Leather Work Tips

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Leather Work Tips

By: Jake Berlin

For leather work, consider the basics: an awl and spare point, a retractable X-acto knife and spare blades, a retractable knife with a break-off blade and a rotary punch. In addition, you'll need needles, a lump of beeswax and some waxed linen thread.

As well, a pair of pliers to pull the needle through the leather is a must, and scissors you can use for cutting the leather. Then there are edge slickers and bevellers that are used to finish the edges, drive punches for bigger holes and thong cutters for making laces. A T-square, compass and yardstick are essential to ensure that your leather work is measured accurately.

If you're just starting out with leather work, you might not want to spend a lot of money on tools. Once you've worked with the basic set and completed a few projects, you'll have a better idea of what tools work best and what you use most. At that point, a little research and some comparative shopping can lead you to acquiring some better quality tools that will enhance your leather work.

Of course, even the most expensive tools won't help if you haven't taken the time to develop and perfect your craft. If you do your very best with what you have, it doesn't matter if you can't afford the most expensive awl or the latest knife. Quality will show anyway.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Start with a basic tool set.

  • Buy better quality tools once you've completed some projects and have a better idea of what will enhance the quality of your leather work.

  • Study the various types of leather before starting.

Tooling Leather

There are many different types of leather available, some better than others, depending upon the project you have in mind. Vegetable-tanned leather, also called tooling leather, has been processed using vegetable dyes rather than chemicals. It's usually flesh-colored and is excellent for a variety of projects, especially if the top is to be stamped or tooled. Because it has a relatively rigid structure, this type of leather is ideal for leather work items like book covers and belts.


Oil-tanned leather, also called latigo, unlike other leathers, has a waxy surface and is ideal for leather work projects where durability and flexibility are a must, such as for tack and saddles. Avoid using it though if you don't want the finished product to have stretch and flexibility, such as in dog collars. Bear in mind also that it can't be tooled or stamped.

Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather has one smooth side, called grain, which is the skin side, and a rough inner side, the flesh side. Either side can be used, rough or smooth.

Chrome-Tanned Leather

Chrome-tanned leather is dyed with modern chemicals such as chromium and comes in a variety of colors, is often white on one side, though the cut edges can be a different color than the facing. It's relatively inexpensive, but not very breathable, and can't be tooled or stamped because it's too soft for leather work and it's waterproof

Weight of Leather

Leather thickness is given in ounces. The heavier the weight, the thicker the leather is. Calf or goat skin is generally 2 ounces or 1/32 inch thick. One ounce is 1/64th of an inch thick. On the other end of the scale, 8 ounce leather is usually 1/8 inch thick.


  • Tooling leather is the best choice for most leather work projects.

  • Latigo leather is great for durables like tack and saddles.

  • Choose suede and garment leather when making clothing.

  • The heavier the weight of leather, the thicker it is.

  • When ordering leather through the mail, try some sample swatches first.

  • Keep your leather soft and supple with the proper oil.

About The Author

Jake Berlin

* - Hey! Need To Know More About Leather? ***

Here's How to Get Your Answeres Quick and Easy

Click Here http://www.leathersecrets.com


Paul V 04.03.2008. 21:39

My Snapper snow thrower has worn down auger tips. Can I replace them? I am referring to the rubber/leather tip. The tip appears to be rivited on.

Paul V

Admin 04.03.2008. 21:39

try going to snapper's website, if you have the model number you might be able to order the part straight from them


Sylvan 06.11.2010. 11:00

Leather Corner Sofa Cleaning - How do you Clean & Get Rid of Bad Smell from a Leather Corner Sofa? I need an overview about leather furniture cleaning products and leather care tips. I'm also keen to restore some of the old leather sofas that have been lying around the house for years. I'm sure something can be done about them.


Admin 06.11.2010. 11:00

First up (for me) how much I spend on cleaning a leather corner sofa depends on its cost and quality of leather used. E.g., if it's a high-priced sofa, I use a manufacturer-recommended leather cleaning & protection kit so that the durability and shine of the leather is maintained.

Stains are best removed as soon as you get them on the sofa (before dust, grime or oil make a mess of it). When you're dealing with liquid spills, use a dry cloth to soak up the liquid first. Then dab the stain and use a moist cloth (dipped in warm water) to rub it off the sofa. Any stains that still remain can be removed with a neutral detergent or saddle soap meant for leather.

Avoid using too much water as it dries the leather and leaves cracks that are an eyesore. Never place your leather corner sofa in direct sunlight as it can ruin the leather and also cause cracks.

If you need to use ammonia + water to get rid of bad leather smell, make sure you leave the sofa to dry in a well-ventilated area (never in heat or direct sunlight). Once dry, use a leather conditioner to give it a brand new look.


Aaron 27.11.2011. 06:14

Leather Corner Sofa Cleaning - How do you Clean & Get Rid of Bad Smell from a Leather Corner Sofa? I need an overview about leather furniture cleaning products and leather care tips. I'm also keen to restore some of the old leather sofas that have been lying around the house for years. I'm sure something can be done about them.


Admin 27.11.2011. 06:14

Here You can find some information:


Lawrence 03.04.2013. 23:21

What is the best cue tip for cue ball control or response? What type of leather, laminated tip etc? Hard or soft tips? Do they really make a lot of difference?


Admin 03.04.2013. 23:21

Trickshottim is right, However I would still say using a blue diamond tip is best for all around feel and control..


terryschopshop 18.12.2007. 21:55

Getting baked bean stains out of leather? After filming myself chopping a can of beans in half with my axe (I was making a video for my blog), I can't get the stains out of my leather gear. Does anyone have any handy leather cleaning tips? This outfit cost me a fortune. Thanks!


Admin 18.12.2007. 21:55

If the outfit was expensive then I wouldn't try doing it myself. Try a dry cleaner. If they can't clean the leather then take it to a shoe repair shop - they usually do leather work, too. Also, upholstry or furniture stores can probably help.


goldenchild2 14.06.2008. 02:10

can someone give me care tips for a chocolate leather sofa? this is the first time i''ve purchased leather furniture and don't konw the first thing about caring for a leather sofa.Tips for keeping it clean,also tips for keeping it from cracking. It's a really expensive sofa.Thanks


Admin 14.06.2008. 02:10

You really do need to look after your leather correctly to keep it in good condition.

Using household products and 'old wives' remedies are very short sighted when it comes to cleaning and caring for leather and can become very costly in the long run as problems they generally cause will be costly to put right. (although it does keep people like ourselves busy as we rush round fixing problems caused by using the wrong things!!!)

You need to use a good quality water based foam leather cleaner. (LTT Leather Shampoo) With light coloured leather dye transfer from clothing can be a problem although using a good quality leather protector (LTT Leather Protect) will help inhibit this. For dye transfer and ingrained dirt you may need a much stronger cleaner like Maxi Cleaner (this should be used with caution)

DO NOT use anything containing oils, waxes or silicones. (Most 'conditioners' contain waxes or oils) and furniture polish (pledge) contains silicones which will eventually destroy the finish on the leather. Most car cleaners also contain oils or waxes so should not be used as they leave residues on the surface of the leather which attract more dirt which eventually leads to cracking.

BABY WIPES are the worst thing you can use as they will destroy the finish on your leather. This has been verified and proved to be the case. They are actually a very strong product and this is why they break down the finish. Leather is not like skin and should not be treated as such.

Saddle soap should never be usd on upholstery leather or garments it is meant for saddles which are very different from todays finished leathers.

A lot of leather wipes contain chemicals which will also destroy the finish or leave residues on the leather which will damage it. They are not cheap in the long run as you would need a lot to clean. A bottle of foam cleaner should do your car about 3-4 times.

Fairy liquid contains more salt these days to get dishes clean and this will break the finish down on your leather. This has been verified by the manufacturers (as with the baby wipes).

Magic Erasers should not be used unless you are going to renew the finish on you r leather. We have tested these recently and they sand away the top finish on the leather.

You should also follow cleaning with a good water based leather protector which will act like a 'scotchgard' and inhibit dirt and stains from being absorbed and make cleaning easier the next time. Conditioners are totally unnecessary and only a product push by manufacturers.

Dry leather needs rehydrating with water and oils and waxes should not be used as the natural oils do not dry out of leather. Wiping over with a damp cloth regularly will help to do this.

It is important to maintain a regular cleaning regime cleaning dirt off the surface regularly and inhibiting the absorption of body oils into the leather with a protector is the best way of doing this. The only 'moisturizer' a leather needs is from water.

The alternative is a brand new product on the market called Lazy Leather. This is the latest technology in cleaning and combines an effective cleaner with a protector. It is quick and easy to use and should be used as a maintenance product once your suite has been cleaned or from new if you have just bought it.

Using incorrect care products is usually the cause of deterioration in the leather as unfortunately most car care products contain waxes and oils or silicones which do not do the leather any good.

Download a free leather care leaflet here:


Leather care consultants to the furniture and cleaning industries
Professional knowledge
Training school for leather cleaners and repair technicians


Styit 29.12.2011. 15:09

What to wear with a dark brown motocross leather jacket? Hello, guys!
I'm new to leather jackets and not sure what is trendy right now...
Jeans and polo are OK I guess? What about a shirt? And should the shoes be made from leather?
Any tips are highly appreciated.


Admin 29.12.2011. 15:09

You sound like an adult so straight leg medium rinse jeans or khaki pants with a medium or dark colored tee like royal blue, forest green, red, or gold would look good with your brown jacket. I think a darker shade of brown shoes would look good, too.

All warmer colors like browns, golds, orangey reds etc. or trendy right now. Good luck!! : }


Shannon 02.05.2010. 01:54

I have a piece of clothing that is cotton but has leather trim on it. How do I wash it without ruining it? The dry cleaner says to hand wash it, but I think that will ruin the leather. Any tips?


Em 23.07.2009. 17:48

How do I clean the leather on my show halter? Well, i got the silver cleaned! now i just have to get the leather cleaned... it is a light colored halter and i don't want to get it discolored. I have lexol and saddle soap. will these harm my leather? any tips? Thanks!
i forgot to mention that when i was cleaning the silver one of the silver plates popped up! what is the best way to glue this down or get it down? my show is on saturday!!!!!!


Admin 23.07.2009. 17:48

Use the best quality saddle soap you can get. Oil it with pure neatsfoot oil, not the compound as it contains tallow and can turn rancid.

To test to see if the oil will darken the leather, use it on the underside of the leather and let it dry thoroughly.

I am assuming that the silver is set into the leather with either screws or rivets. Better quality silver is usually screw on, make sure all the screws are tight. If it is an end that is bent up, gently bend it back in place. If you cannot bend it with you hands, get a towel and fold it over several times and using a wood or rawhide mallet GENTLY tap the piece back down.

Make sure when you store your halter it is hung up correctly to prevent bending of the silver.


mickeys12 30.12.2008. 20:09

should I place show taps on the tips of my shoes? I have a nice pair of leather shoes, the bottoms are leather at the tips. I was told to place metal tips on them, is that a good idea?


Admin 30.12.2008. 20:09

you can get plastic rather than metal ones, i think that would be better


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