You’ve probably seen that I’m buddies with another YouTuber, Ira Pelletier, on the YouTube channel. We became friends when we just sort of bumped into one another on the platform, making similar leather craft content and living nearby one another. He’s had this series going on his channel that I’ve always liked, called 5 Tool Tuesday. In this series, he covers mainly leather craft tools and gives great advice on how to make them for yourself, how to source leather craft tools that you don’t need to buy from a leather work shop, and even has one episode on tools for your mind that will make you a better leather worker or craftsman in general. Also, his intro for the series is hilarious (or at least I think so). Definitely go check out his YouTube Channel and his website: The Wood life Goods.
My Top Five Leather Craft Tools:
If you watch my YouTube channel, these five leather craft tools should not really be a surprise, since I talk about them quite a bit, but a good tool is just satisfying to use. Especially after learning on beginner leather craft tools (which I recommend).
If you Haven’t watched the video on Ira’s channel yet, I’d recommend it. Here are my top five leather craft tools!
Sinabroks Stitching Punch
These stitching punches were an absolute game-changer for me. As functional as they are beautiful. You probably know that I’m a sucker for anything brass, but getting past their good looks, the Sinabroks stitching punch is a work horse. In November of 2020 I got slammed with Christmas orders (mainly for wallets). I had upgraded from my Amazon diamond stitching chisels to stitching punches by KemovanCraft (a brand that primarily sells on Etsy from what I remember). I really like the look of a stitching punch in my leather work. The combination of a round stitching hole and a wider (I like 1mm) thread just make for a rugged-looking product, in my opinion. Well these stitching punches worked at first, but they were brutally difficult to remove from leather after punching. Not only this, but they quickly deteriorated from use. I was pushing through my orders but the teeth on these stitching punches started breaking from use. I was actually down to my last few remaining teeth when my Sinabroks finally arrived. You can check out my unboxing video here, just be aware it was one of my first ever videos.
From the second I pulled these out of their packaging, they became my favourite leather craft tools that I own. This has not changed. They are heavy, easily cut through leather and lift out of it just as easily. This is without a doubt the best upgrade I’ve ever made. If you’re in the market for new stitching punches/chisels, and have a few dollars to invest (these aren’t cheap), I’d highly recommend looking at Sinabroks. You can pick them up right here.
A 3D printer probably seems like an odd tool for leather work, but it is one of the most used tools in my shop.
My main use for a 3D printer is printing reusable templates from my patterns so that I can quickly transfer them to leather using my scratch awl without having to do the whole printed pattern masking tape method.
Another really cool thing you can do with a 3D printer in the leather shop is quickly print custom leather stamps. Admittedly I don’t do a ton of this, but for someone actively selling leather goods, the option to add a custom stamp without having to get it made in brass or steel is a huge. Of course these stamps aren’t going to last as long as metal ones, but they’re cheap to make and print in about 30 minutes.
There are also a bunch of cool little leather craft tool designs people have uploaded to Thingiverse from edge dye rollers to center-finding rulers.
If you are at all interested in grabbing a 3D printer for your leather shop, the one I went with is the Creality Ender 3. At the time of writing this, it is selling for $239 USD which is a pretty reasonable price to get into 3D printing.
Amazon Leather Burnishing Machine
I love this machine. It probably cuts my edge work time in half. Although, it doesn’t completely eliminate the need to hand sand and burnish, I can quickly get through the rough sanding at the low grit before I start my process of working up to 1000 grit by hand. I also like to do my first burnish or two on the machine before finishing by hand using a piece of canvas.
This thing is a steal at $135. At the time of writing, I’ve had mine for 6 months and have never had a single issue with it. This is one of those leather craft tools that will pay for itself in time saved.
You can grab the one I got here.
Grog Marker with Tokonole
Alright, I can’t take credit for this hack. I got the idea from Ikki Leather, an awesome leather worker and a great guy.
He posted several stories about his edge burnishing method. I contacted him to ask if he was cool with me doing a video on his brilliant technique of watering down Tokonole and putting it in a Grog marker. The leather burnishing machine cuts my edge work time in half. This trick probably cuts it in half once more.
I’m pretty sure Grog markers are made for graffiti artists, but this is without a doubt one of my most valued leather craft tools.
2 Ton Arbor Press
I went a long time without one of these and I don’t know why. It’s amazing.
Before I picked up an arbor press, I used to use a woodworking clamp to awkwardly stamp my makers mark into leather. Although this method did work, it was a huge pain in the ass.
I finally broke down and grabbed my arbor at a local hardware store and opted for the 2 ton version as it is bigger. I’m glad I did.
Not only can I use it to stamp leather, but because the 2 ton is bigger, there’s enough room to use it for setting rivets, snaps, grommets, etc. Not only is it quicker, but it drastically reduces the amount of failures when setting them. I used to find a ton of my double cap rivets didn’t set properly when using a mallet.
I got my arbor press at a small localhardware store but I’ve heard you can get them for a reasonable price at Harbor Freight.
Like several of my other tools on the list, this one doesn’t seem like a leather craft tool. And I guess it isn’t, but it sure is handy to have in the shop.
I picked up this Godox SL60W studio light mainly for taking pictures. My leather shop is in the basement and I’ve always struggled with lighting. This thing is like turning on the sun in my basement. It’s crazy.
I got this light for photography but it was so nice being able to actually see what I’m doing, that it has become one of my work lights.
You can pick up the Godox SL60W with softbox here.
Picking The Right Leather Craft Tools For You
If you watch Ira’s series, you can see huge differences in the tools him and I use. This is common among leather workers. You try some things and figure out what works for you, eventually developing your own unique style.