How To Start Leather Crafting

Leather crafting is the practice of utilising leather to be made into craft objects through shaping or colouring techniques. Looking online, the various terminologies and tools available may seem daunting to a beginner: stamping, lasering, dyeing, perforating…. Luckily, leathercrafting is a relatively easy trade to get into and with the proper guide, you can yield amazing results too! So if you have been looking to pick up the meticulous art of crafting leather, then you have come to the right guide to get you started. Let’s get into it!

Step 1: Knowing your tools

Round knives, rotary cutters, diamond chisels and edge … burnishers…? While these tools may look as complex as they sound, you can master these tools by mapping each of them to their supposed function and it will clear up all your doubts! In fact, knowing these tools is already half the battle won! For a more in depth guide on tools and their uses, click on our article on Introduction To Leather Crafting. It is worth noting that while the tools essential to leathercrafting may seem slightly pricey, these will be pivotal in ensuring the quality of your workpieces. 

Step 2: Finding your interest 

After understanding your tools, the next logical step will be to explore what you want to create. Knowing what you are interested in creating will expedite your creative process as this leaves you with only one project to focus your time and energy on. Finding something that appeals to your interest will also help you ascertain your budding passion for leathercraft before investing money into its tools and materials. Simple projects that could be part of your choices could be key fobs, cardholders, knife sheaths, wrist cuffs, bracelets…. The possibilities are endless! 

Step 3: Purchasing your materials and tools 

Now with a knowledge of what your tools are, how to use them, and an idea of what you wish to achieve, you are one step closer towards mastery of leathercraft! The next step to start is to finally purchase your equipment as well as the specific type of leather you will be working on. 

The most basic and common type of leather for the layman would be the veg-tan (vegetable-tanning + animal hide), which typically comes in an unfinished, undyed stage. However, due to the unprocessed state, this grants beginners the freedom to dye it to their desired colour, or to stamp, tool and sew the leather. This creative freedom combined with its price point makes it an easy first purchase for beginners of leathercraft. Veg-tan upon completion will also be very stiff but gradually softens with use, partly the reason why it is so popular. 

Another type of leather commonly purchased is chrome-tan leather which is another top quality leather that is slightly less expensive compared to its vegetable counterpart. Chrome-tan leathers are also known as “Garment leather” when treated with softeners to achieve a texture that is less harsh. There are many types of leather textures out there suited for different uses that we can’t possibly finish covering so these are the more common ones. 

In purchasing leather, one can easily be confused by the terminologies involved. It is worth noting that while leather is usually sold by “weight”, it isn’t so much in the sense of how many grams it weighs but rather how thick the leather is. Hence, leather typically goes by ounces (oz), with the smaller scaled leather pieces ranging from 2-12oz and the larger ones up to 14oz. 

Step 4: Getting started

With the necessary tools, knowledge required and essential materials, sit down and let your creative juices flow! Remember, leather crafting is a journey of trial and error and if you make mistakes it’s ok because that’s what makes leather crafting such a unique experience! Every piece of handcrafted leather piece tells its unique story regardless of its texture, colour or shape. So, what is your story? 

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