Working with leather: types of work, tools and technologies
Working with leather: types of work, tools and technologies

Since the beginning of time, mankind has been dealing with leather. In order to protect their body from cold and damage, the ancient ancestors of people used the skin (skin) of mammoths. A little later, the warriors used leather armor, which protected them very well from the blows of weapons and took care of their owner. Currently, leather products are also widely used in everyday life. They are able to emphasize the individuality of a person and show his status in society. Clothes, shoes, bags, purses, leather briefcases, furniture in the house and car interior covered with leather, belts and many other accessories made of leather - all this can attract attention and show the refined taste of the owner.

Working with leather is a real pleasure, because this natural material is soft, pliable, pleasant to the touch, durable and at the same time elastic.

For many people, making genuine leather accessories is a hobby that allows them to express their creativity and also generates additional income.

When working with leather for beginner furriers, there ismany questions related to the intricacies of work and technologies for manufacturing leather products: what types of leather are there, what tools are used, what technologies are there, is it difficult for a beginner to start working. All this will be discussed in this article.

Skin types

types of leather

There are many types of skin, they differ in the type of animal from which it is obtained (pork, calf, deer, crocodile), the age of the animal and the method of processing the skin (tanning). Depending on what product is planned to be made, the type of leather is also selected: for belts, wardrobe trunks, backpacks, the so-called “bulky” is suitable. Such leather is the best suited for embossing (both manual and mechanical), products made from this type of leather have a long service life. Widespread is the skin with the name "Chevro". It is used for the manufacture of key rings, credit cases, fashion shoes, clothing and upholstery of luxury furniture. It owes its popularity to its unique pattern on the surface. But no matter what type of leather you choose for your product, you will need tools to work with leather.

Tools used for work

leather working tools

In order to get started, you need to select the necessary tools and fixtures:

  • Tools for marking the seam. They are a drawing pen and a roller marker. With the help of a drawing pen, you can easily mark the place where the seam will pass. A roller marker is used to mark the locations of seam holes. This tool may havedifferent tooth pitch - this determines the length of the stitch.
  • Groove cutter. Required for cutting grooves under the seam. The groove allows you to make sure that the thread does not protrude above the surface of the product, and is in the same plane with the surface. This prevents thread fraying. There are two types of groove cutters: adjustable and non-adjustable. It is best to give preference to adjustable tools, because they allow you to make indentations for seams at various distances from the edge of the product.
  • Punchers. They are used to make holes in a leather product, whether it be a figured hole for beauty or for braid. Punches are: round (of various diameters), curly - such punches have a non-standard shape (asterisks, crescents, flowers), oval, fork (they are stepping), used to make holes when stitching a product with braid or thread.
  • sampler types
  • Stove for working with the tool. It is necessary to soften the blows of a punch or stamp. During operation, punches can become dull and fail; special plates or self-healing mats are used to increase the service life of punches. They are able to protect the tool from excessive load and extend its life.
  • Planer for thinning the bahtar side of the skin. It is used to reduce the thickness of the skin in the area of ​​​​the future seam. Very often, due to the too thick edge of the skin, an ugly seam is obtained when stitching. In order not to disfigure the product, a technology of working with leather is used, whichcalled scraping. The purpose of scraping is to reduce the thickness of the skin at the site of its stitching. You can also use knives for scraping, but scraping is more convenient to do with a planer.
  • Bevel cutter. It is used for finishing the edge of a leather product. This gives the product a finished look. You need to chamfer both from the wrong side and from the front side.
  • Also, scissors (tailor's and manicure) are a tool for working with leather, they are used for cutting leather or for curly cutting leather. Tailor's - for large details, manicure - for smaller ones. It is best to take tailor's scissors that are self-sharpening and you should not save on this tool - low-quality scissors tend to become dull quickly, and blunt scissors, instead of cutting, chew the skin.
  • Knives: shoe, mockup, stationery. The first two knives can be used for grinding, and the stationery knife can be used for cutting braid.
  • Pliers, round nose pliers and wire cutters may be needed for leather work at home.
  • The eyelet pliers are used to install hardware that reinforces the edges of round holes.
  • Sewing machine, it can be used to install snakes, zippers in jackets.
  • In order to fix the product in a certain position, you can use a vice or clamps. When gluing large pieces of leather, clamps work well.
  • For marking you will need: a metal ruler, a metal square (for marking and for cutting), pens, marker, pencil, remnant or crayon - for drawingmarkup. Depending on the type of leather, one or another tool is used to mark the cut.
  • The leather kit also includes various consumables. A novice furrier will have to purchase: special threads for leather, accessories (eyelets, holnitens), needles for leather, glue for gluing seams.
  • You may also need softeners and antique gels to work. The softener is used during embossing so that there would be no breaks in the skin in those places where the embossing was applied with a stamp. And the antique gel gives the embossing a 3D effect.

Work tips

Given that leather is not an ordinary material, there are some requirements for leather working equipment. There are also special tricks when using tools.

Features of a sewing machine are that it must have sufficient power to be able to sew leather blanks. In addition, special requirements apply to the sewing needle and sewing machine foot. The needle should have a triangular blade. It is this shape of the needle that allows you to cut through the fabric. One of the features of working with leather on a sewing machine is that it is necessary to set the maximum stitch length. Otherwise, due to frequent holes, the seam will tear over time.

The foot of the sewing machine should slide freely over the skin. For this, it is best to use a foot with rollers. You can also use special fluoroplastic paws or special stickers on ordinary paws. These stickers provide easy glide on the material.

Threads for sewing leather

threads for leather

When sewing leather, it is best to use strong and elastic threads. Waxed or silicone threads can be used. The difference between these threads lies in the fact that waxed threads are impregnated with wax, and silicone threads are impregnated with silicone, respectively. Nylon threads are not suitable for working on a sewing machine.

Surfing leather

A shoe knife is used for cutting or grinding. One of the features of its sharpening is that you need to sharpen only one side. The sharpening angle of the scraping knife is 15-30°. The skin is scraped “from oneself”, and the knife is held at a slight angle to the surface of the material being processed. In addition, the knife should cut off a layer of skin, and not crash into it. When performing this action, you must start with the long edges of the product, moving to the short edges in the process.

The board or plate on which the skin is cut also has certain requirements - its surface should not be slippery, otherwise the workpieces will slide when cutting. Also, the surface should not be loose. In this case, the knife will get stuck in the board and you can ruin the workpiece. Can deviate the knife from the cut line and excessive fibrous surface. A good option when working with leather are plastic boards for modeling plasticine. You can also use plexiglass or linoleum.

Taboo at work

Beginners should remember a few "don'ts":

  1. The skin is never swept away, that is, they do not make temporary connections with pinsor stitches. This is due to the fact that there are always traces of punctures on the material. In order to temporarily fasten the parts of the product, you can use adhesive tape or ordinary paper clips. Also, to temporarily connect two pieces of skin, you can use a special pencil to fix the seams.
  2. Leather should not be ironed, especially thin. If there is a strong need (or desire) to iron a leather product, then this can only be done from the inside of the product and only with a slightly heated iron and through some fabric. It is strictly forbidden to use a steam iron. This is due to the fact that at high temperatures the skin is deformed, loses its elastic properties and becomes brittle. Although this property of leather can be used in decorative leather work.
  3. Leather does not respond well to washing, as water and detergents wash away fats from the leather, and this in turn leads to the fact that it becomes rough. But in fairness, it should be noted that not all types of skin are critical of this, some products can easily tolerate washing in warm water. After washing, the skin must be treated with a softening liquid, for example, a solution of glycerin.

Leather cutting and embossing

When cutting leather, remember that it stretches differently in different directions. This is important in cases where either paired parts are cut, or parts that will be sewn together.

When working with suede, you should follow the direction of the pile. When cutting, the pile should be directed from top to bottom. When stitching two pieces of suede in the same wayit is necessary to follow the direction of the pile - it should be directed in one direction.


Before you start the embossing procedure, the skin must first be prepared. To do this, it must be wetted to such a state until it stops absorbing water. At the same time, beginners to work with leather should remember that it tends to shrink when wet. And the thinner the skin, the more it shrinks. Therefore, the preparation must be done with a margin. After the production of embossing, the skin must be allowed to dry, and it must dry evenly. Otherwise, places where the skin is not dry will be darker. Softeners, paints, oils and other chemicals should be applied to the skin with a brush, sponge or woolen swab.

Literature to help beginners

Books on leather work will be of great help. In them you can find a lot of patterns for embossing, weaving, instructions for stamping. Most of the books are presented by English and Japanese authors, but there are also domestic editions. In addition, freely available on the World Wide Web, you can find many tutorials, work guides, as well as reference books for working with this material. It is these books that will help you master the craft at home, reveal little tricks when working with leather.

Main activities

In addition to the already listed types of work, there is also close-fitting, heat treatment, burning, painting, appliqué.

Wrapping is used to make leather bracelets,decorating bottles or vases. Heat treatment is used to make decorative details from leather, which will later be used in the manufacture of appliqués, jewelry or decoration.

Burning is done to give leather products a special charm. It is carried out by the simplest burner. In order for the picture to look good, it is best to give preference to light skin tones. Working with a burner requires certain skills, so it will be better to practice beforehand and understand the process of burning on thick scraps of leather.

Painting is a technology in which paints are applied to an already finished product. Before you start painting the skin should be wiped with a solution of potash. The paint should be applied in a thin layer, if the work is done with oil paints, then they are literally rubbed into the surface of the skin.

Application - making a pattern in the form of a patch. There are two types of appliqué: patch and cut. The implementation of the overlay application consists in the fact that the details of the pattern are cut out from a separate piece of leather and then glued or sewn to the main product. Cut-out application, on the contrary, is performed on the product itself. To do this, the future pattern is cut out on the main fabric, and on the wrong side, in place of the cut out pattern, fabric or leather is sewn (glued). It is desirable that the sewn fabric contrasts with the main color of the product.

Leather cutting

Sheridan style saddle

Perhaps the most beautiful kind of leather work is carving. So calledart carving on the skin. Of all the styles of drawing with a knife, sheridan can be distinguished. This style distinguishes then other way of constructing a drawing. It was originally performed on saddles, belts and other leather items from the arsenal of cowboys. Sheridan style is performed in the form of stems, leaves, rose hips interconnected and intertwined with each other. It is distinguished by a very large number of small details.

sheridan briefcase

Of course, learning to work with leather is a rather complicated process, but the end result exceeds all expectations. If this job is fun and someone is looking for a hobby that will also bring additional income, then it is definitely worth learning this craft.

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