Monday, May 1, 2023



Welcome to my Blog

About Leatherwork

I hope it will inspire you.

I hope you can learn about new things with me.


Basic Stamping Tools

To start with tooling on your project,  you need very few tools. 
I picked here the basic tools in most starter sets,  and added two that I think are really nice to have : F910 and a basketweave.
Just sitting down with those eight tools, I came up with these examples of what you can do with them (this excludes carving that first requires swivel knife cuts).
These are then what most people refer to as geometric stamping. 

Friday, April 28, 2023

Writing on Leather


It would be a plus to your leatherwork, to learn to write in a calligraphy style.  I learnt to do "Italic" - you write it with a wide pen nib (or a wide woodburning tip):

I will show you many examples, but first let us get a No-No out of the way:
When using a very fancy alphabet stamp set, do NOT stamp the whole name/word in uppercase. It looks very wrong. 
This is an examle of writing that would have been unreadable if it was done in upper case only:

The more everyday letter stamp sets that are still sold today, can be used as is (they usually do not even have lower case letters included):

Many crafters have problems in lining the letters up.
If your project (and personality) allows, you can purposefully have the letters not in  straight line, as in this example:

Sometimes the writing makes up a big part of the overall design.  That would make it worth spending some extra time on the writing to make it pop:

Here is an example of freehand writing done with a swivel knife:

Of course, it is also a lot of fun to do the writing is such a way that it compliments other elements of the project:
This was written with an A105 background stamp, the same a the border.

...and this one was done in a woodwork design:

The writing on the left was done with a very thin tip Sharpie, and the Italic lettering on the right was done with a permenent ink Calligraphy pen:
When you use permanent ink pens to write on leather, make sure to test first how the writing will hold up to the sealer/conditioner you intend to put over it.
For example, a waterbased sealer like NeatLac will fade out a waterbased ink.

I hope these examples will inspire you to try different ways to write on leather where the design calls for it!

I will continue to place examples here as I work through my photos..... if this helps you, you can come back and look at the updates!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Woodgrain Effect

 Different Woodgrain Effects

Here are a few samples where woodgrain was used:

First is a frame by Jason Rovig:

Second is a bag by Gary Arvidson:

And then a wall hanging and a Covid mask that I did:

Sunday, February 5, 2023



I recently came across this very handy list of words used in the leather craft / industry.  It is no longer being published - some of the term are seldom heard nowadays, but it is still good to take not of all of these terms.

Genuine Alligator is sold by the inch measurements across the back. They run 9 to 6 inches and are used mostly for billfolds and small handbags.
Upper portion of a side (the belly has been removed).
Bottom portion of a side (the part produced when a back is made).
Deer and elk skins, having the outer grain removed.
Hide from a male bovine, capable of reproduction.
Skin from a young bovine, male or female.
Mature bovine that has been vegetable tanned. The only kind of leather suitable for carving, tooling and stamping.
Hides from a bovine of any breed or sex, but usually mature; includes bullhide, steerhide, cowhide, and sometimes kipskins.
The product of oil tanning the underneath layer (called a "flesher") that has been split from a sheepskin.
4-4.5 oz cowhide splits used in making chaps, moccasins, soft boots, handbags and vests. Available in many colors.
This is a smooth finished calf used for many purposes. It is not suitable for tooling. Comes in many colors.
Taken from the flesh side split off a cowhide.


Leathers which have been tanned with soluble chromium salts, primarily basic chromium sulfate. Currently the most widely used tannage in the U.S.A.


Leathers tanned with more than one tanning agent. For example, initially chrome-tanned followed by a second tannage (called a RETAN) with vegetable materials.


Hide from a mature female bovine that has produced a calf.


A mechanical process of permanently imprinting a great variety of unique grain effects into the leather surface. Done under considerable heat and pressure.


Leather as it is when taken off the animals. Only the hair has been removed and grain or epidermis left on.


“Breathing", yet water-repellent. Unusual grain surface. Is virtually skuff-proof. Used mainly for men’s shoes, tips on children’s shoes, belts and wherever leather is used.


Skin from a mature goat.


Leather graded by sight and feel by well trained graders. Grade designations vary from tanner to tanner. Grading is only on amount of marks and blemishes.


This is the epidermis or outer layer of animal skins.


Hides and skins which have been processed with the grain, or outer surface, dressed for end use.


Vegetable tanned cattlehide leather finished for harness and saddlery use.


The whole pelt from large animals (cattle, horse, etc.)


Skin from a bovine, male or female intermediate in size between a calf and a mature animal.


Skin from a lamb, or young sheep.


Cowhide specially tanned for the making of very rugged, long wearing outdoor gear.


Reg. TM, the exclusive property of Tandy Leather Co. Referred by some as "Easy Tooling Leather because it tools and carves easily with wonderful results.


All leather is measured on intricate measuring machines at tannery and marked to the nearest Va of a sq. ft.


Special 4-5 oz cowhide tanned soft and rugged for long wearing outdoor use.


A goat originally from Morocco, now from India. Has a crinkled effect and is very durable. Used for billfolds.


Used for linings. Suitable for tooling in the heavier weight. Color “natural” as the name indicates.


Cowhide that has been specially tanned to produce the Latigo Look and still be suitable for tooling.


Leathers tanned with certain fish oils. Produces a very soft, pliable leather such as chamois.


Term used to specify the thickness of leather. One (1) ounce equals about 1/64" =  0.4mm of thickness.

(8 OZ = 8/64” = 1/8" = 3.2mm)


A shoe leather used for the outer soles. From vegetable tanned cattlehide, often quite thick and even compressed.


A shoe leather, heavily finished to give a highly lustrous, baked enamel type appearance, used for shoe uppers. Generally from cattlehide.


Pig design on lamb.


An untanned hide or skin with the hair on.


Skin from pigs or hogs.


Tanned with the fur left on. Used for warmest trim, handbags, linings, pillow covers and home decor.


Large sheep skins with the deep pile wooj left on. Used for throw rugs, home decor and high fashion jackets.


Made from cow or goat skins. The leather is not tanned, only treated to prevent decay. Used for drum heads and Indian lore projects.


Very heavy vegetable tanned cowhide. Used for making saddles and other ranch gear.


Washed and tanned with the wool left on, then clipped to the desired length, usually one-fourth to one inch.


Cattlehide grain leather which, prior to processing, has been cut in half forming two “sides". The reduced size better accommodates tannery equipment Represents largest volume of commercial leather produced.


The pelt from small animals (calf, sheep, goat. etc.).


The top grain is split off a sheep. Very light and used for pasted or glued linings. The flesh side of this leather is often used for making CHAMOIS.


The skin of an unborn or prematurely born calf. The skin is sold with the hair still on it.


The underneath layer of side leather which has been “split” off. Devoid of a natural grain, it may be either sueded or pigment finished and embossed.


Leathers that are finished by buffing the flesh side (opposite the grain side) to produce a nap.; Term refers to the napping process, and is unrelated to the type of skin used.


Any leather that has been vegetable tanned and is suitable for tooling.


Heavier than Kip or tooling calf and suitable for larger patterns.


TOP GRAIN does not mean “Full Grain." Top grain has often been sanded to remove scars and is then sprayed or pasted to “cover up”.  TOOLING LEATHER must be Full Grain and must not have been doctored.


Large cattlehide, split thin, and tanned for use as furniture and automobile seat coverings.


Leathers which have been tanned with vegetable materials, that are derived from certain plants and trees,  often called BARK tannins.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Liquid Sequence

 This post is intended for anybody not sure of the sequence of applying dyes, paint, antiques, sealers, and conditioners.

You can download and print this chart at the "Downloads" tab at the top of this blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2022


I cannot remember where I saw this first.  It was long ago, but it has become one of my signature decorations on projects.

This is how I achieve a very effective border: 

 Mark two parallel lines with a compass.   
Cut them with a swivel knife.  
Now use a lined sharp-tip beveler [F910] along one of the lines to make one row of indents and then turn the leather around to make the row of indents along the other cut line.  
The smooth and checkered bevelers, with the same shape, does not have the same good effect, but try them by all means, you might like their effect more.

My friend Dawson recently came up with this clever variation:
  • In the bottom row, A is first beveled on the inside of two cut lines - sections B and C is not beveled at all.
  • In the top row, the inside of the cut lines were first beveled for all the sections.
  • Sections A and B were done with the basic V407 veiner; C and D with a larger one and E with a smaller veiner.

I hope this can inspire you!

[First published Oct 31 2007
Updated April 2022]