point out an underlying risk called "tool craze". That's when you basically start to try to collect all the tools you don't have, always looking for the better or rarer ones.
The truth is that you can do 80% of general tooling with only a handful basic stamping tool. Everything else is either variations or specialist.

The fact is that very few people explore all the possibilities with the tools they have at hand, instead fooling them self believing that another new tool will help them doing better.
So unless money isn't an issue - I would just get some basic cheap Craftools or Ivans, and then tool away for all my worth. With time you'll learn and realize where and how certain stamps are limiting your progress and when that time arrives, you're able to seek out and purchase just the right tools for you.

I might have hundreds of stamping tools, but I probably only use 20% of them for 80% of my tooling work. The rest just sits there looking pretty 'just in case I need them'...

Edited by ConradPark

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Are we still on this? :)

For tools that make their design from single impressions, the Tandy tools are not superior. By that I mean, basket weave, geometric stamps, perhaps some vein and seed tools -- anything where the FACE of the tool becomes the FINISHED LOOK.

But for bevelers, shaders (thumbprints), etc. where the tool is walked, this is far less important. Certainly the newer tools at Tandy -- say in the last 5 years or so that i know of - are pretty sad and I won't own them. But my older ones work just fine.

I personally think much of the "difference" in tools is marketing POO. As in a t-shirt is $6. But somebody tell you it belonged to a relative of Elvis, and suddenly they want $6k. Same shirt, different day. ;)

Yes, I know the munkys will be here to go on about this guy or that guy is THE guy. But truth is, there is nobody here - in fact nobody LIVING - that invented any of it. BEAUTIFUL saddles were being crafted from leather CENTURIES before anybody here. They didn't use Craftool brand.

Edited by JLSleather

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The  7 pc creative set found in hobby stores bent easily when using moistened veg tan leather. I also noticed that a magnet does not stick to my set. Cash in the trash. The extreme prices and poor quality may drive me to never stamp leather ever again.

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Try leathercraftools.com

They are in Japan..

Their stamps do stick to magnets..and are good..allow 7 days to 15 days from them to arrive ( USA customs delays permitting )..maybe a bit longer over the holidays.

Special stamps..beautiful work..try arbalet12...member here..he is in Bulgaria..

Edited by mikesc

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