Leather Handicraft

Leather Handicraft

How To Cut Leather

Leather is a very unique and useful product. If you are among the growing number of people dabbling in the art of leather production. There is a lot to know before you cut leather. It is not just about simply taking a pair of scissors and cutting like with other materials. It takes care and concern for the product as well as high quality tools to ensure that the edges are correct and do not end up looking uneven or jagged. Here is what you need to know before you decide to cut leather and the tools to help you do it properly.

The Importance of Good Quality Leather

Before you can begin to cut leather, you have to have it in your possession. Leathers are not all created equally. Some are of substandard quality and therefore can be purchased anywhere. There are also some that fall into the middle of the road category and will allow you to do many project with a durable material, but the best leather materials come from those that understand the art of leather working. Just any leather may not work for every project, so make sure that you get your leather from a reputable leather artisan. They can show you the different grades of leather and allow for more understanding of the product than simply trusting anyone selling leather pieces.

​Choose Your Knife Wisely

When you are learning how to cut leather you will have to overcome some obstacles. Just like choosing the proper leather for your project, you need to choose the best knife for the job as well. There are a number of choices, but the most important thing is the ensure that your knife have a good handle that fits your hand well and also one that is sharp and made of durable materials. The best place to get advice on the right type of knife is again with a known leather artisan. Investing in a good quality knife will allow for you to be able to do multiple projects without the fear of the blade or the handle breaking. An x-acto knife or a box cutter can work with some projects, but a specialized leather cutting tools is recommended.

Know What You Are Doing

With some craft and artisan projects, the artist can get by with winging their overall design. This means that you do not really have an idea of the design you are going for and you are simply going with your gut. When you cut leather, you do not want to work in this manner. Having a plan in mind is the only way to accomplish what you want to do. Leather can be quite expensive depending on the quality chosen and therefore winging your design can cause you to spend more on materials than needed. Patterns allow for you to have a plan in mind before simply cutting at the leather. The pattern can be laid over the leather so that you have an idea as to what and where you are going to cut.

​Where to Cut

Before you begin cutting on your dining room table or another expensive piece of equipment consider investing in a place to cut on. You may want to get a cutting board specifically for your leather cutting projects. Stay away from any cutting surface that is not smooth as the cutting surface could damage the leather before any cutting can begin. A self-healing mat is usually the best option because you are able to cut all the way through the piece of leather effectively and without dulling your knife. Some surfaces such as metal may allow for a smooth surface but the act of the blade going through the leather can cause the metal to either break or dull the blade thereby diminishing your ability to complete more projects. The surface you choose should be stable and easy to get to without being too short or too tall to work on.

​Case the Leather

Once you have chosen your leather, your work surface, and have your tools in order you have to prep the leather to be cut. This means casing the leather. Casing is a term that simply means that you are wetting the leather to ensure that it is easy to cut without causing the knife to slip. A casing solution can be purchased at reputable leather stores. Some people work with water as a casing solution, but water is not always a friend to all leathers. The casing solution is a mix of leather friendly chemicals that never strip away valuable oils, but instead enhance the strength of the leather and the durability so it can be cut easily.

​Cut Out the Piece

​The first step when cutting out your design is to cut out the main part. Some designs can be quite intricate and you may think that it is a better idea to start with the intricate pieces, but in all actuality, you will have a better chance of success if you cut out the main shape of the piece before working with the individual details. The piece can tear when some of the leather is already cut from the design. Always keep you pattern on your design and strait to ensure that it looks exactly like it should.

​Do Not Be Discouraged

​Working with leather is a true art form. You will not learn everything you need to know from one time cutting out your piece. It takes trial and error to get the technique right and therefore you may have a lot of pieces that you mess up on in the beginning, but with practice and patience, you will be cutting leather like a pro in no time.

​The best leather artisans take years to understand the complexity of the material they are working with and when in doubt, trust the experts. Do not be afraid to ask questions and for the best source of information trust us at. We are there for all your leather needs and have the information you need to make your leather projects all they can be. We know how to cut leather and we can help you as well.

Leather Handicraft

Leather Buying Guide For Leather Handicraft

If you are looking into leather working for either a career or as an enthusiastic hobbyist, then you need to have the proper leather for the projects. Understanding the variations between the grades of leather as well as understanding the different cuts of leather will help you greatly. However, picking the right leather for your handicraft can be a bit frustrating, especially if you are a novice to leather handcrafting. Here are a few things which every buyer should keep in mind when purchasing leather for handicrafts.

Determine the Type of leather you need

The type of leather that you use will delegate the results of your project. Typically the type of leather can be broken down into one of eight categories. These categories are bridle, chrome oil tanned, kipskin, latigo, natural vegetable tanned strap (tooling & molding leather), Shearlings & Sheepskins, suede, and upholstery. Belts are pretty diverse in in terms of the type of leather. Yet, boots are generally made of chrome oil tanned and paddings tend to be made of sheepskin. Have an understanding of the type of leathers and what their primary purposes are.

What thickness do you require?

Leather thickness is measured in ounces. For every ounce the product gains .015625 (1/64th) of an inch. While this may not seem to be a huge margin of difference, it does add up. If you were to pick a leather of only 1 oz it would equivalate to .40mm while picking a 15 ounce leather would equal 15mm. That is quite a difference. When choosing your leather thickness keep in mind that belts and high durability leathers tend to stay around 8 ounces while luxury leathers (apart from shoes) tend to range from 2 to 5 ounces. Knowing the thickness is critical to making quality leather products. Keep in mind that the thickness of the leather may disqualify certain types of leather from being used. For example, if you require a higher ounce of leather, sheepskin may be too thin to work for your handicraft.

When buying the right leather for your leather handicrafts, you will find that there is a common back and forth between the thickness and the type of leather. The thickness will be the main factor followed by the type. Once you have these two elements determined then you can start worrying about the aesthetic qualities such as dye, texture, cut.

The Cut

The thickness of the leather goes hand in hand with the cut of the leather. The closer that the cut is to the belly of the animal from which it originated, the more delicate the leather will be. Patterns of leather are generally associated with the hide pattern. These are Side, Back, shoulder, double shoulder, bend, double bend, culatta, double culatta, and bellies. If you are unsure about which cut to purchase, ask your local professional leather artisan for advice.

Finished or Unfinished?

Unfinished leather is a leather that has been strictly dyed. There is no protective coating or any other measures taken upon the leather. Finished leather has a protective coating put on the surface, usually pigment based. While the unfinished leather dye tends to have a more vibrant coloration and a “truer” color, it also has a higher potential to fade as UV lights hit it. Additionally, as there is no protective coating, stains and damage to the leather is higher. Leather artisans should restrict the use of unfinished leather to luxury items.

Finished leather due to the protective coating may be slightly off from the actual dye. However, the colors tend to last longer, do not scuff or fade as quickly, and are resilient to stains and absorbing defects. Finished leather is typically the choice of the leather artisan making upholstery, belts, and non-luxury items.

In the professional world, finished and unfinished leathers are sometimes referred to as Aniline Leather or Semi-Aniline leather. Ensure that the leather is full or top grain when this association is made.

How much leather will I need?

Perhaps one of the most critical decisions in buying leather is the quantity that you will need. Where you could buy yards upon yards of leather, the fact of the matter is that genuine leather is expensive and that purchasing too much is just not practical. When planning your project, do a rough estimate of the yards of leather you will need. My process is to add 20% to the total needed leather to account for mistakes, defects in the leather, and other additions which may be required. Larger projects, such as a sofa or a chaise should add a minimum of 50% to account for such. For example a tufted leather sofa requires 19 yards of material. To be on the safe side you would want to purchase 27 yards minimum.

There is not set formula

While this guide will help you in finding the best leathers for your project, there is no definitive set of rules to follow. You will have to learn as you go which leathers, cuts, dyes, and thicknesses work best for your projects.