Like all other craft work, there is a large number of people who are keenly interested in becoming a leatherworker. Whether you’re interested in making a leather wallet, jewelry making, or just learning the delicate intricacies of this detailed craft, you will be in good company with artisans who have worked with leather over the centuries.
To work with leather, one must have a bit of creative potential, especially when crafting items that will have that rugged, durable quality that all people want. So, if you’re interested in learning how to start leather working, you’ll find that it’s not very difficult. However, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you launch yourself full force into this venture.
Decide on the Type of Project
Leather can be made into a wide range of products, so it can be difficult to know just where to jump in. With each type of leather crafting there are different techniques you will have to master. If you don’t decide early on what you want to do, you’ll find yourself jumping from one technique to another, and never really accomplish mastering any one skill. Knowing the kind of projects you want to work on will also help you to know which tools to invest in to get started.
Gather Your Tools
One of the neat things about working with leather is that you don’t have to know a lot to get started. Starting leatherwork can be done with just a few basic tools. You can always add more to your arsenal as you master more skills. At the very least, you need to have a needle and thread, a sharp knife, cutting board, stitching pony, a hole-puncher, and a spacer. These will make it possible for you to try your hand at some simple and basic projects while you perfect your skills.
While you might seriously have your eye on making a nice leather coat for the winter, it is probably best to start with a simple project, like a belt or another everyday accessory. Belts are great starter projects because they are pretty basic in design and don’t require you to know any of the fancier stitching that more complex projects will require.
Your next project could include a few more complex skills. For example, if you make a phone case, it will require you to master the skill of cutting, gluing, and stitching the leather together. These make great gifts and are relatively easy to do, but they will allow you to fine tune your skills even further.
Once you’ve collected your tools, and decided on your project, the next step is to master a few basic skills.
Learn How to Cut
No matter what project you plan to make, you will have to cut your leather. Start by tracing an outline onto the inside of the leather. Make sure you use a ruler or an awl to mark exactly where you want to cut. Once the outline of the project is traced out carefully, use your sharp knife to cut into the material. Leather is tough, so get a firm grip and use a little pressure so that it doesn’t slip.
Next you want to glue your pieces together. You can use sandpaper to smooth out the area where you will apply the glue. This will ensure that the two pieces will adhere well. Put the glue in a straight line along the edges you want to sew together and then use binder clips or clamps to hold them together until the glue dries.
When the glue is dried, you will stitch the pieces together. In most projects, you will need to learn the saddle stitch, the most commonly used stitch for leather work.
Finally, you will finish off your project so that it has that sophisticated look of a quality leather piece. This could include trimming ragged edges with scissors, removing the fuzzy texture that may be sticking out over the edges, and rubbing Gum Tragacanth on the edges to give it that soft luster, and then applying a sealant to ensure that it will last a long time.
When all that is done, you’re in business. Getting into leather may seem like a challenging project, but it is really very simple. Even first timers can produce a quality leather piece that people will admire. So, if you’re seriously interested in how to get started in leatherworking, try these simple steps and you’ll be onto your new hobby in no time.