Saturday, April 25, 2020

Starter Tooling 101

I want to do this post to help anybody that is just starting off and has limited resources.  There is much more that can by added to this, and I have some of those in the mini videos at the bottom of this blog post.  But the main focus will be on using just a swivel knife and the six stamps you see in the photo above.

You can download the pattern I am using at DOWNLOADS

First, get the leather very damp. This is called "casing the leather". The first video in this blog post deals with casing: 

Spray or sponge apply water to the surface until the water do not sink in immediately.
When the leather still has a dark color from the water, you can start doing swivel knife cuts. When the leather is almost at its natural dry color, you can do all the stamp tooling.
You keep the leather at this moisture level with an occasional light spray or wipe with a damp sponge.
When I want to get up for dinner or any time less than 12 hours, I have a smooth plastic/acrylic sheet I cover the leather with, and when I come back, I just update the moisture content again.
Trace the design with a permanent pen like a sharpie onto tracing film.  Then put the tracing film over the leather, making sure it does not shift and with something pointed (not piercingly sharp), trace your design down onto the leather.
With a stropped (polished) swivel knife, start cutting the traced lines.  RULES for the swivel knife:  Do not lean it sideways (it will undercut), lean it slightly forward to that the front tip of the blade does the cutting, cut towards yourself only while it is comfortable for your hand - keep turning the leather so that you can do this.
One of the first additions you should try to acquire, is jeweler's rouge, so that you can strop your swivel knife blade.  Here is a video about that:
This is what your cut lines should look like - about ⅓  into the thickness of the leather.
Look carefully - when lines touch with 90° or less, leave the smallest of space between them - a sharp tip can work itself loose and not look good.
Identify entities on the design, like a leaf, and cut them from top to bottom  (if a leaf is on top of a flower, cut the leaf first).

The first tool you start the carving with, is a pear shader. No big rules - it can be leaned in any direction.  Walk it like a beveler so that you get a smooth flowing surface. 
For the most part, do not use a pear shader close to the lines that you have cut.
One more tool you might want to use before beveling, is a camouflage tool.  Personally I seldom use it, but here is the correct way to use it (it is not just the banging out of a few impressions on your floral carving).
Lean it over sharply and put one of the tips on the cut edge of the stem / leaf.
Later you will obliterate the marks the camo tool caused on the outside of that line, as you see indicated on this photo:
Now to bevel.  Rules for the beveler are: 
* keep it totally upright (it can NEVER lean back)
* keep the toe towards you so that you can see that you have it directly on the cut line
* move it slowly sideways while your mallet taps it numerous times jackhammer style
* rest your hand on the leather so that you have a lot of control.  After beveling ¾" or 20mm, lift your hand and do the next little piece.
Pick the item that is on top in your design, like the flower petal in this one  (#1) - bevel that first on the side of the line that I indicated with the blue lines.

More Mini videos for this post:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for posting this. I think it will be very useful. You explain it all so that even I can fallow lol. Thank you so much