Allotment17

Buying my first piece of leather in UK - advice please

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First of all, thank you for a friendly welcome to the forum and for some great advice and thank you to Fredk for all your help.

I've spent hours and hours and hours reading and watching and trying to familiarise myself with leather, leather tools and leatherwork and I'm ready to buy my first piece of leather. I've visited Le Prevo, AA Crack and Abbey England websites and have to say that I am feeling overwhelmed by the choices out there. I'm very nervous about purchasing without seeing (visiting to look is not on the cards at the moment) and I don't want to waste money on something I cannot/don't want to use. 

My aim for the leather is something to use for practice mainly. I learn by 'what happens if I do that'. I'm hoping that my practicing can be used to produce something myself and family can use. So far I've made a very basic pouch and several various key fobs. So I think I need plain veg tanned leather which I can practice cutting, edging, punching, stamping and sewing with.

I've looked at Le Prevo but I don't know enough to choose from them. AA Crack is bewildering to me. I felt a bit more comfortable at Abbey's website and, if left to my own devices I would order the following, however, as I know nothing (comparatively), I would appreciate some advice as to whether I am on the right track (or not). I was thinking of the 1.8 to 2 mm or 2 to 2.5 mm.

https://www.abbeyengland.com/tooling-shoulder-9727.html

Many thanks. 

Clare

Edited by Allotment17
typos

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Looking at the Le Provo site in their natural veg-tan section, would this also be the right sort of thing? (a bit cheaper!).

1799263054_Screenshot2019-06-23at11_57_27.png.62a62882be7878103bf5b33b804cf8e7.png

Edited by Allotment17

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First reckoning is what you want to make with it.

Shoulder is fairly stiff but not as stiff as back bone part of a butt, a shoulder is not very wide, not wide enough nor thick enough for a man's belt but you can usually get a woman sized belt out of its width

This chart done by Tandy is handy. It is a guide only, you don't need to stick to it absolutely

Leather Usage

For a first leather I would, and did, select a 2 to 2.5mm leather. Its a good all rounder and you can thin it if necessary. So that would be the 026

I've dealt with Le Prevo for about 20 years. I've not dealt with any others mainly as none would send to me in N.I.

Email or phone Jan or Stu at Le Prevo. Tell them what you want to make ask for their advice & suggestion. They will help you choose

** be aware that Le Prevo prices need 20% VAT added plus a delivery charge & 20% VAT on that too

PS. Look in Le Prevo's Clearance Offers. There might be some cheap-ish leather there.

 

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If it is only for practice sewing, cutting etc ....unless you are looking to try practising carving / tooling ? ..I'd buy splits..waaay cheaper..

Maybe add in a piece of the better stuff from their scraps / clearance  bin so that you'll be able to put into practice what you learned on the splits..

Edited by mikesc

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Hi Clare, I have not been into leatherwork very long myself. What I done was bought some 1.2 mm and 3.2 mm veg shoulder from Metropolitan Leather at Thrapston near Kettering. I then made belts ,coffee coasters and guitar straps from the 3.2, and Watch straps, pouches and minimalist wallets with the1.2. All these avail themselves to be stamped, stitched , cut and wet moulded. And because they are smallish , you get plenty of practice. I hope this helps. T

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I have bought leather & tools from The Identity Store in Matlock, Derbyshire, and I'm happy enough with that. They are pleasant and helpful if you phone them up for advice. Recently they have changed their name to

https://www.identityleathercraft.com

I haven't bought anything from this supplier, but I've heard good reports

https://www.buyleatheronline.com

Edited by Zulidog

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There are tons of leather offcuts available on ebay, both chrome and veg tan where you can practice at low cost also companies like JWood supply ecconomy veg tan which is very low cost and good for practice items but not tooling https://www.jwoodleathers.co.uk/natural-veg-tan-leathers/

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For trying out making stuff etc buy smaller quantities, try Tandy or 

Edited by robs456

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19 minutes ago, robs456 said:

For trying out making stuff etc buy smaller quantities, try Tandy or 

A couple of comments -

Tandy have recently undergone quite a change. They have now closed all their shops in Europe apart from one in Spain. If you order anything from their website it will be supplied from USA

Thanks for the link to leather4craft, it looks interesting. I might buy some of their linen thread

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4 hours ago, zuludog said:

Tandy have recently undergone quite a change. They have now closed all their shops in Europe apart from one in Spain. If you order anything from their website it will be supplied from USA

Thanks for the heads-up. Didn't buy anything from them for a couple of years now, good to know.
 

 

4 hours ago, zuludog said:

Thanks for the link to leather4craft, it looks interesting. I might buy some of their linen thread

Their stuff looks nice, but I've only bought some foil in small quantities from them. They're nice to deal with though. 

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Thank you for all the information where to go for leather. I've spent a lot of time looking at the sites suggested and learning lots along the way. I placed my first order with Le Prevo (I was very impressed with their customer service). The leather arrived next day and here's what I've been doing with it over the weekend. Please remember I am beginner so this is very basic, however, I hope it is useful. It's to house my husband's gardening knife, he wanted to be able to hang it from his belt and also keep it in his pocket.

 

 

FullSizeRender1.jpg

 

IMG_2695.JPG

Edited by Allotment17
photo sizing

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That looks the bizz alright,  :thumbsup:

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29 minutes ago, fredk said:

That looks the bizz alright,  :thumbsup:

Thank you! 

 

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That's good!

But I wonder - it doesn't look like you've given it any kind of treatment or proofing; that would be a good idea for a gardening knife sheath. Here's a simple method

Get some grease for leather boots from an outdoor shop or similar if you don't already have some. Scrape it out into an old jam jar and thin it slightly with white spirit. Apply it all over, inside and out, with an old toothbrush to soak the leather, using the brush to get down into the bottom of the sheath

Put the knife in and you can knead the leather to form it round the knife. Leave it on a bench or windowsill or something for a couple of days to dry out then buff it with a soft cloth.

It will probably darken the leather slightly

I've been doing that with my sheaths for years and not had any complaints

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14 hours ago, zuludog said:

But I wonder - it doesn't look like you've given it any kind of treatment or proofing; that would be a good idea for a gardening knife sheath. Here's a simple method

Hi zuludog, thank you for your reply and advice, you are right, I haven't given it any treatment.  I like the idea of using something I already have in the house, and if it darkens the leather too then that is a plus for me. 

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At the risk of rambling too much and going off topic, what sort of things were you thinking of making?

Whatever you want, there is a huge amount of advice on YouTube, both for techniques such as saddle stitch and edge finishing, and specific items like belts, pouches, and sheaths. Even if you can't find exactly what you want the methods are, as the jargon goes, transferrable, and you are bound to find something similar. Just watch as many as you have the stamina for!

Especially good are those by Nigel Armitage and Ian Atkinson

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A few weeks ago I saw a leather toolbag, quite simple, gusset bag with strap and handle, which I really liked. It wasn't quite right so I thought, as you do, 'I can learn to make that'. So here I am. I'm starting with small projects, that will have a use, in order to learn (the above was not what I intended to make but was requested so I had a go). I'm a dog walker, so I can make use of plenty of key fobs and belt loops. I've also made a one card holder for myself and I want to make a decent pencil case to withstand the rigours of a packed school bag. Eventually, after the toolbag, the big make that I'm hoping I will get to is a briefcase for my husband to hold his laptop and paperwork, he can never find exactly the right thing of the right size and he has high hopes that I'll produce one for him. I don't think that is on the cards for some time though. So I think I kind of have a plan of what I want to make but am happy trying out all sorts of things. 

I've discovered Nigel and Ian on YouTube and enjoyed many hours watching videos from various people and both learning a lot and confusing myself. For example, finishes and dyes, there seem to be so many different types and these days you can't pop along to a shop and chat to someone, or try out various products before deciding which ones you like. I don't want to end up buying one of everything, which is why I was very pleased with your finishing/proofing advice which means I don't have to buy anything for that. I am slowly building up a list of products and tools I think will be useful so I can buy one or two items each month. This month I've ordered a strop and compound, I've already got sharpening stones and have been sharpening everything I can lay my hands on, and finishing them up with some autosol on a piece of denim.

I am really struggling with cleanly cutting out so want to work on that, I'm happy with curved corners using a coin, but I seem to have too many ragged edges elsewhere. I also want to work on my edges, I'm currently using water and a wooden edge burnisher finished with beeswax but I'm not getting a result I am happy with. I  don't have access to any machinery so everything needs to be done by hand (although I like the look of the sanding/burnishing wheels I've seen people using). 

Next, I want to dip my toe into the world of dying but I'm happy to put that off for a while until I'm happier with my construction skills.

Well, I am well and truly guilty of rambling here. Right, I'm off to youtube a bit more. 

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On the matter of edges; 

First. Make sure your blade is really sharp. Put in a new blade, or snap off a section for every project. Cut on a smooth surface. Cutting on an old board will not give a smooth cut. Get something like a piece of MDF, hardboard or self-healing cutting mat.

2nd. get some 'sand' paper of various grades from about 80 to 800. Each sheet should cost about 60p. Do not get the cheap packs out of PoundWorld, they shed the sand more than they actually work. Get Wet & Dry type out of a car accessory shop, maybe Halfords.  Grades; 80, 120, 240, 320, 400, 600, 800

Use the W&D paper to smooth the edges after cutting. The roughest grade can be used to smooth away cutting line wobbles, the smoothest grade will get rid of those wee bits of fibres which tend to stick out. Get a cork sanding block out of Home Base. They cost £1.50. Its use in leather work is manifold. Here it can be used to sand a better edge by wrapping the W&D around it. Using W&D in your fingers won't really smooth out any cut line wobbles

3. I use beeswax and neetsfoot oil (aka NFO) mix on my edges. As a starter; get yourself some 'clear' shoe polish in Tesco/Asda and use that to burnish into your edges. Later you can mix some beeswax and olive oil or NFO as an edge burnish. Also use a piece of linen, calico or denim to rub the shoe polish or wax into the edge first. Rub very hard and fast, the friction builds up heat which helps melt the wax into the edge

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You usually dye plain vegetable tanned leather. FIEBINGS is the best known range of dyes & finishes; solvent based has a better penetration than water based. AFAIK their professional/oil/spirit dyes are just variations on the same thing, though I'm willing to be corrected on that

There are so many variations on edge finishing and burnishing. After the straight cut edge I use an edge beveller; then abrasive paper; then apply gum tragacanth & burnish; then Fiebings Edge Kote & burnish

You can burnish by hand, either with a 'slipper type' or a 'carrot type' burnisher; you'll know what I mean when you see them. I've also heard of people using a piece of antler or a suitably shaped plastic screwdriver handle

You've ordered a strop? If you ever need another one try making your own from oddments of wood & leather, there is advice on this forum and YT. It's one of the easiest pieces of leatherwork you can do

Cutting? There are so many knives available, and some of them are rather expensive. Have a look at the supplier's websites, and as you watch videos you'll see the different types. You can do a lot of good work with a Stanley knife, you probably have one already. The key is to be razor sharp, and keep it exclusively for leatherwork

A metal straight edge or safety ruler will keep your lines straight; Search & Surf; the MAUN is cheap and does the job

Most suppliers will be happy enough to advise you, and a phone call is better than an email. I have visited, and phoned IDENTITY LEATHER in Matlock and they are pleasant & helpful

The proofing I suggested is OK for things like sheaths and bushcraft pouches, but when you move on to anything posher like a wallet or briefcase you might want a better finish, so ask again on this forum or a supplier

As if you haven't got enough to do, there are videos on making dog leads & collars on YT. JH LEATHER is good, and on other things as well

Ah, I've just noticed you say you already have a burnisher. They get better after you've used them for a while and broken them in. Same with a strop. When it turns black you know it's working because that's the steel that's being removed from the blade

Edited by zuludog

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On 6/23/2019 at 11:53 AM, Allotment17 said:

First of all, thank you for a friendly welcome to the forum and for some great advice and thank you to Fredk for all your help.

I've spent hours and hours and hours reading and watching and trying to familiarise myself with leather, leather tools and leatherwork and I'm ready to buy my first piece of leather. I've visited Le Prevo, AA Crack and Abbey England websites and have to say that I am feeling overwhelmed by the choices out there. I'm very nervous about purchasing without seeing (visiting to look is not on the cards at the moment) and I don't want to waste money on something I cannot/don't want to use. 

My aim for the leather is something to use for practice mainly. I learn by 'what happens if I do that'. I'm hoping that my practicing can be used to produce something myself and family can use. So far I've made a very basic pouch and several various key fobs. So I think I need plain veg tanned leather which I can practice cutting, edging, punching, stamping and sewing with.

I've looked at Le Prevo but I don't know enough to choose from them. AA Crack is bewildering to me. I felt a bit more comfortable at Abbey's website and, if left to my own devices I would order the following, however, as I know nothing (comparatively), I would appreciate some advice as to whether I am on the right track (or not). I was thinking of the 1.8 to 2 mm or 2 to 2.5 mm.

https://www.abbeyengland.com/tooling-shoulder-9727.html

Many thanks. 

Clare

You don't say where you are Clare. I can only hope you're within reach of North London because that's where you'll find

J T Batchelor

9-10 Culford Mews
London Greater London N1 4DZ
United Kingdom

02072542962

They don't bother with a website. As a newbie myself I can only say what a treat it is to browse in a Victorian warehouse shop with racks of all types of leather, tools, finishes and racks of dusty boxes filled with rivets, snaps, buckles etc etc. I'm always looking for an excuse to travel the 35 miles

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Got cut off somehow. Just wanted to say I daresay they will post, give them a ring. They're usually busy but always helpful.

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