Filling your DIY Leather Project Toolbox

Leatherworkers are creative artisans, taking some of nature’s most unique elements and making them into some of man’s most beloved treasures. Leatherworking is a popular hobby whose cost and time spent is completely based on what you want to accomplish. With some planning and research, you can choose a project that fits your interest and pocketbook.

If you are considering creating something wet-molded or form-fitting, like a molded knife sheath or a holster, you will need to purchase a vegetable-tanned leather. It’s perfect for wet-molding and tooling. The size and thickness of your project determines what part of a hide you need. Thinner pieces of leather are more pliable and are ideal for small projects. As the need for durability increases, the required thickness required increases in ounces, especially for projects like the aforementioned knife sheath or holster.

YouTube guru Ian Atkinson is a leather making expert. His website is and the site, as well as his YouTube channel, shows off his work and many video tutorials on how to make leather projects. He suggests the following tools to add to your toolbox:

Cutting mats – Atkinson recommends buying two — one for buffing/dying and one for cutting

Knives – Head knife or retractable knife and a stunning knife (has a scalpel blade). Aside from the basic knifes, there is a large variety of knifes from which to choose: Round knives are coveted for their curved shape that gives high maneuverability and cutting power. Other specialty knives include the double head knife, bridle cutters knife (and a similar but smaller knife – the French pattern knife), paring knives and a shoemaker’s knife.

Metal ruler – A non-slip, safety ruler where you can put your fingers in the groove to protect them while you are cutting.

Hammer – He recommends a non-metal hammer, specifically a wooden or plastic mallet.

Glue – A contact adhesive

V-gauge – For cutting a channel into leather

Hole punches

Sewing tools – Just as with knives, there is a wide range of sewing tool options. Stitch groovers are a must, particularly an adjustable or parallel tool and a non-adjustable grooving tool, overstitch wheels, saddler’s needles, awl blade and handle, pliers and thread. You can buy linen or pre-waxed nylon thread. If you buy linen or another unwaxed thread, you must use solid beeswax to wax it.

Edge-finishing tools – edge bevellers, a plastic bone folder, an edge slicker, cloth, sandpaper.

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