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TravisRising

Desperately need advice for quality hand tools!

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I'm at square one- watched a few videos. Decided that in addition to my life on the road bit off the back of my motorcycle, I'd like to supplement my income to some meager extent with some good ol' fashioned hand-tooled leather products.

 

I've had two of my own semi-professional crafting businesses, so I'm fairly adept when it to crafting and artistic expression. This is NOT a passing phase, but a practical decision based off of my love for hand making things, and what would be the most realistic crafting I can do from the back of a motorcycle.

 

I am in desperate need of advice for quality hand tools to get me started. I've looked on Amazon and a couple other places and all I can seem to find is junk or suppliers that are expensive, yet who I won't commit to for my general lack of leatherworking knowledge and what makes for trusted tools within the leatherworking community.

 

What would you say are the tools that are most trusted for leatherworking? I'm willing to do minimal tooling and stamping, but my primary concern is for QUALITY basics for now. 

 

Thank you kindly one and all for any help and direction that's provided. I'm eager to start this new journey in my ongoing journey!

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Such a vague question.  The more specific you are the better answer you will receive.

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simply put youre not going to find one brand of tool like craftsman or snap-on that have everything you need. some tools work for certain people and some dont and some are indeed junk. i dont tool leather will be of no help with those items.

what kind of products do you intend to make? do you want to make fine leather goods or saddle and tac ? these things will define what kind of tools you buy.

i spent alot of money on cheap tools and i actually still use some of them mostly my edge creaser and maul. theres also this brand "OWDEN" that makes decently priced tools and you can get them on amazon. i have a french skiver and edge beveler from them and they work excellent but you have to keep them sharp. Also "Wuta" makes affordable tools that are decent quality i have their french style pricking irons and theyre my goto for now.

maybe this video will help you if you havent already seen it.

good luck on your leather working journey :thumbsup:

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2 hours ago, TravisRising said:

I'm at square one- watched a few videos. Decided that in addition to my life on the road bit off the back of my motorcycle, I'd like to supplement my income to some meager extent with some good ol' fashioned hand-tooled leather products.

 

I've had two of my own semi-professional crafting businesses, so I'm fairly adept when it to crafting and artistic expression. This is NOT a passing phase, but a practical decision based off of my love for hand making things, and what would be the most realistic crafting I can do from the back of a motorcycle.

 

I am in desperate need of advice for quality hand tools to get me started. I've looked on Amazon and a couple other places and all I can seem to find is junk or suppliers that are expensive, yet who I won't commit to for my general lack of leatherworking knowledge and what makes for trusted tools within the leatherworking community.

 

What would you say are the tools that are most trusted for leatherworking? I'm willing to do minimal tooling and stamping, but my primary concern is for QUALITY basics for now. 

 

Thank you kindly one and all for any help and direction that's provided. I'm eager to start this new journey in my ongoing journey!

You mentioned you'd like to do tooling and for that, Barry King would be a good place to start.  While there, you can also check out his mauls and awls and swivel knives.  

https://www.barrykingtools.com/

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You may not need specific brand name tools for much of your work when starting out (except for specialty things like tooling and stamping).

Perhaps Ian Atkinson can help steer you in a useful direction. His YouTube channel has some excellent videos for beginners discussing what tools they actually need, most of which don't need to come from a leather supply store. 
Here is a partial playlist to his videos:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvoKYeh7ahyGB-numgnO3WxOVi3Sgkyzg

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14 hours ago, CastleLeatherWorks said:

simply put youre not going to find one brand of tool like craftsman or snap-on that have everything you need. some tools work for certain people and some dont and some are indeed junk. i dont tool leather will be of no help with those items.

what kind of products do you intend to make? do you want to make fine leather goods or saddle and tac ? these things will define what kind of tools you buy.

i spent alot of money on cheap tools and i actually still use some of them mostly my edge creaser and maul. theres also this brand "OWDEN" that makes decently priced tools and you can get them on amazon. i have a french skiver and edge beveler from them and they work excellent but you have to keep them sharp. Also "Wuta" makes affordable tools that are decent quality i have their french style pricking irons and theyre my goto for now.

maybe this video will help you if you havent already seen it.

good luck on your leather working journey :thumbsup:

I intend to make bushcrafting type carry pouches and sheaths. Axe handle guards, dump pouches, saw holders, sewing kit pouches, etc. I'll diversity from there depending on what I enjoy making the most, and what sells. I just need basic tools for now to whet my appetite. 

I appreciate the suggestions, truly. Eager to hear anything more you might have to offer.

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14 hours ago, mike02130 said:

Such a vague question.  The more specific you are the better answer you will receive.

I wasn't aware that my question was vague. How might I expound upon it? I simply need suggestions for quality beginner hand tools that won't fail on me and will have optimal edge retention and dependable construction appropriate to leather crafting. I'm not looking for specialty tools yet. Thanks for reaching out.

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The main problem we have is that there are good leatherworking tools out there and there is crap sold as good quality. Sorting the good from the bad really only comes with experience of buying them.  For honest-to-goodness quality you need to buy from the likes of Barry King. Some on here have got quality from a Japanese place. 

I've bought tools and have had a good experience of them whilst others on here have bought the same tools from the same seller and found the tools to be crap. Over 20 plus years I've bought and dumped a fair number of tools until I've finally found a quality tool.

Price does not always equal quality; eg I bought a French skive, a top make, cost me over £25, the metal was twisted and loose in a cracked handle. Back it went. I've bought two from China, expecting poor quality at £3.50 each. Both are excellent and hold an edge well.

Start with a Stanley knife for most cutting. Replace the blade for every new project. In time you could graduate to a half-moon round knife, from a top maker. I have a bird's-head knife but rarely use it.

Buy individual round and oval hole punches. Not a set of them, they are often poor quality, I've found that even highly priced sets aren't any good. Buy the punches as you need them. Buying individually, if you find one is rubbish you're only out the price of one

You'll need an awl, an edger, maybe a groover, a set of pricking irons or sewing hole chisels, a mallet - like the one in the photo is good, a slicker - the carrot shape is common but I mostly use a piece of beech wood with a groove in it, a skiver - the Super Skiver is good, and a beveller (Safety Beveller) is useful - both take the same blade, replace for every new project. (replace replaceable blades until you get good at stropping the blades), a set of wing-dividers, a scratch awl, a few basic design stamps - a wee bit of decoration looks good, a steel or aluminium straight edge or long ruler and a metal try-square - like a roofer's square

Who to buy these from for a beginner?

Buy from a place or someone who will take back their rubbish or will stand over their tools. Tandy is the first stop, but the quality of their tools can be hit-or-miss. As you are in USA I'll let your locals advise on other sellers that they know.

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As you are from the USA i suggest you have a look at C.S.Osborne.com they are a US company and make workman's tools

C.S. OSBORNE Industrial, Hand and Leather Tools

 

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If you are just going to be making the items you mentioned, I'd say a set of wing dividers, a good diamond awl (again, Barry King comes to mind, but there are others), a dinner fork can work in place of chisels/irons, a #1 or #2 edge beveler, a piece of antler for a slicker, and for the love of god...John James #2 needles. That will make everything you listed. When you can make them pretty with the aforementioned, you can add to your repertoire of tooly goodness.

All of those bushcrafty items can be a little thicker and clunkier so I don't know if you need a skiver.

And Weldwood or Barge cement. A good cemented welt is a beautiful thing.

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G'Day,  You could also consider second hand, books,  tools etc. 

 For tooling & stamping,   I started with a ' basic 7piece set' , that helped me learn. I then looked out for good S/H tools. I ended up with some  quality S/H  ' Craftool USA ' brand tools without blowing my budget , and it went from there, the more I learnt, the more engaged I became...and the better I got , only then, I decided to invest in some new quality tools.....16 years later.......:) 

You could spend a small fortune on quality tools but then later decide that leather work is not your preferred vocation, just a thought  :) 

HS

Edited by Handstitched

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Nobody has mentioned a stitching pony, which I consider essential. It's easy and cheap to make, if one has a workshop with the necessary bits and pieces lying around. Living on the road probably less so, and it'll take a lot of storage space...

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7 hours ago, TravisRising said:

I wasn't aware that my question was vague. How might I expound upon it? I simply need suggestions for quality beginner hand tools that won't fail on me and will have optimal edge retention and dependable construction appropriate to leather crafting. I'm not looking for specialty tools yet. Thanks for reaching out.

What is your definition of "quality beginner hand tools"?   What is your budget?  Are those something that are disposable or that will work okay or something of high quality that will last you forever?  

What one would use to make saddles, various sheaths and holsters would be different than what one would use to make wallets.  Narrow down what you want to make and that would narrow down the tool selection.  Do you want to use Japanese style chisels of European type?  Will you be using thick or thin leather or a combination of thicknesses?  Will you be using rivets or stitching or both?  What about hardware?  Are you going to use veg tanned leather or chrome tanned?  Will you be burnishing your edges or using edge paint? Are you competent at sharpening a knife?  That may direct you to the type of blade; fixed or disposable.  Will you be doing strap work and need hole punches, half round or English point punches?  Would you need a #1 or a #3 edger?  Will you be skiving leather with a knife or a French edger?  How about edge creasing?  Do you just want to have fun and make a few things or do you want to do serious work?  

Other than you doing a little bit of tooling and stamping, we know nothing.  What do you consider "specialty tools"?  I may sound like a dick but the more specific you are, the better the answers you may receive.  I wonder if you're getting ahead of yourself?  I suggest you invest 20 bucks and buy a few cheap tools--not a kit--and make something.  Show the work here for a critique and ask questions.  That would help narrow down that what you seek.  

 

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@Klara  Thats exactly what I did, made my own, 2 different  jaw sizes . I bought my first one,a bit ex$y I thought,  but then  soon realised how simple they are to make out of a few off cuts of wood  in my shed and a few screws with wing nuts. I put some pieces of leather on the tips to protect the projects. 

For larger  items, I use a saddlers clamp....that I got S/H from a clearing sale. 

@mike02130 Good quality   S/H leather tools etc.  can be found  , markets,  antique shops  etc. on-line , if people are prepared too put in some effort...and are patient  :)  It also helps to keep costs down if budget is tight  . 

HS

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I think whether one will be happy with second-hand tools depends on ones sharpening skills. And whereas I'm capable of keeping the edge on a new tool, at least for a while, I've found out with a handful of scissors from a thrift shop that a ruined edge is a very different thing.

Ian Atkinson, linked above, goes so far as to recommend tools with disposable blades for beginners. (Doesn't mention a stitching pony either, in his list of 25 indispensable tools, but a battery-powered thingy for zapping threads...)

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