How to Oil and Antique Tooled Leather Projects

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.

Antiquing video

Oiling leather

This is a Bonus Video to our Tooling Series videos that we created. In the tooling series, we walked you through my tooling process step by step showing the tools and techniques to accomplish this floral pattern.

If you haven’t seen those videos, CLICK HERE to a post we created on our blog with all four of those videos all in one location.

If you want to tool this pattern along with us, then CLICK HERE so that you can get your copy of the Free Pattern to print and use. There is also a link in the above mentioned blog post.

Thank you so much and be sure to hit that subscribe button!

Should I turn my hobby into a full time business and quit my job?

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.”

The Cost of Full Time

It’s easy to get excited about our businesses early on. We are making improvements on our skill level, product designs, and figuring out our pricing. With this, we are beginning to see some profits left at the end of the month.

If only we could put in more time. Then we would make that much more money. Heck, we have gotten the calculator out and figured the math on what we think we might make. We can’t fail! It’s a no-brainer!

The thing that we forget is all the other areas of a business that require resources when we decide to make it a full time gig.

It’s very easy to feel overconfident in our side hustles. But the thing we have to understand is that there is a ton of things that come with a “real job” that will no longer be there if we make the leap.

This goes farther than just health insurance, steady income, workman’s comp, vacation, and sick days.

When we take something we love, like leather craft, and try to force it to pay for our household, lifestyle, and kids college… the work takes on a whole new appearance to us. It may not happen right away, but it will happen.

Because at that moment, we have taken this thing that we love and put it up in a position of “it has to work.” This is a horrible way to treat the craft that we love.

If it fails to meet our needs, it can leave us struggling financially. Putting a strain on our family and lifestyle. This is a way to create a lot of resentment towards a skill that we once loved and admired.

Resentment Sucks…

I was in that type of a relationship with my beloved craft for a few years in my career.  I had taken something that I couldn’t get enough of and turned it into that one thing that I greatly wanted to quit doing.  I took time out of my schedule during those “dark” years to turn my focus towards trying to use my degree. I felt like I should get a “real job.”

I wanted so bad to come in “out of the cold.”

I smile now looking back on those days in my career, at how naive and immature I was. I look back and wonder what would give a 24 year old recent graduate the confidence to think that he knew the first thing about running a business. And more than that, I laugh thinking, “What was the banker thinking giving that kid a loan!”

Looking back I am glad that my wish to walk away wasn’t answered. Since that time in my life, I have worked on shifting the focus on the business. I have worked to create a business that I now love and plan to do till my ticket is called. But I also know that I could not have gotten to where I am now without the struggle that I went through.

But this is not to say that I would wish that type of timeline on anyone else. I had to experience that struggle and time in the shop’s history only because of the way I started it… unprepared, under trained and naive.

For what it’s worth…

So when a young craftsmen asks me when to take a side hustle or hobby toward a full time business, my answer is always …

If you are in a position in which you have a “real job” that pays for your bills, lifestyle and family, then don’t simply cast that aside so that you can live in your hobby everyday.

Don’t do that to your craft.

Use this season in your life to nurture your skills and craft. Spend time developing your product, honing your business skills, building your tribe of followers and laying the foundation. This will only strengthen your future business and save you the struggle that “is not” mandatory for success in this business.

You are in a unique position to be able to set your financial life on its own path through a full time career.

You can protect your precious leather craft business and keep it from the horrible chore of having to pay for your life. This gives it much better momentum to grow as well as your skill level.

“I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, “Big Magic” (amazon affiliate link for a great book I read last year)

When you get to the point of making the jump, it should be such an easy transition that your family and your finances are not changed at all. It should even be a financial raise for you.

Making the change in this way will make you smile when you look back years later. Your business will be stable and your craft will not be hindered at all with the stress, anxiety and resentment that comes with having to get a project done by Friday so you can get paid and make the light bill.

How to Tool Leather Tooling Patterns – Video #1

In this video series, we will show you the complete tooling of floral leather tooling patterns.  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:

-push beveler

-flower centers

-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 using this link, just enter your email address to confirm access to download a copy to use so that you can follow along with us!

How to make a Leather Moleskin Journal Cover

In this video, I show you how to make a leather Moleskin Journal Cover.  I am a HUGE fan of journals and notebooks… to the point that I probably have way too many in the shop.  I have to write everything down or I won’t remember it.

My favorite journals are made by Moleskin.  These journals come in many different sizes as well as types of paper.  This project video shows you how to make a leather cover for my favorite Moleskin notebook.  The exact name the one from Moleskin that I use is “Moleskine Classic Soft Cover Notebook” and the size is 5″ x 8.25″.  You can get this notebook from amazon by using my affiliate link by clicking here.

These notebook covers are a lot of fun to make and don’t take as much time as other projects.  They also make great gift ideas or products to offer to your customers.

In the video I mentioned our video on slicking edges on leather.  If you missed that video, be sure and check out our video on Slicking Edges.

The patterns for this project are available in a full Companion Pattern Pack that you can DOWNLOAD and print out on your printer.  The pattern pack includes all the cut patterns and lineup marks to help you quickly get into making one of these journal covers.  The pattern pack also includes 6 different floral tooling patterns to help you get started.  Here is the link to the pattern pack if you would like to purchase these:

Moleskin Notebook Companion Pack

*REMEMBER THAT ALL OF OUR PATTERN PACKS ARE INSTANT DOWNLOADS.  We do not mail these out to you, instead you will get an email with links to download and print them out immediately after purchasing.  No waiting on the Post Office!

I hope you enjoyed this video and be sure to check out our other videos.  We have many other project videos, tutorials and quick tips on our channel!  Be sure to Subscribe while your there too!

Sanding Tools for the Leather Shop

When it comes to getting the best possible edges in your work, sanding tools are one of the most important areas to focus on.  Without a well sanded edge on your leather project, you won’t be able to get the smooth finish you are looking for.  Even the best possible cut piece of leather still needs sanding on the edge to prepare the leather to be burnished.

There are many different ways to accomplish the same thing in leather work.  Sanding is no different.  There are antique line finishers, who’s sole purpose is to sand and burnish any leather edge to a high gloss finish… particularly on shoes and boots.  But these machines are heavy and take up a lot of room in a workshop.  There are cabinet finishers that take up much less room and do just as good of a job.  But finding one of these on the used market can be difficult… most folks won’t part with them.  There are even other “powered” machines used in other industries that can accomplish your sanding needs. Continue reading

How to Make a New Style Shave Kit

Last year around this time we created a project video for a shave kit.  That video was for what I call a “bear trap” style shave kit.  In this video I show how to make a new style shave kit.  I wanted a shave kit that wasn’t so big and bulky.  I also wanted one that could hang and this is what I came up with.

I don’t have a good name for this shave kit at this time.  I have just been calling it my “New Style.”  If you watch the video and have any suggestions on a cool name for it, let me know.

Did you try your hand at making the bear trap shave kit?  If you did and you enjoyed it, then this would be a great step up project.  This pattern isn’t extremely complicated, but it does have a few more challenging techniques in it. Continue reading

Top 5 Essential Tools for the Beginner in Leathercraft

Leathercraft can be intimidating to the uninitiated.  The tools for the beginner can be hard to decide upon and even more difficult to find.  Since leatherwork is not a common trade skill, many of these tools can not be purchased from local hardware stores.

In this article I hope to give you some assistance in this area.  If you are new to leathercraft and are searching for the most essential tools to add to your workbench, then my hopes are that this blog post is for you.

Here are the Top 5 tools that, I believe, are essential for anyone beginning their leathercraft journey.  No, these are not the tools you will need to accomplish all aspects of leatherwork.  The size and scope of tools for different areas of the craft are vast and almost never ending.  The majority of tools used in leatherwork are subject greatly to personal choice and preferences.  Instead, this is a list of 5 tools that I think are foundational in every aspect of your work.

These tools are simply the tools that a craftsman, at any level, will need on a daily basis to work in this medium.  Some of these tools will seem arbitrary and may already be in your collection.  But this does not lessen their importance.  If you have never worked with leather, then you may not be aware of the attributes of the material, and you will find that these will be the tools most helpful in all of your projects.  Or in the very least, the most used tools on your bench. Continue reading

Quick Tip on Leather Hole Punches

Leather hole punches are an absolute necessity in any leathercraft shop.  No matter the size of your hobby or business, hole punches are a must have. In this video, I give you my recommendations on style of hole punches that I like as well as sizes.  You don’t need to go out and invest a huge amount of money buying all the available sizes of hole punches.  I recommend, and use daily, three sizes and I will show you what those are and why.

The brand of tools in this video, both squeeze punches and drive punches, are all C.S. Osborne tools.


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How to Make a Clutch Wallet

In this video I show you how to make a clutch wallet.  These wallets are a great item for rookie leather craftsmen as well as the experienced.  There are many variations that can be made from this simple design.

I walk you through my entire process of creating one of these popular wallets.

These are great gift ideas for the woman in your life or to offer to your customers who are wanting to give that special everyday carry gift.

Continue reading