Working with leather: types of work, tools and technologies

Since the beginning of time, humanity has been dealing with skin. 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 soldiers used leather armor, which very well protected them from blows 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. Clothing, shoes, bags, wallets, 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 the skin is a real pleasure, because this natural material is soft, supple, pleasant to the touch, durable and at the same time elastic.

For many people, making accessories from genuine leather is a hobby, thanks to which you can express your creativity and which, in addition to everything else, also brings additional income.

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

Skin types

types of skin

There are many types of skin, they differ in the type of animals from which it was obtained (pork, calf, deer, crocodile), the age of the animal and the method of processing the skin (tanning). Depending on which product is planned to be made, the type of leather is also chosen : for belts, wardrobe trunks, and backpacks, the so-called โ€œbullockโ€ is suitable. Such leather is perfectly suited for embossing (both manual and mechanical), products from this type of leather have a long service life. Skin with the name "chevro" is widespread. It is used for the manufacture of trinkets, credit cards, model shoes, clothes and upholstery of luxury furniture. It owes its popularity to its unique surface pattern. But no matter what type of skin you choose for your product, you will need tools for working with the skin.

Tools used for work

leather tools

In order to get to work, it is necessary to choose the necessary tool and accessories:

  • Tools for marking the seam. They are a track marker and a roller marker. With the help of a raiser, you can easily identify the place where the seam will be. A roller marker is used to mark the places of the seam holes. This tool can have different tooth pitch - this determines the stitch length.
  • Groove cutter. Required for grooves for the seam. The groove allows you to make sure that the thread does not protrude above the surface of the product, and was in the same plane with the surface. This prevents fraying of the threads. There are two types of grooving cutters: adjustable and not adjustable. It is best to give preference to precisely adjustable tools, because they allow you to make recesses for seams at different distances from the edge of the product.
  • Punches. They are used to make holes in a leather product, whether it is a figured hole for beauty or for braid. Punches are: round (of various diameters), curly - such punches have a non-standard shape (stars, crescents, flowers), oval, fork (they are also step), used to make holes when flashing the product with braid or thread.
    types of probers
  • Plate for working with the tool. Needed to mitigate the impact of a punch or die. During operation, punching can become dull and malfunctioning; special plates or self-healing mats are used to increase the service life of punching machines. They are able to protect the tool from excessive load and extend its service life.
  • Planer for thinning the barmy side of the skin. It is used to reduce the thickness of the skin in the area of โ€‹โ€‹the future suture. Very often, because of the too thick edge of the skin when stitching, an ugly seam is obtained. In order not to disfigure the product, a technology of working with skin, which is called grinding, is used. The purpose of scarfing is to reduce the thickness of the skin at the point of suturing. Knives can also be used for scoring, but it is more convenient to make scoring with a plane.
  • Fascorez. It is used for the final processing of the edge of a leather product. This gives the product a finished look. You need to chamfer both the wrong side and the front side.
  • Scissors (tailor's and manicure) are also a tool for working with leather; they are used for cutting leather or for figured cutting of leather. Tailors - for large parts, manicure - for smaller ones. It is best to take tailoring scissors self-sharpening and you should not save on this tool - low-quality scissors tend to blunt quickly, and blunt scissors chew on the skin instead of cutting it.
  • Knives: shoe, breadboard, clerical. The first two knives can be used for grinding, and clerical - for cutting braids.
  • To work with the skin at home, you may need pliers, round-nose pliers, and wire cutters.
  • Eyelets tongs 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 bonding large pieces of skin, clamps have proven themselves well.
  • For marking you will need: a metal ruler, a metal square (for marking and for cutting), pens, marker, pencil, remnant or crayon - for marking. Depending on the type of skin, one or another tool is used for marking the cut.
  • The leather kit also includes a variety of supplies. The beginning furrier will have to purchase: special threads for leather, accessories (eyelets, holnitene), needles for leather, glue for gluing seams.
  • Softeners and antique gels may also be needed for work. The softener is used for stamping so that there are no breaks in the skin in those places where stamping was applied. Antique gel gives 3D embossing effect.

Work tips

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

Features of the sewing machine are that it must have sufficient power in order to be able to stitch leather blanks. In addition, special requirements apply to the sewing needle and foot of the sewing machine. The needle should have a trihedral 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 you need to set the maximum stitch length. Otherwise, due to frequent openings, the seam will tear over time.

The foot of the sewing machine should slide smoothly over the skin. To do this, it is best to use the foot with rollers. You can also use special fluoroplastic paws or special stickers on ordinary paws. Such stickers provide easy gliding over the material.

Threads for sewing leather

threads for skin

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

Scuffing leather

A shoe knife is used for cutting or grinding. One of the features of its sharpening is that only one side needs to be sharpened. The angle of sharpening of the knife for grinding is 15-30 ยฐ. The skin is drilled โ€œon its ownโ€, and the knife is held at a slight angle to the surface of the processed material. In addition, the knife should cut off the skin layer, and not crash into it. In the production of this action, it is necessary to start from the long edges of the product, in the process moving to short edges.

Certain requirements are also imposed on the board or plate on which the skin is cut - its surface should not be slippery, otherwise the workpieces will slip when cutting. Also, the surface should not be loose. In this case, the knife will be stuck in the board and you can ruin the workpiece. Excessive fiber surface may deflect the knife from the cut line. A good option when working with leather are plastic boards for sculpting plasticine. You can still use plexiglass or linoleum.

Taboo at work

Novice masters should remember a few "not":

  1. The skin is never swept away, that is, temporary connections are not made with pins or stitches. This is due to the fact that traces of punctures always remain on the material. In order to temporarily fasten the details of the product, you can use adhesive tape or ordinary staples. Also, for temporary connection of two pieces of skin, you can use a special pencil to fix the seams.
  2. Skin cannot 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 kind of fabric. Never use a steaming 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 the skin can be used for decorative work with the skin.
  3. The skin does not like washing well, as water and detergents wash away fats from the skin, which in turn leads to the fact that it becomes rough. But in fairness, it should be noted that not all skin types are critical of this, some products can easily wash in warm water. After washing, the skin must be treated with a softening liquid, for example, a solution of glycerin.

Cutting leather and embossing

When cutting the skin, it should be remembered that in different directions it stretches in different ways. This is important when either paired parts or parts that will be stitched are embedded.

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


Before starting the embossing procedure, the skin must first be prepared. To do this, it must be wet to such a state until it ceases to absorb water. In this case, beginners to work with the skin should remember that when wet it has the property to shrink. And the thinner the skin, the stronger it shrinks. Therefore, the procurement must be done with a margin. After embossing, the skin must be allowed to dry, and it should dry evenly. Otherwise, places where the skin is not dry will be darker. Softeners, paints, oils and other chemicals on the skin should be applied with a brush, sponge or a wool swab.

Literature that will help beginners

Books on working with skin will be of great help. In them you can find many patterns for embossing, weaving, instructions for stamping. Most of the books are presented by English-speaking and Japanese authors, but there are also domestic publications. In addition, in the public domain on the World Wide Web you can find many self-study guides, work guides, as well as directories on working with this material. It is such books that will help to master the craft at home, reveal small tricks when handmade with leather.

The main types of work

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

Tightening is used to make leather bracelets, decorate bottles or vases. Heat treatment is used to make decorative parts from leather, which will subsequently be involved in the manufacture of applications, jewelry or decoration.

Burning is done to give leather products a special charm. It is performed by the simplest burner. In order for the drawing to look good, it is best to give preference to skin in light colors. Working with a burner requires certain skills, so it will be better to pre-train and understand the burning process itself on thick skin scraps.

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. Paint should be applied in a thin layer, if work is done with oil paints, then they are literally rubbed into the surface of the skin.

Application - pattern design in the form of a stripe. There are two types of applications: consignment note and cut-out. The implementation of the overhead application is that the details of the pattern are cut 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 fabric or leather is sewn (glued) on the wrong side of the carved pattern. It is desirable that the sewn fabric contrasts with the main color of the product.

Skin cutting

Sheridan Saddle

Perhaps the most beautiful type of work with leather is carving. So called art skin carving. Of all the styles of drawing with a knife, sheridan can be distinguished. This style is distinguished by the other way to build a picture. Originally performed on saddles, belts and other leather items from the arsenal of cowboys. Sheridan style is made in the form of interconnected and intertwined stems, leaves, rose hips. It is distinguished by a very large number of small parts.

sheridan briefcase

Of course, training in working with the skin is a rather complicated process, but the end result exceeds all expectations. If this work is fun, and someone is looking for a hobby, which in addition will bring additional income, then, of course, it is worth learning this craft.


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