Thursday, July 21, 2022



Welcome to my Blog

About Leatherwork

I hope it will inspire you.

I hope you can learn about new things with me.


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]

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sharp Tools

One of the processes to get sharp tools to work at their optimum, is to polish them. This is not sharpening - it comes after the process of sharpening.
Here is a video that will show most of the often used tools being polished.

The following short video focuses just on the stropping of a swivel knife:

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Making a Leather Feather

 The first time I learnt to make a leather feather like this, was in a class I attended - the master, Jim Linnell, was the instructor.
It was 2013 and I was fortunate enough to get the feather Jim made during the class - picture above.
These feathers were not cut free from the leather, but remained as a 3D "tooling".
The videos I am going to show here, shows you how to make a feather that is cut loose from the leather.

To start, I use a 2/3oz vegtan leather, a swivel knife, a hair-blade tool, a wide fine-textured beveler, a very sharp Exacto blade (or you can use a fresh scalpel blade).

After cutting it free from the leather, the only steps that remain, is to thin down the ridges that will be on the back, sculpt it a little and then turn them into whatever color you desire.

There are so many variations you can play with when making these feathers:  the color, the shape, the size, realistic or not.

In the following photo, on the right, are the two feathers I did in the video.  I painted the middle one with a silver acrylic.

In this one, I did not cut free the top of the feather, but tooled the piece that the leather is still attached to, to look like a separate piece of leather.

You can see Jim Linnell's feather class at:
Tandy's Facebook Videos
And his feather patterns are free at:
Elktrack Studio

Have Fun!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


 There is no better reference book than Al Stohlman's book on Holstermaking.

It shows you how to design your own holster and how to build various variations into your holster.

But there are a few points I want to expand on.  For example, none of Stohlman's holsters in that book were lined.  And nowadays there are many methods of wet-molding that can make a difference to the technique you follow.

First, let me suggest this sequence of making a holster:

  • I would first make the paper pattern, transfer it to a piece of leather and make a prototype just to make sure the basic pattern translates to a leather holster as expected.
  • Then transfer the corrected pattern to good leather.
  • Now tool the leather and dye it.   Do NOT seal or condition the leather - you have to be able to get it damp for the wet-forming step.
  • Now cut it out, mark the stitching lines and stitch the holster - remember that the leather will be vulnerable until conditioned.
  • Get the leather damp and wet-form it by pushing your seran-wrapped gun into it.   Work careful so that your tooling is net affected - stretching tooled leather while wet-forming, can diminish the depth of your tooling.
  • Let the holster dry and then apply sealer  conditioner on the outside and conditioner on the inside.
This post will be added to as I get seasoned holster makers to give me their input.

Here are useful comments I have received:
From JR Parker: 
"Holster making is one of those skills you learn by doing. The above book is a good general reference for "field" type holsters (but it is dated). It is not a reference for modern practical gun leather.
My best suggestion it to take a class or 3 from someone who is skilled at the craft. Master the basics before trying to teach others.
I'm of this opinion simply because a holster is not like a billfold, wallet or belt. If you get it wrong it may have dire results and someone cold be injured.
Think of it like saddle making. Would you buy a saddle from someone who doesn't know anything about horses or saddles?"


Thursday, June 10, 2021



  1. If you store leather in the dark, it will not darken.
    Well, it is not light, or sunlight, or UV light that darkens leather.  
    It is air - oxygen - it is the tanins in the leather that oxidizes with its contact to air, that turns a darker color.
  2. Oil makes leather darker.
    No, oil might accelerate the oxidation process.
    When all the tannins have oxidized, you can add as much oil as you want, the leather will not go darker.
  3. Leave leather in the sun to make it go darker.
    Well, it might just accelerate the oxidation a bit, but it is still oxidation that darkens the leather.
  4. Saddle-Lac, NeatLac, Resolene will prevent the darkening of vegtan.
    No, all it might do is temporarily seal off the leather fibers from the air around it.  As the finish wears through and the fibers get exposed again, they will oxidize once more.

Here is an example of two sample sheets made about two years apart -  you can see how much the leather oxidized under Resolene.  The newer one will oxidize too, but nobody can say how much - that will depend on the recipe used to tan the leather - the more tannins, the darker it will oxidize.

Long ago in a guild we experimented with a complete UV light blocking finish we got from France.   It was a bit slower, but the leather with that finish on, still turned darker.

Then one day I saw a kit that had been hanging at the very back of a peg on the wall at a Tandy store.   The leather of the kit was the normal light color you expect in a vegtan.
Except for a very small round spot that had darkened - it was right next to s small hole in the plastic.   The leather darkened only in that one little spot.
This made me think that it was not light that had any effect - that whole piece of leather was exposed to the exact same amount of light.   The only difference was the exposure to air.
I asked the question on the forum of the Leather Chemists of America, and they confirmed for me that it is oxygen that oxidizes the tannins in the leather that makes for the darker shade and not light.

There is an interesting aspect to this:
When leather is exposed to sunlight for too long, it bleaches to a very light unnatural color.
And the moment you touch that leather with water, it immediately gets to its darker oxidized color again.  
You can see that on this sign that hung in a store window for a long time and got afternoon sun every afternoon.   All I did around the buffalo head was to paint it with clean water (and when I took this picture, that water had dried totally).