You bought a mess of leather stamping tools for tooling leather tooling patterns.
What do all these tools for stamping leather do and where to use them?
This is a common challenge for us when we start tooling leather. We gather all the tools, a good mallet and some floral tooling patterns. Yet we are unclear of what some of tools are for or how to use them.
Other areas that I struggled with early on was the proper order to use the tools in. I found myself rambling through the patterns in a completely random fashion. This led to long tooling sessions that left me feeling a bit lost and confused.
If you are new to tooling leather tooling patterns, then you are going to find great value in this! Here you will find a 4 part video series that we created for our YouTube Channel. The series is called “How to Tool Floral Leather Tooling Patterns.”
Each video covers a certain number of stamping tools in the order that I use them in my work everyday. You will see how I use each tool for this particular tooling pattern. The use of many of these tools takes practice and sometimes requires a little trick to use and we go through this in the videos.
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:
-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! Continue reading →
For the entire month of February, I want to focus on floral design and tooling. Everything from drawing leather tooling patterns, carving them, and tooling them. I want to spend the time using our different platforms to help you improve your tooling and design.
So whether you are a seasoned leatherhead or a rookie, be ready to follow us into this deep subject. We will not have enough time in one month to cover it all. We won’t even have enough time to cover a quarter of the subject. But I hope to shed a little light on the subject and hope that you will find value in it.
Tooling isn’t something that you can just read one book about, watch one youtube video, or spend one weekend in a workshop and become a master at. Learning to draw leather tooling patterns and to tool them, takes practice and commitment to the idea that you will become a true life long student of the subject. Continue reading →
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.
I have had a lot of request for more videos on our YouTube channel that show projects from start to finish. This video shows the complete process of making a leather portfolio. These leather portfolios have been great projects for me over the years and they have so much room for customization.
Even during this age of digital organizers, cell phones and apps that help business stay on track, many people continue to use a legal pad and pens to conduct and keep track of daily activities. The other thing that keeps customers ordering these items is that they tend to catch a lot of eyes. Walk into a board meeting, have lunch with a client or have one of these on your console when showing properties to a home buyer and you are sure to start a conversation.
My goal with this post and video is to show my process and how I approach making a legal pad portfolio. There are many different ways to create these and many different styles and sizes, all of which accomplish the same end result. This video is simply the process that I have found that works best for me.
Many leatherheads make the claim that the swivel knife is the hardest tool in the leather shop to learn and master. I would agree with that statement, but I also believe that anyone can master it with the right amount dedication and practice.
When I say the word “practice,” I don’t mean practicing on the orders you have or faking it till you make it. I mean actual practice! This is not a tool that you will just bump along with and then one day it will magically become your magic wand of art.
This tool can make or break the final quality and beauty of your artwork. In order to start a project off in the right direction, take the time to put in the hours of practice with this tool. I recommend taking at least 15 minutes at the start of your day or at the end of your day to do nothing but play with the knife. You don’t have to layout a complex pattern in order to practice. Just grab a piece of scrap leather and go to carving and playing around. If you do this everyday for two weeks, I promise you will see improvement within your patterns that you carve.
The simple techniques in this latest video will get you comfortable with the fundamental elements that are required of you in virtually every pattern you will carve into leather. Give this video a look and try practicing them in your shop now.
Thanks so much and I hope you find this video useful and informative. Be sure to hit the subscribe button and if you have any questions or comments send us an email and I would be glad to help.
So your belt is tooled, dyed, painted and oiled. Now all we have to do is antique it and we are ready to line and stitch it! This is the point at which many craftsmen new to leatherwork will make a few mistakes. I hope that my process helps you to clear up this step. You certainly do not have to antique your belt but I feel like the antique really helps to make the tooling stand out and gives added tone and depth.
The first thing that most people new to leatherwork miss is that the belt must be sealed with a resist before applying the antique. Whether you are using the paste antique or the gel, a barrier is needed so that the overall color and tone of the belt is not changed. The antique is not meant to change the color of the leather, its main purpose is to fill any cuts, impressions, and background texture to highlight and shadow the depth of the tooling. This is why I get the final color of the belt with oil before this step; because once the belt is sealed I can’t get oil into the leather if I want it darker.
The resist I use, or sealer, is Feibings’ Tan-Kote Finish. This finish is not a lacquer finish like NeatLac or WyoSheen, which would lift a lot of any paint work off the belt. If you are finishing a belt that doesn’t have any paint applied then these finishes are great to use. But if the belt has a lot of paint then it’s best to stay away from these finishes and use the Tan-Kote. I apply a liberal amount of Tan-Kote on the belt and work to make sure it’s even and doesn’t have streaks. Now I let this dry really well, at least an hour or so.
Once the finish is dry, the belt is ready for the antique to be applied. I use square pads cut from scrap sheepskin to apply all my finishes… keep a pile of these cut so they are ready for any finishing task. I use the Feibings Antique Paste, and the color I prefer is the Dark Brown. They make a few different colors and they are all fantastic but the dark brown is my go to color for the look I prefer on my products. You can put a dollop of paste on a small square of plywood which allows you to wipe up as little or as much paste as you need with the sheepskin square during application. You want to apply the paste liberally to the belt and work it into the tooling in circular motions to be sure and get it into all the cracks and crevices being sure to not leave any areas missed by the antique. Do this to the entire belt. It will appear to onlookers that you have gone mad and you are ruining a perfectly good belt, but stay calm and keep working it around. Here is where differences vary, some say to leave it for a few minutes before cleaning… I say once you’re sure that it’s worked in well, then take a clean pad and begin wiping the excess paste off the belt. The goal here is to attempt to get as much of the paste off the belt as possible. You want to be somewhat gentle as to not burnish the grain of the leather but you want to clean it well with clean pads until you’re satisfied that you got it all. All that should be left is what is down in bevel lines, background texture, decorative cuts, etc.
My final step is to take a magic towel (This is a towel that is used to wipe hands after oiling, antiquing, cleaning machines, wiping knives after sharpening, spilling coffee, etc.) or any soft hand towel, and gently buff the belt to further polish any residual antique and revive any lost luster from the resist coat of finish. Don’t go crazy here, as previously mentioned, we don’t want to burnish the grain of the leather but we do want it clean of excess antique.
Now turn the belt over and look at the back… see that mess? If you would have lined the belt before the finish steps, then your belt liner would look like that… I don’t care how clean you think you can be, antique takes no prisoners.
This post is an excerpt from out eBooklet “Custom Belt Design and Layout” we posted a couple of weeks ago. We will soon have more of these eBooklets available walking you through the step and processes I use in the shop in creating our custom pieces. If you are interested in purchasing this eBooklet then click the link below and download a PDF copy today!
*I apologize for the lack of photos in this post… fast and furious this morning and Freddy is cracking the whip! I will try and snag some pics during my day and post them in a followup post!
If you tool leather for any length of time, you will find some pieces that seem to feel like your trying to carve into a piece of concrete. Nobody’s leather is perfect and every piece you pick up is different than the last…. Welcome to working with leather!
I have found that adding a little Murphy’s Oil Soap to your case water will help to lubricate the fibers and allow your swivel knife to glide through even tough leather a lot easier. As always, be sure your knife is sharp and strop it frequently.
Sometimes it’s the hard leather that produces the more elegant results, so try and relax and do your best… If leather tooling was easy everyone would be doing it.