hilldale

Getting tools in Australia?!?

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Hey! I've been scouring these pages for months, filing away what I can into an already full brain - thanks to all who have shared their knowledge. I have had some experience with leather work and have some basic cutting/stitching tools but want to explore carving/tooling. My problem; I live in Australia, where the only option is the new and cheap Craftool (please please please, someone correct me if I'm wrong) and there is a zero used market here so buying OS is really the only option. With our poor exchange rate (68c on 1USD), taxes, customs, postage, I have been trying to nab job lots of used older stamps rather than piecemeal to keep postage costs sensible (accepting that I will still probably have to pay more per tool than anyone on this forum would probably be willing to!) From what I have read here, I don't believe I am being too cheap with my set budgets but some sets seems to garner a bit of a bidding frenzy and quite a bit of sniping in the closing seconds. My question to you all, if you had the chance to start over with hindsight what would you do - 15 new quality tools (Barry King?) or a job lot used vintage Craftool (that seem to be going for a similar price) to get started? As a metalsmith, I have learnt it pays to get quality tools (work wise and environmentally) and have no problems paying what something is worth (of which we all have a different definition I know). I know the tools required, depends on what you want to do. I'm a bird nerd, so have been looking mainly at stamps appropriate to exploring that obsession in leather. Would love any and all opinions. Cheers, Julie

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My take is how do you know you need the more expensive tools until you have tried the lower cost ones and found them failing to meet your needs,

I would suggest buying the Tandy ones which are still good tools and when you have the experience upgrade as required after all the Crafttools are relitivly low cost items and of reasonable quality

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Thanks for your reply Chris - much appreciated. I don't know that I need more expensive ones, just wondering if people get what they need from second hand (as opposed to new cheap) over the expensive ones. I question the new stamps using my instinct as a jeweller that the cheaper tools really are often just that. The very few pieces I have purchased that were made in India or Taiwan just don't cut the mustard next to German or even US quality. I feel I wasted my money on these but more than that they create a cycle of producing more low quality tools because there seems to be a demand, when in fact many are used to try out and then sit in the wasteland at the back of the second drawer when something better comes along. I haven't read much positive about the modern Tandy tools, mostly try and if you stick with it upgrade and I understand the general theory on that. Incidentally, Tandy has now closed in Australia - the market just isn't here. I was questioning more on the used Craftool market vs expensive. Thanks again :)

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Not sure if you know of this company, I have never used them myself - obvious reasons,  but they are down under.  So no exchange rates always a good thing.

https://www.birdsall-leather.com.au

Also in New Zealand.

https://lapco.co.nz

Hope this helps

JCUK 

Edited by jcuk

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I am going to offer a different perspective.  As stated above you really don't know yet if the cheaper tools won't get the job done for you.  My personal opinion is there is a small percentage of people who tool leather that will actually notice the difference in the tools or people will notice a difference in the quality of their work based on the tools used.  I would buy the cheaper tools learn the craft then decide if a more expensive tool will make the project better or would the money be better spent on additional tools, for me its been the money is better spent on more tools so I can accomplish more things.  Maybe at some point in the future my carving/stamping skills will reach a level that the tool matters but not yet.

Todd

Edited by Hildebrand
clarification

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@hilldale As a metalsmith, have you considered making your own stamps? See if you can get ahold of a copy of Ron Edwards' 8th Bushcraft book, all about bush leatherwork. He (who grew up in an Ozzie saddler's shop) shows a lot of home-made tools, including stamps. I bet you could make a lot of stamps from a couple metres of stainless round, and even if you used mild they would be a country mile better than a lot of the pot metal stamps that you'd pay through the nose for. Plus, nobody would have stamps quite like yours!

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@jcuk thanks for taking the time to reply. Appreciated! I have purchased bits and pieces off Birdsall a number of times over the years. Their service is great and they stock Craftool brand. I contacted them recently as quite a number of the basic starters are out of stock - they are hoping for new stock to arrive in 3 months (not an unusual wait time in my experience for imported items and often at the lower end of the timeline). I haven’t come across lapco before so thank you. They look to have a minimum spend for international orders and unbranded tools but I will definitely give them a look over. Thanks again.  Cheers, Julie

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@Hildebrand Thankyou for you perspective Todd - I like that you are happy with the standard available tools. I feel I have given the impression that I need expensive tools to be any good and this is definitely not my thinking at all. I have no problem buying cheaper tools if they do what needs to be done (I only know that cheap smithing tools don’t get the job done so am asking the questions before diving in). I was questioning more new handmade vs vintage and few vs many. I’ve done the numbers and new craftool (Taiwan made) vs vintage (US made) per tool is not a lot different with shipping and taxes. I have a budget that is sensible but not tight (but paying 20-50bucks postage each time by buying a few at a time is nonsensical so buying “enough” is important ). I probably wasn’t too clear but I guess I was asking with the power of hindsight ... more cheaper stamps or fewer expensive stamps. Your perspective of pay less and get more designs to explore answers that perfectly. So thankyou :) Cheers, Julie

Edited by hilldale
Additional info

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@Matt S thanks for the book recommendation - I think I’ve seen Ron’s books stocked at Adelaide Leather and Saddlery when online hunting so will check it out. Great suggestion making my own. A number of years back I was looking to make my own chasing and repousse tools but purchasing the required tool steel was a glitch. I tried a standard square but the results were less than perfect metal on metal. Metal on leather is a different story so might hit it again. I’m into slow making; no fancy machines, sanding, shaping and polishing by hand so I may be able to tool some leather in a few years following this path! Much of my craft comes from old books when tools were few. The jewellery industry is bombarded with so many tools and forums full of beginners that believe every tools is necessary. Some get the job done faster, but I find the basics still do the job and I won’t buy a tool if I have one that will do it - even if it is less efficient time wise. For me it is the challenge of working with what I have. I understand from a business perspective this does not work for everyone and more actually is better.  I don’t want to fall into that trap with leather so am asking the questions (quite poorly I think but hey). My father-in-law was a pattern maker. He left us not long after I met my husband so I never got his wisdom, but I have hundreds of old tools and many times his tools are utilised in replace of a “dedicated” jewellers tool. You also have me thinking that there are some very handy machinists in the farm workshop that have turned trash into treasure for me before. Off to pick through the tool drawers! Now to add more hours to the day :)

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@chrisash and @Hildebrand I just wanted to add to you both that these opinions on the lower end priced tools are really important to me. Metal forums are full of people saying “this tool is great” and suddenly 100 people have stated “thanks, just ordered it” no questions asked. Sometimes it is an overpriced specialty tool just for the sake of a tool and sometimes a super cheap poorly made tool that doesn’t do what it promises. Either way is a waste of money in my opinion. I don’t believe for a second that you “need” everything or that it needs to be top shelf. I don’t want someone saying “you have to have Barry King/Hackbarth etc etc” and me running out and buying it. I want opinions both ways and choose what works best for me financially and personally. I also don’t want to be paying over and over for postage and taxes by picking piece by piece so am trying to make an informed decision. I guess I probably also need to clarify that I’m more concerned about the definition of cheap as in cheaply made rather than cheap as in not expensive. I like something in my hand that has had care taken to make it in the same way that a nice piece of tooled leather is more meaningful than a mass produced machine pressed design. I guess that’s why I’m stuck on vintage (when more care was taken and it was all about making tools for leatherworkers) rather than new factory produced where it’s really just getting a product to market. I purchase my leather direct from the tannery floor from the family that have been tanning for generations. These people do it for the love of an industry and this is important to me. I’m trying to find a balance between what I feel comfortable having in my hand and what does the job. Thankyou again. 

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With modern production it may be more of the skill of the draftsperson  than the skill of the machinest on making tools these days as i imagine most if not all are made by cad these days where there is high quality brought about by consistancy, acuracy and low cost benifits.

Old skills are great to remember and praise, but the world moves on; and just maybe, high price items made by skilled craftsmen years ago, are still used as justification by a well known brand , even though the craftsmen are no longer hired but CAD has taken over

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Private sales of used tools are few and far between in Australia, but they do come along occasionally. I keep my ear to the ground, and I try to make sure I have cash available to me as much as possible, so I can snap up any decent offers that float past.

I have bought a few dozen tools from a bloke in the UK, whose name escapes me. He bought out a tool retailer of 100's or 1000's of New Zealand made tools, which I think were Kelly Tool Co. I got all of these from eBay for around the $10 - $15AUD mark.

 

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Tools in Aus are few and far between because Rockoboy buys them all :lol:

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Your on the right track, Tools aren't scarce here in Wyoming but money is lol. I make what I can, forget about what I want and buy only what I need. I have made a good share of my equipment, head knife, awls, modeling tools, a few stamps,  mallet and  stitching pony. to name a few. I find you can re work a number of cheaper tools to fit your needs also such as old screwdrivers. If you have metalworking tools you are a step ahead of the game.

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On ‎4‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 6:04 PM, noobleather said:

Tools in Aus are few and far between because Rockoboy buys them all :lol:

HEYYY!!! I resemble that remark! :youwish:

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https://www.leffler.com.au/ is worth a look.  Bit like Birdsall but reasonable prices, forget exchange rates and overseas freight.

I find Birdsall has some good prices on leather.

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Hillldale, what side are you on. East or west

 

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Barry King Tools In Oz Here: https://www.chaylor.com.au

 

 

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Hilldale, and others,

Eons ago in the mid-1950's, in Boy Scouts, we had a great craftsman scoutmaster.  He had us making leather stamps out of large wood spikes and carriage bolts.  We'd use his hoard of metal files and some punches and chisels to make a basic form, then refine it.

Stamping leather, the soft spikes were plenty hard and gave us a start on a fascinating hobby.  On some of his tools, then some of ours, he'd use cyanide to harden them, then later Kasenit.   He'd help touch up little features, was a wizard with a file.  I still have some of those tools upstairs....  I believe there is an article on his work in an old issue of Boy's Life magazine.

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Thanks everyone for chiming in. Apologies - I didn't have my notifications set correctly! 

@noobleather thanks for the heads up on the undersupply issues. In response I say...

@Rockoboy stop buying all the tools ;)

@chuck123wapati haha, yes isn't it always the way - money always gets in the way of a good deal! I've been researching a bit more and yes, there is definitely room to make my own and adapt others. I have a number of dual purpose tools already so am exploring a little more down that road. Thanks for the input. 

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@Rockoboy I've enquired over a few second hand collections that have popped up. The problem is, so has everyone else!!! The last seller wanted me to make an offer on a huge collection without answering fair questions on what was in working order or if the tools were rust free (or even what brand) as they had so many people interested. I'm just not willing to go sight unseen. I'm inland, which doesn't help the in "pickup only" options. I've done alot of "making do" in jewellers tools so will adjust my expectations. Will keep my eyes peeled too! Thanks! 

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@Discus49 thanks, I haven't come across Leffler. I've only ever purchased direct from the tannery. Greenhalgh Leather in Ballarat is a family run and veg tanned the old way. You can pick direct from their stack and I highly recommend them. Online is not ideal but they are certainly friendly and helpful and know their craft. Sadly, they are being overrun by housing estates spreading into the surrounding farmland so hope they can continue.

@silverback I'm in the Riverina, NSW, about 8hrs out of central Sydney. About an hour out of town so not convenient for anything really!!!

@Chainthanks! Will check it out. 

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@MikeRock ah yes, the art of creating something to create something! I'm not certain cyanide is my answer but I'm certainly going to work some boy scout magic on some old tools. Thanks for popping in with your memories! 

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