I have been interested in leatherworking for a while, and was looking for good information on how to get started, what tools to get, how expensive it is etc... also I would be interested in talking to someone about making a gun belt and holster...
When I lived in KY, we would go to a man in the middle of nowhere to buy belts and things like that. He was quite an artist. I love leatherwork. Not many smells match the manliness of leather... I haven't ever tried it and don't have the means to right now but like Barz I look forward to watching this thread.
Aaron four tools that are invaluable if you're making holsters and sheaths.
1.) Overstitcher. I call it my stitching wheel. You roll it along your seam to make stitching marks so your stitching is even.
2.) Stitching or Lacing Pony. It's a specialized wooden clamp to hold your project in a good position for hand stitching.
3.) Sewing awl. Use it to make pilot holes for your stitching.
4.) Sewing Palm. After thirty stitches you'll wish you had one. They are a leather protective guard with a hard metal or plastic reinforcement to help push the needle through.
Another tool I use that is invaluable but not considered a leather working tool, is a Black & Decker Workmate. I don't have a workbench so made a work surface using hardwood plywood and put a 2x2 hardwood cleat on the bottom of it. I clamp it down in the Workmate and I get a good sized work surface. I also use it for my bullet reloading base.
Robert, unless you are going for a real rustic look you can use a small drill bit in a drill, 7/64", to make pilot holes if you use a heavy thread as in a holster. I get by without a sewing palm but use a pair of pliers if I run into a tight stitch such as when back stitching.
Your initial layout for tools will be pretty expensive. You are getting specific tools for working leather and they can be costly. Any way go to Tandy Leather website and you can get a general idea. ... I first started working with a nail, hammer,knife, and needle...Very primative but it worked. Look up mountain man supplies, and leather. If you buy it leather from Tandy It will get quite expensive.
I wouldn't even call myself an amateur leatherworking guy, but every now and then I'll go to a farm store and pick up a bag of scrap leather for a couple bucks and a sewing awl that has a wooden handle with waxed thread in it. In fact just last night I made 3 leatherman pouches for Christmas presents while I watched tv. Kind of fun, but some of the projects turn out pretty bad. ha ha ha I'd say start out with that and just play with it for a while to determine if you'd really like to get serious about it.
Your investment will vary with what projects you do. If you tool nice leather (carve & stamp) projects you'll need a heavy bench preferably with a small marble slab for a top surface, patterns tracing film, maybe a tracing stylus, carving knife, rawhide or synthetic mallet, beveling tools, shading tools, back ground tools, border tools, hole punches, edge bevelers, awls, lacing, needles, stitching thread, rubber cement, dyes, brushes, swabs, finishes and etc.
If you want quality untooled leather projects like sheaths, belts and holsters, you need something to cut out the pattern and suggest both heavy scissors or shears and razor type knife. Some others tools I would recommend are a hole punch set, rawhide mallet, edge beveler, stitching awl, skiver (to thin the strap ends), synthetic cutting board, thread for stitching, stitching needles, overstitching tool, and rubber cement, swabs and dyes and finishes. For a minimum you could get a border cutting tool or carving knife and a beveling tool. This would give you a defined border parallel to the leather edge.
Check around and see if there are any classes offered. 4-H groups and scouts do this so they may let you observe if you know a group leader. Do you have a saddle maker in your area? Check with a leather supply shop or even the library for a book or video if you need more info. I have never made any large projects but it takes patience for them! I have bought and inherited my setup and I can say it is spendy! Large investment for start up and when you go to buy large pieces of tooling leather and larger belt blanks. I don't care for the project kits with the leather included, it is not the best quality but will suffice. I am anal about stuff I build so take that into mind now that you read this. Most of what I learned was handed down to me by my father......cool huh! I went into some different areas so I had to do some reading (pre-internet) and picking guys brains that knew more. I have been doing amateur leatherwork since I was in Cub scouts and that is around 40 years now. If you want to make a holster and belt yourself, add me and message me and I'll give you some help.
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