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Hi. I was just thinking lately about how interests can change with time and, as a empty nester, how has that changed my interests in life. I'm 62 and wanting to devote much more time now to my leather work. Am I getting into this wonderful craft too late? No interest in a brick and mortar shop but, if all goes well, etsy? leather work is an amazing craft. Anyone out there getting started later in life? Thanks all. Any responses appreciated. Best to you and be safe.

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i have done a bit of leatherwork all throughout my life but as i retired i started doing it more to add a bit of cash to the sugar bowl. I'm 62 also and no its not to late to start at all friend.

Good luck!!

 

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I also belong to the "59" club. I started in the 7th grade , but life fills time, and only in the last 6-7 years have I really gotten serious in the craft. I think as we age that appreciation factor greatly increases. I believe you are at a perfect time in your life to do well . 

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I first got interested in leather work when I was in Junior High. I would have been about 12 years old. I made a number of different items, using home-made tools I cobbled together from nails and bits of scrap metal. I still have one of them, a knife sheath. 

We had a Radio Shack/Tandy store at a mall not to far from our home, My parents tried to encourage my interest, but had no idea how to go about it. They bought me a piece of chrome tanned leather, but there were no tools to go with it, and no instructions. I had no idea what to do with it. It was too small to make a pair of moccasins, and too thick for a wallet or change purse. Eventually I gave it away.

Around 2010, I started working with dogs in a big way, and decided I wanted to know how to make dog leashes and collars. An employee at the local Tandy's showed me a beginner's kit, and told me about their 8 weeks of free classes. It was instant love.

My biggest regret is that my parents hadn't bought me that beginners kit. I would have gotten involved in the hobby at a time when Al Stohlman was still alive, and probably actually met him in person. I've heard he was an excellent teacher, and a great inspiration to many people. Leatherworking might have become a career rather than a hobby for my retirement years!

Here's that knife sheath! I still remember how sore my fingers got trying to do a saddle stitch with hand sewing needles! I think I did have an awl, which helped a bit. I also made the knife handle, but some idjit left it sitting on top of a red-hot woodstove, and it got burned. :(

 

leatherwork project knife.jpg

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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13 minutes ago, Sheilajeanne said:

I first got interested in leather work when I was in Junior High. I would have been about 12 years old. I made a number of different items, using home-made tools I cobbled together from nails and bits of scrap metal. I still have one of them, a knife sheath.

.... 

Here's that knife sheath! I still remember how sore my fingers got trying to do a saddle stitch with hand sewing needles! I think I did have an awl, which helped a bit. I also made the knife handle, but some idjit left it sitting on top of a red-hot woodstove, and it got burned. :(

I am astounded to see the knife sheath and knife still around, after years of use and abuse!  I still have the luggage tag I made from a kit during 7th grade shop, back in 77-78, with some pretty bad attempt at floral tooling. 
I think that the emphasis on western floral was too soon, so that in my mind leatherwork equaled floral tooling, which I didn't find appealing. 

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Well, I don't use it much anymore since the handle got burned. I am afraid it will fall apart. :(  I made the handle because I was doing a lot of whittling/wood carving during those years, and got sick of doctoring the blisters the standard jack knife handles raised on my fingers!

The blade is a very good one - German Solingen (sp?) steel!

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Never had any thought of leather work apart from making one knife sheath whilst in the Royal Navy in the 1960's. started from fresh three years ago when i retired, watched mega video's on YouTube and Nigel's , now doing the odd belt or wallet and a few chrome leather ladies handbags, presently at 74 going on 75  and discovered on the way i am crap at tooling and doubt will ever be any better, but that's life can't be good at everything

Edited by chrisash

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I honestly don't remember exactly when I began.  Maybe a sign of getting old!  But around age 50 +/-

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Who knows how or why people choose hobbies & interests? Why does one person make model ships; another collect stamps; another go soapbox cart racing; or someone else is very keen on opera and the theatre?

My father in law was having a tidy out, and offered me an old knife.....a Mora; rusty, the sheath was ragged, and being a Scandinavian style it didn't have finger guard, which I didn't like.

 I mentioned this to a colleague at work, who went shooting and did other outdoor stuff; he suggested that I could fit a new handle, and gave me a catalogue of an outdoor accessories supplier, which included knife making. This looked an interesting idea, and I found the British Blades Forum, since closed down

I realised I would have to make a new sheath, but had no idea of how to do it, and I was till working, so didn't have much time, though I did collect a hawthorn branch, already fallen, on one of my hiking trips

A couple of years later I took early retirement at 61, and started on the knife by fitting a new handle......got a leathercraft book from the library, which was very helpful.......bought a starter kit from Tandy when they still had a store in UK, and found a day long sheath making course at The Identity Store, since changed their name to Identity Leathercraft. The course was good, much better then just learning from YouTube

After that it was a case of improving my skills, acquiring new tools, and so on. At first leatherwork was just a means to an end for making the sheaths, but I've become more interested, and make sheaths, belts & wallets  

I've combined the two hobbies, by making some of my own leatherworking knives, and other tools, and their sheaths

Edited by zuludog

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I started late 50 s with an interest in holsters and being left handed could not find or afford what I wanted. I have not made anything sellable but several quite useful items, some in hard to find styles. Most friends who see them can’t believe I am capable. I often make a nice (for me) item then try to tool it and get a lower quality result. I should probably just stick to plain leather. 

Edited by 327fed

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I started in 7th grade and did it off and on through Jr. High. Got an "apprenticeship" at a hippy leather shop in the late 60s. Did a lot of "fix it" for the guys in my Army unit. Started get more serious about 40 years ago. My son made a key fob for my mom about 25 yrs ago that she still uses and his daughter made her another one this last Christmas.  All together I've been at it for 55 yrs.

Edited by tsunkasapa

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15 hours ago, stelhrse said:

Am I getting into this wonderful craft too late?

No, not at all. Every day is a new day to learn something new , and age is no barrier  :) I think we'd love to see your work in the future. 

Its a long story , but I'll keep it short. I'm in my mid 50's now, and I started leather  a bit over 16 years ago.  Work was a bit thin where I live in the Central Wheatbelt Western Australia, I had a few odd jobs, but I ended up working as a 'rousy in  a shearing shed. The long days and lots of heavy work with sheep ........and  a painful hospital operation,  took its toll physically . So I tried my hand at leather. Never looked back. I've learnt so much , and I'm still learning. 

I wish you the very best  :)

HS

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It's never too late, well... I supposed the day we are put in the ground is the deadline...:P   :excuseme: too dark? 

I started leatherworking about a year or so ago at the age of 40. I am disabled and desperately needed something productive to do. My brother bought me a beginners tool kit and a few belt blanks. He was in need of a new belt and I was falling headfirst into a deep, dark depression. Finding purpose in creating pulled me out of that headspace and I started becoming creative again. I will continue to do this until my body gives out, my mind gives out or the money runs out.

Tip: Start small. Each step of the way requires a bit of practice, so begin with something simple to get a feel for it. Just don't wait to get started.

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On 7/26/2021 at 11:39 AM, stelhrse said:

Hi. I was just thinking lately about how interests can change with time and, as a empty nester, how has that changed my interests in life. I'm 62 and wanting to devote much more time now to my leather work. Am I getting into this wonderful craft too late? No interest in a brick and mortar shop but, if all goes well, etsy? leather work is an amazing craft. Anyone out there getting started later in life? Thanks all. Any responses appreciated. Best to you and be safe.

I started late in life due to health reasons. my passion is copper sculpting,  I am a plumber/ fitter/ boiler maker by trade and have spent years under a welding helmit breathing nasty fumes.  I can no longer be around fumes or grinding dust.  A close friend of mine gave me a belly and some needles that was about a year and a half ago.

some of my work

 

canoe.png

pianio.png

bracelet.png

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It's never too late to start something you will enjoy. 

I started in '76 after getting interested in SCA.  I learned on a few knife sheaths and went from there.  My other hobby at the time was USPSA pistol shooting and I made a bunch of holsters for myself and many of the local shooters.

I'm still making holsters and have branched out into wallets.  I had stopped for a number of years but Covid really brought me back, looking for something to do while stuck at home. A quick stop into a Tandy and I was hooked again.  

To the OP,

keep watching those videos there is a so much to learn and thanks to YouTube there are much easier ways to learn it.

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In public school at about 12 years of age, crafts class included a little bit of leather crafting. Enjoyed it, but no strong connection made.

Age 22, as a young police officer with a mortgage to pay and kids to feed, I started making holsters and accessories for myself. Others who worked with me saw what I was doing and started asking me to make things for them. That led to a little part-time sideline business for the following 35 years.

In 2007 and 2008 the US economy was circling the toilet bowl. My usual business had slowed considerably and I was looking for ways to add a little income. Started offering my holsters on-line, primarily on eBay. That led to requests for more products, and by 2008 I had my website up and running. I had to rent commercial space for production work and was soon working 7 days per week filling orders. By 2009 I had moved into larger quarters and hired a helper to assist with basic production work. Completing an average of 2000 orders per year for customers in all 50 US states and 33 other countries.

Ideas that had been percolating in my brain for years kept guiding me in new designs, primarily focused on improvements to earlier developments by others. Introduced several new lines that were well received on the market.

In 2015 I was just plain tired. 65 years old, arthritis, carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel, shoulder surgeries, cataract surgeries, the handwriting was on the wall. I could not continue doing the work. Stopped taking new orders, finished up everything pending, kept the shop open for warranty work only. Then a good family of leather workers (other product lines) stepped up and purchased my business, continuing the trade name and all of my designs.

Now I am a consultant, sharing ideas for products and production methods with the new owners. Comfortably retired and debt-free. Income from the sale covered our retirement home and funded the first few years of retirement. Now I can draw on my retirement funds and investment accounts to live pretty well.

It was a good ride. Best advice I can offer is to keep it manageable, always remember that it is a business and not a hobby, be careful what you commit to do, avoid debt like the plague, and be very careful about relying on any hired help (everyone wants a job and a paycheck, but very few seem willing to show up everyday, on time, do what they promised to do, or clean up after themselves). Your name and reputation goes with every product you sell, so you have to do it right and stand behind it.

Best regards.

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On 7/30/2021 at 4:19 AM, Lobo said:

It was a good ride. Best advice I can offer is to keep it manageable, always remember that it is a business and not a hobby, be careful what you commit to do, avoid debt like the plague, and be very careful about relying on any hired help (everyone wants a job and a paycheck, but very few seem willing to show up everyday, on time, do what they promised to do, or clean up after themselves). Your name and reputation goes with every product you sell, so you have to do it right and stand behind it.

Good advice.    Thank you!

I only started a couple of years ago and am 58 this week.   I don't think age has anything to do with starting a hobby.   It's more of a mind set that you CAN do something and that it's never too late to start.   If anything, like anything, a fun hobby is only limited by the imagination....and your fun-ding.   :yeah: 

 

 

Edited by JayEhl
to add my part

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