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Leather tooling for fun

If you are looking for a new hobby, leather tooling allows you to craft leather into a variety of practical and decorative accessories.

Crafting with leather, or leather tooling, is a craft that has been around for a long time but is quickly gaining popularity as people realise how easy this craft can be once you master the basic techniques involved. Here in South Africa there are plenty of suppliers that stock leather and tools for working with leather.

Buying leather scraps or small pieces of leather means that you can craft expensive items for a fraction of the cost of buying ready made, commercial items. Plus, when you make your own leather craft you can design a unique range of accessories. We found this step-by-step on instructables to get you started.


Leather tools

Leather scraps

Design or template


Neatsfoot Oil or Beeswax

You will need a strong surface to pound on and a granite slab or cutting board is perfect.



It is important that the leather stays damp while you work, and that the blade sharpened regularly. Begin by sponging water on the surface of the leather, but don't let the water pool - you just want to dampen the surface.

Print out or draw your design and then tape the pattern onto your leather to allow you to trace the pattern. Use a stylus or pencil to leave an impression in the leather.

Using a sharp blade, begin by cutting grooves along the pattern transferred onto the leather. Cut straight and not at an angle and take your time when cutting around curves.

After cutting the entire pattern the next step is stamping to create a relief effect. Use a beveller tool to press down the leather on one side of each cut. Place the edge of the beveller at the edge of the cut and gently tap with a hammer, moving the beveller along the cut smoothly.

Bevel the areas you want to be darker in colour for shadowing effect.

There are various tools that can be used to add more detail to your design to add more dimension. These tools can be added to your collection over time, depending on how far you want to take this craft.


Use Neatsfoot Oil or Beeswax to soften the leather.

For even more effect, or to darken the finish, you can apply artist's oil paint. Only apply a thin layer and put the project aside to allow the oil paint to dry properly.




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