Schpacko

Small Tricks For The Leatherworker

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I know there are literally thousands of years of experience in leather crafting on this forum. I am sure every one of us has developed some small tricks that make the life of a leathercrafter easier and would like to create a thread to collect as many of them as possible. Please post them here, no matter how small or trivial they seem to you.

Here are some of mine, there's a picture attached for every one:

  1. "Improved Washers" to cut small radiuses
    As i know, many of you use washers to cut small radiuses. So do i. But i noticed that the ones for countersink screws work better for me, they are easier to hold. Plus, i punched some round pieces out of a rubber sheet and glued them to the bottom side of the washers for better grip on the leather
  2. Rubber bands for Spools
    This one is so obvious, it took me years to find out about it. Its simply keeps them from unravelling and makes it a lot easier to find the ending of the thread.
  3. Felt Pens for Stitching Grooves
    It annoied the hell out of me that i had to re-dye the stitching grooves of dyed pieces. It was messy and time consuming. So i tried some Felt Tip Pens and it just worked out great. As you can see, its not a huge difference, but enough to weaken the contrast between the groove and the rest of the leather. On the finished piece you would notice an undied groove underneath the Thread, but you would not after re-dying it with a felt tip.
    I guess you could use any waterproof Felt Tips. I use the ones on the picture because the have a huge range of colours (more than 100 iirc).

Now i'm excited to hear some tricks from you guys!

Thank in advance

Schpacko

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Hello, I like your ideas a lot...simple stuff you just don't think about.

To add something here that I learned from another member is about leather storage.

A simple tip is to be sure to store like leather and colors together and even more specifically your oiled leathers away from veg tan. Otherwise, you may get some color bleeding or oil stains where you don't want that wont come out. Too easy to chuck everything on the same shelf without thought.

There are lots of ways to store.....rolled, folded etc that is personal preference and space dependent.

Hope others post some tips.

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Good thread, Schpacko.

Here's a little tip, an Easy Bench Anvil.

I'm always pounding on something. I dislike setting snaps, punching holes, pounding pricking irons, etc., on my granite surface place, which I try to reserve for stamping. I have small work surface and need every inch of flat space I can muster for its many uses. I stow my surface plate to the back of my bench until I am ready to do some stamping.

Instead of having to move the granite in and out in front of me (it's heavy!) and potentially damaging it with a punch, I've made an "anvil" out of an 18" length of 1"x3" steel bar stock. The bar is much easier to move in front of me if need be for extended pounding, but often I find it convenient to just leave it stowed at the edge of my workspace where it's easy to lean over and set a snap or the like. I've cut a 3" wide length off my 12"x12" Poundo board to protect my punches.

For setting snaps and such I usually use the bar laid on its 3" side. But it's also handy set on it's one inch side and even and hung out over the edge of my bench to get into small nooks and crannies. There's enough mass in its 18" length to keep it steady for lighter pounding, but if I really want to whack away I just clamp it to my workbench. Saved me and my back a lot of time and work.

Thanks, Michelle

Edited by silverwingit

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Great topic and sure that everyone has developed some interesting tools/methods at their bench.

I have 5 small anvils on my bench and all different shapes and sizes. One designed for jewelers, one very small hobby anvil, a couple of intermediate anvils and the largest I use is the anvil for leatherworkers as sold by Weaver. I love that anvil and has more uses that I could describe.

On my dye bench and on my tooling/pyrography bench, I have a 4' section covered by woven backed rubber printers mat as used on large presses. Very comfortable work surface for me and spilling a drop of dye does not cause any problem.

Also enjoy having a good selection of different size stainless rulers, sae and metric, along with thin beam squares. Wish I could find larger thin beam squares as mine are 6" max but very nice to work with.

Using the threaded side of various bolts, I have rigged up a few for imprinting the thread design and makes some interesting patterns. Also use hex nuts, washers and anything strong enough, and with an unusual shape, to stamp/press designs into leather.

Found that, for certain items, model railroad tracks, ho and n gage, make some nice outlines when pressed with my arbor press. Even use the curved sections, now and then.

I imagine anything could be used if handled properly. I never throw things in the junk pile anymore, without giving them a try at the bench. Amazing results, at times.

Had some counterfiet chinese coins that had nice designs and couldn't read them anyway so I put them in the press and got some very nice impressions. I have a few extra if anyone would like to try one. Picked them up from a guy that purchased at an estate sale and thought they were silver. Lost out on that one. Take a magnet with you when looking at coins of other lands.

So much more to do and fun to have.

God Bless.

Ray

Edited by raysouth

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I've got a trick to add. It's actually a specialize tool I modified to solve a problem. When lacing notebook edges I have a bad habit of lacing until I have a very short length of lace left before trying to dry splice in a new piece. Sometimes I get stuck around a corner and either need to backup my lace to before the corner (wasting a lot of lace) or push on past the corner and end up with a very short length for splicing in the new section. It happened enough that I finally took a standard Tandy two prong lacing needle and cut it in half. I then filed down the newly cut tip, just to remove the sharp edge, and made the point a bit narrower like the original tip would have been. The result, a half sized lacing needle that I can swap in and finish the splice.

Bob

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I use packing tape a lot on the back of the leather when tooling to help prevent stretch... mostly because it's convenient. The real trick with it is to have it go beyond the edges of the piece, especially with smaller pieces. You can either rest your palm on it to hold it in place better, or tape it to your slab if you want.

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Here's one I use a brick chisel 2.25" to cut my card pockets. It saves a ton of time and puts a nice looking finish on the card pocket slits. then use an edger on the flesh side

Edited by jayjay

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The problem with rubber bands on lacing that is dyed and finished, is that the latex will react with the finish on the leather and stick to it in time. A better way is to punch two or three appropriately sized holes in the cardboard on the end of the spool and thread the end of the lacing through them.

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i made myself a wooden bone folder from a scrap of Black Walnut. Just roughly cut it to size, then used the bench sander to add the smooth curves and flat areas i wanted. Then finished it with plenty of very smooth sandpaper. Its my cheapest tool and probably the one i use most!

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Reading about spills of dye and having experienced myself, I made a small bottle holder which I will try to describe.

Two pieces of 2x4 glued together, about 10" long. Traced around 4 oz. bottle, drilled hole in center, routed to the outline. Cleaned out to a depth of @ 2". Did this for two slots and then glued the holder inside a shallow tray, slightly larger and gives me @ 1/2" all around the block. Saved me many problems.

I will attempt to take pic and get on later but having bit of difficulty getting pics on computer lately. Lack of know how, I suppose.

God Bless.

Ray

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just remembered my other re-purposed thing...

My wife makes lots of silicon moulds, and occasionally the residue that's left in the bottom of the mixing pot creates a little 1-3cm thick disc of silicon. Its perfect for using as a Needle cushion - keps them all safe and easy to find.

i also used one to create an anti-topple base for a tall thin bottle of solvent. Just cut a hole in the silicon fractionally smaller than the bottle, so it grips it tightly. Now it has no chance of tipping over, and i can jam the brush handle into a small hole in the silicon so the solvent applicator is always with the bottle.

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Putting bees wax on your punches makes them cut better and easier to remove leather from inside the punch, also for smaller punches (say 1/16") use a thin needle to clear out leather. For threading a needle, use a flat mallet to smash down lace/thread, works very well on waxed thread.

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a mallet? thats a bit violent isnt it? I find its easiest to flatten the waxed tip between my two thumbnails before threading..

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I use parifin wax instead of beeswax on my punches. Beeswax is a little sticky and parifin is not.

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Several years back my wife gave this to me. A shower suction handle stuck to a cutting ruler. I absolutely love it, and I use it at least once on every project.

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I thought of another one. It has to do with accurately centering a hole punch on a spot marked with an awl or pen.

I struggled and struggled trying to "hit" a marked location with a hole punch. I always seemed to "miss" and have the hole slightly off position. I finally figured out a pretty much fool-proof method. I position the hole punch (single tool or rotary punch) over the mark and very gently depress the punch by hand only enough to lightly mark the perimeter of the hole onto the surface of the leather. Then I lift the punch only far enough to see the relationship between the temporary circular mark left on the leather to see what adjustment needs to be made in order to hit the exact spot I'm shooting for. It's then easy to repeat the process. If you do this gingerly enough, the previous (very light) circular mark will be at least partially "erased" by the next mark. Finally, when I get a temporary circular indentation from the hole punch that's exactly centered over my target mark, it's easy to re-position the punch and make the final hole. Then the action of the final punch stretches the surface of the leather enough to remove any telltale test marks. As with anything else in our craft, after you do this a few times you get better and better at it and only need one or two test shots before you hit "paydirt."

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My magnet compass, took a extendable shop magnet and fit it to the lead side of a regular compass and found a small super powered magnet. stick the un-attatched magnet under the leather and pop down the compass the extendable side rotates and the old pointer side acts as a scratch awl thus not marking the leather and providing a perfect circle. takes some time to get the hang of it but it works.

My log, i love my log. I wanted a stamp holder but i didn't want to pay the price so i grabbed a chain saw and cut out this way to big section of a tree stripped the bark and started drilling holes, about 3 rows of holes in i thought "i would have to be a millionaire to own this many stamps" so i stopped.

over the last 5 months this log has become the hub of my work space i made several larger holes for markers, pens, pencils, styluses, and a center groove for my glass burnisher. i added a strap along the outside to hold awls among other things and now its a monstrosity of sharp objects and tools. It seems simple and no-brainer but its functional and super ugly (Let the wood dry for a long time before you go all drill happy on it or itll split).

The most recent thing i saw and fell in love with was Nigel Armitage's log work station with his stitching pony on it, as soon as i saw it I drew up one thats similar (didnt see the whole thing in the video) and currently have my uncle who does chainsaw carvings working on it.

Love the parafin wax idea, i had heard of bar soap but didnt care for that idea to much, i have alot of beeswax and parafin around cause i blend it to make my edge wax. thanks for the idea

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You can use the Head of a big Hammer as a Mini anvil too.

Tip i got from ukray: use a Block of soft Lead as a counter when punching holes. It ont damage the hole punches and you can flaten the surface by hammering it.

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Like to see a pic of that tool holder log, Murf

Just to see how you organize things into it

Scott

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Just a very simple tip i found , when you go to a petrol station ( gas station ) they sometimes have a dispenser with free plastic gloves to protect your hands from the fuel , they make ideal disposable or even re-usable gloves for when your dying leather.

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Some very nice inputs so far guys, keep 'em coming and thanks a lot!

But this thread would be even better if it had more pictures, some things are pretty hard to describe and even harder to understand :)

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finally got around to getting some pix of the things i made and use....

bone folder Etc

Bone folder, Slicker both made from Walnut, the pin cushion is some leftover silicone

stitching pony

a stitching pony made from two old ikea bed slats!

folding table

a folding table that i made years ago, brought out to hold the bags at the perfect height to work on!

adam

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I don't use these for leather work, but a good source for spuds is tooth brush handles. -- Tex

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spuds? whats a spud?

in the UK a spud is slang for a potato! so now i'm really intrigued....

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A spud usually is part of a wrench, but in industry here in the USA any long straight tool used for prying, rubbing or manipulating is sometimes called a spud. Also a potato digger is called a spud. I have also seen the term used in other Industrial applications such as rubbing tape down. Finally, yes we oftentimes call a potato a spud. -- Tex :rolleyes:

Edited by Tex Shooter

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