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I came across a batch of old rusty leather working tools (various stamps, edgers, etc. - 26 pieces in total). I have two main issues on which I would appreciate some of your ideas:

1. identifying the intended use of particular tools

2. getting them back to performance


Looks like a belt end punch with a slot ... but is closed at the back, so it is something else, I guess ...


Looks like an edge beveler ... but the grooves are upside down, and there is no groove in the front - it ends with a point


Looks like a round stylus of sorts ... but way oversized (the grid is 1cm x 1cm, or about 3/4"), so maybe for stamping ball imprints?


And this is a batch of what looks like stamps, punchers or cutters. Leaf and flower designs, oversized again. Were they used for cutting out patterns, or for stamping their shape?

Has anybody seen something like this before, and knows for what products/style they were used?

There are other tools as well, but I did not include them here because they kind of make sense to me already, and there is a limit on total files upload size.

The second issue is more practical ... how to restore them?

Rust is heavy.

I was thinking of using distilled vinegar, and afterwards oiling and scrubbing them with steel wool. Sharpening would probably be done by using sandpaper on a stick. Any experience?

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There are other threads on rust removal here. Try a search. There are a number of commercial products now for removing rust. Recommended instead of wire brush, etc. that remove or damage the original material. For antique stuff, usually want to avoid damaging the original surface as much as possible.

Those are a number of dies used to cut those shapes. Use a mallet to drive the dies through the leather.

The first one looks like it is for cutting short straps used to sew buckles to a case or heavier harness strap. Fold it over, insert the buckle and tang, stitch it down.


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#1 is a mallet die for the cinch carrier normally placed under rt frnt concho on a saddle. #2 & #3 are for use in awl hafts for different border effects on border stamped only tack and saddles, #4 are home made clicker dies for cutting out different shaped and sized conchos, carriers etc. The ones with the thickened tops may have been used as mallet dies with some kind of striker. For #1 & #4, maybe a ceramic bead sand blaster in a machine shop might be the best. #2 & #3 are probably steel wool and elbow grease projects. More like wrist and finger grease.

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Thank you, northmount and oltoot! That makes sense. I appreciate your input!

What do you think about this one:


Something for the edges?


Lightly curved small blade. Self-explanatory as a knife. Or is there more to it, like a more specialized purpose?


Looks like a homemade stamp with a flower pattern. But the imprint is rather weak, so ... could it be a setter of sorts? (or maybe I'm just overthinking it...)


And this one is definitely a stamp with a leaf or tree pattern.

I have searched other threads on rust removal. They are numerous and provide highly varying information. So I decided to use all of the information and apply it in a way that makes sense to me. I am reluctant to go directly after the commercial products, as (1) brand names as well as the quality of the same brand vary a lot between countries and (2) one should always attempt to find a non-commercial alternative with the stuff one already has at home :) So far, I've soaked it in white vinegar (9% acid) for 15 hours, then sprayed it with WD40 after taking it out. Then (now) came the elbow grease part. I'm (slowly...) trying out different methods (a - paper towel with paste made from baking soda and sewing machine oil, b - steel wool, c - wire brush on Dremel). The rust is coming off quite quickly and the metal is starting to shine again, except for blotchy parts of thick rust which will most likely require the sandpaper approach. When the results are in, I'll try to find an appropriate thread and present the results. Perhaps somebody finds them useful. Also - I put fine steel wool in the remaining vinegar, because I am already running out of the last batch of vinegaroon.

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