Learn how you can kickstart your leatherwork hobby with the right tools for cheap
If you’re reading this it’s might be because you imagine what it’s like to make your own cool stuff out of leather. Just think of it… wallets, bags, all kind of accessories… There’s so much cool stuff to make. Here’s what you’re thinking right now:
- What’s something creative I can do that won’t break the bank?
- Do I really want to get started with leatherwork?
- What tools do I need to buy?
- How do I avoid spending too much money before I know whether I’ll like it?
Pay what you want for this short guide and I’ll answer all your questions. Read more here and don’t forget to check out SMITH BROS on Instagram.
CHECK OUT SMITHBROS LEATHERWORK QUICKSTART TOOLS GUIDE BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Smith Bros Leatherwork Quickstart Tools Guide
So, how much to get started with Leatherwork?
This is a good question. One of a bunch of questions that you’re probably wondering about if you want to start doing some leatherwork.
When I was starting out I had similar questions. Aside from what it was going to cost, I wanted to know:
- What are the essential tools?
- How long would it take me to make something?
- What skills and techniques will I have to learn?
- What if I was no good?
- Would it make me happy?
I’ll come back to the issue of cost in a minute. But let’s deal with the other questions first.
What are the essential tools I need to get?
Any type of craft work is going to require some tools. You might already have some of the things you need.
And, as you’re already aware, you might have to spend some money and buy some of the gear you need. No surprises there.
Doing leatherwork is a specialist activity so, unless you can borrow everything you need, you’ll need to budget for some equipment.
The good news is that you can get started quite cheaply thanks to the Internet. I’ve compiled an essential tools list that you can use to get started.
How long would it take me to make something?
You already can guess the answer to this – it depends on what you want to make. I usually recommend that people start with something small that they can make successfully in one or two sessions.
This means that, assuming you’ve got everything you need, you can knock out something cool in a couple of evenings or over a weekend.
What this actually is will depend on what level of skill you start with. What I mean is that some people are already good at using their hands so they have no trouble cutting out leather or measuring with a steel ruler.
For others, there is a learning curve that you have to go through to learn how to use the tools, even things like a ruler or a knife.
It’s good to acknowledge that nobody is born knowing how to use something like a ruler or callipers. Even the best crafter had to learn how to hold a knife or how to measure.
There are lots of micro-skills that you’ll need to learn, use and develop along the way.
Where you start on this journey is going to determine how long it takes you to make something. Or at least how long it takes you to make something that meets your personal standards of quality.
I can show you how to make something in an afternoon. But when I started, with no one to guide me, it took me about 3 months before I was making things that I thought were good enough to give away as Christmas presents.
What skills and techniques will I have to learn?
Basic leatherwork needs a few simple skills. Sure, it’s a big topic if you want it to be. But to make the kinds of things that I make, you only need to know how to do the following:
- Make and follow a plan
- Make a pattern and prototype
- Measure and cut
- Think ahead
- Glue surfaces together
- Mark and punch holes for hand stitching
- Stitch it up
- Finish your edges
Some of these steps are going to expand depending on what you’re making. For example, when you’re thinking ahead at step 4 you may need to plan when to bevel your edges or add a crease. But there’s not too much more to it that these 8 steps.
What if I’m no good?
I think everyone feels this when they’re starting out at something new. It doesn’t matter if it’s leatherwork or a new job.
In other words, it would be unusual if you didn’t have your doubts. This is normal. Everyone is different when it comes to managing these kinds of thoughts.
If you can accept that you’re likely to have doubts and second guess your ability to succeed, then you should also accept that these thoughts are irrelevant and that you should just get started and give it a go.
Pursuing mastery, whether it’s for leatherwork or anything else is rather unglamorous. The formula is simple:
LEARN ==> PRACTICE ==> REPEAT
And baked into that cycle is failure. What you need to do though is reframe your failures as feedback. Get back on your bike and keep riding.
Will it make me happy?
I can’t tell you what’s going to make you happy. You have to figure that out for yourself.
However, I can tell you what makes me happy and you can decide for yourself if you’re the same or different.
Making cool stuff and doing a good job for it’s own sake
That’s what really makes me happy.
Of course, if I’m not getting enough sleep, not working out or going for a run everyday, not getting outside and not eating properly then nothing is going to make me happy.
You are probably not so different.
Back to the cost…
If you are an absolute beginner, which means you have no tools and can’t borrow any of the gear, I think you can get started for under USD$100.
That means buying a kit like this or similar (click the picture):
And some leather like this 12″ x 24″ rectangle (click the picture):
After that you can just get started. There are various kits on Amazon and they are of varying quality. Not every kit contains everything that you need. Make sure you check their contents off against my tools list or get in touch with me to discuss further.
If you found this useful, you might also enjoy my book on Craftsmanship which is outlined below.
But I also have two short publications you can download for free (or pay whatever you want):
Otherwise, check out my book on the Craftsman’s Journey. It comes with a 50 minute masterclass now as well.
How To Make Cool Stuff – 50 Minute Craftsmanship Masterclass & eBook by Smith Bros
Embrace the Way of the Craftsman
Do you remember what it was like to hang out in your grandfather’s workshop? Do you want to know how to literally MAKE meaning in your life and the lives of others? Do you want to get in touch with the idea of doing a job well for its own sake?
Making, building and creating ARE thinking and you can learn to do it. You can learn a craft and even make the nice things that you want to have. Embrace the Way of the Craftsman and discover how today with this eBook from Graeme Smith of Smith Bros, Leatherwork.
NEW – How To Make Cool Stuff now comes bundled with FREE 50 Minute Masterclass
- As well as this ebook and some other freebies, you’ll get my Smith Bros 50-minute masterclass – Exploring Craft and Craftsmanship
Read more here
CHECK OUT HOW TO MAKE COOL STUFF – LEARN NEW SKILLS, DO A GOOD JOB AND EMBRACE THE WAY OF THE CRAFTSMAN BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link above to find out more about How to Make Cool Stuff – Learn new skills, do a good job and embrace the Way of the Craftsman
Using Medical Scalpels for Craft and Leatherwork
Because an insanely sharp knife doesn’t have to break the bank
Everyone has their own idea about what to use for cutting leather and other materials. But we can all agree on one thing – a craftsman needs a good blade. Whether you’re starting out or not there is nothing worse than blunt tools.
- Are you tired of sharpening blades?
- Are you sick of snapping the tips off Exacto knives?
- Have you been wondering what to get to replace that rusty Stanley knife?
Pay what you want for this short guide to using medical scalpels for craft and leatherwork. Read more here from Smith Bros.
CHECK OUT USING MEDICAL SCALPELS FOR CRAFT & LEATHERWORK BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Using Medical Scalpels for Craft and Leatherwork