Finding the best Leathercraft work surface is a quest that I find myself still on today. I began my leather work career cutting leather out on my bed in my apartment and doing all my work on a 2×4 bench that I made to fit by my desk. My roommate wasn’t particularly excited about my late night basket stamping sessions. Fast forward to today, and some of my benches are much more nuanced when it comes to the Leathercraft work surface that I work on. Some of them are still hodge-podge assortments of materials that simply work… nothing more.
You can get lost in trying to find the absolute best material to work on. Different leather craft techniques and processes requiring different types of material to work on. The important thing here is to find something that works for you and go with it. When you are a famous leather craftsman someday you can worry about how pretty your work tables and benches are. For now, the only thing that matters is you being able to accomplish your work effectively.
In this video, I go through all of the different Leathercraft work surfaces that I use in my shop. Why I use them and for what purposes. These are the best materials that I have found for completing the different tasks in my work.
I did some research to find the company in San Antonio that made the plastic cutting board material on my cut bench. I did find a company, but since I have never done business with them I didn’t feel comfortable recommending them here. I will continue to research a good source for this material and when I find a reliable source I will update this video. I do suggest doing a google search in your area and I bet you can find someone near you that has this material in any size you may need.
In this video, I show you some tricks I have learned to easily edge leather straps and strips. Strips of leather that are wider don’t seem to be as challenging, but those that are narrow can be a problem. Sometimes even dangerous.
Having a sharp edger is the first step in getting the quality edges that you want to see in your work. But there are some things that you can do to make your job a lot easier.
The edger that I am using in this video is the #3 Ron’s Edger. I upgraded my old set of Osbourne edgers (which I used for many years) last year and I love them. If you are interested in trying some, give Aaron at Maker’s Leather Supply a call.
In this video series, I show you the complete tooling of a Cluster Flower Pattern. The goal of these videos is to show you my complete tooling process when stamping leather tooling patterns.
This video covers the following tools and the order that I use them in:
-flower center liner
-undercuts (4 different tool sizes- small to large)
-crowners (2 different tool sizes)
There is a FREE PDF for this pattern that you are welcome to download. If you would like that then Click Here. Just enter your email address to confirm access to download a copy to use so that you can follow along with us.
Are you under the impression that having multiple jobs or projects going at one time is more efficient for your leathercraft productivity than focusing on one one project at a time?
Have you been told and/or taught that it’s better to cut out all your jobs for the week or month at one time and get them all going?
Are you finding at the end of the week or that month that you haven’t finished anything? But you have 47 things started!
I use to be this way, and oftentimes still am. Truthfully, I still fight this battle everyday. For years we have been told that multitasking is a skill that the best and most efficient Craftsmen do. This is what makes them successful and productive.
Multitasking is not as efficient as people once thought.
“Highly successful people attribute success to the ability to focus on one specialized activity. They don’t rapidly switch around from one interest to another — they start a task and then they reliably follow through with it. Instead of just “getting it done,” they achieve mastery or create something truly complete.” -Article by Forbes Magazine in 2018 “Is Multitasking An Asset Or A Liability?”Continue reading →
When I started my leathercraft business, I really didn’t have a “Store Policy” on custom orders. At that time we were dealing with mostly local folks and I was pretty trusting of them.
Customers came into the store and wanted to get a belt made. I spent 30 minutes or so with them designing their belt. The question that followed was usually, “Do I pay now or when I pick it up?”
At the time, I was hungry for work and wanted to make a good impression on our new customer. I would reply with, “You can pay for it when you pick it up.”
This worked out well for the most part… For a while.
Eventually the items waiting for “pick up” began to grow and money tied up in finished products began increase. I soon realized that I had built many items using shop money that might not ever get picked up and paid for.
We then started taking a deposit of 50% of the job. This worked well to ensure that the customer would be back in the store to pick up their items. As well as to pay us the rest of the balance.
But this became somewhat difficult to handle from an accounting standpoint.
Over the years I have developed our store policy on custom orders into what works best for us. We take all the money up front on all custom orders.Continue reading →
Phone book ads, business cards, brochures, newspapers, and local radio. Fifteen years ago these were still the main components of a good marketing strategy for the leathercraft business to get the word out about their services.
When I began my business, I spent a substantial sum of money using marketing products just like these. The world of Likes, Comments, DM’s and Sharing photos to thousands of people with the tap and swipe on a piece of expensive glass was not yet a reality.
Facebook was just a place for college kids to connect and share funny anecdotes. Instagram wasn’t a thing yet. And twitter… well, twitter (if it was around) was still as confusing and useless as it is today.
The best option for connecting with our customers online during those days, was for them to happen onto our website and hopefully be able to navigate their way through the makeshift debris of photos and half written content. At best, they would be able to get our phone number to just give us a call.
Today we live in a hyper connected world where anyone has the ability to express an opinion, share a photo, or even share an hour long live video on how they prefer to assemble their peanut butter sandwich. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have become ingrained into the fabric of a great majority of the population for staying connected with friends, family and businesses. Continue reading →
In this video, I show you my oiling and antiquing process for tooled leather projects. The finish that I did on this piece is what we call a “Light Oil Antique” and it is one of our most popular finishes in the shop. We have created previous videos on antiquing and oiling, but this video dives in a little deeper.
Here are links to those two previous videos if you want to check those out. Continue reading →
One of the most common questions that I get asked from younger craftsmen is, “When should I turn my hobby into a full time business and quit my job?”
This is a question that I do not feel qualified to answer. Outside of college, I have never had a job.
This usually gets a chuckle in response… but it is the truth.
After I graduated from college I began doing contract work for the man I did my apprenticeship with.
I use the word apprenticeship without a complete understanding as to what a true “apprenticeship” might look like to others in the craft. But more on that in the future.
After some time he offered to sell me the shop and I began my dance with banks to make it happen.
Fifteen years later, years of trial and error, and piles of debt taken and paid off, here we set.
So when someone asks me if they should walk away from a secure career? Walk away from a steady paycheck? Maybe even walk away from health insurance, dental, not to mention their own parking spot… I say maybe not.
I once heard an ole boy say, closing his business and getting a job was like “coming in out of the cold.”Continue reading →