My mother tells me that when I was a kid, I showed some interest in leathercraft after making a few things at summer camp. So she used to take me to a local shop where we’d buy little kits. I remember carrying a wallet for a number of years that I’d made myself. By “made,” I mean I sewed some pre-cut leather together with thick cord and stamped my name in it with some pre-made leather stamps. Not so long ago, I saw some much more detailed and kick-ass leatherwork crafted by a friend who’s into costuming, and it got me thinking how nice it’d be to be able to make custom cases for some of my equipment and so on.
So my question: What are the best tools and learning resources for someone who wants to get into serious leathercraft?
Thankfully the Internet makes the learning process a bit easier than when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure that the shop my mother took me to visit was a Tandy Leather Factory, and their site does indeed list a number of kits like the ones I remember. They offer some starter kits, too, including a Deluxe Leathercraft Kit containing a lot of various stamps and brushes, plus some basic tanning materials. Tandy also slips in some I-made-it-at-camp kits, like a cell phone case and checkbook cover.
But I’m more interested in learning to shape leather to make more complex items. I noticed a Leathercraft’s Ultimate Workshop kit, too, though it’s priced at a whopping $600. It looks like pretty much an everything-we-have-to-offer set with lots of shaping and custom-carving tools.
Hopefully some of you Toolmongers are experts, though, and can direct me to a cheaper place to start. I like the idea of building up a tool set as I learn, as opposed to just buying my way in. In my opinion, at least, tools are only as useful as the artisan who holds them.
(The photo above comes from the Marcy J. Miller’s website. She’s an artist out of Cave Creek, AZ. Check out her site for lots of cool leather work.)