Which leatherworking kit is best?
Also known as leather crafting, leatherworking is the process of making leather into practical objects or artwork by carving, molding, hammering and stamping. The fundamental skills required for leatherworking are cutting, stitching and finishing. Most basic projects require a ruler, knife, hammer, chisels, needles, thread and glue.
If you are new to leatherworking, you might want to start with the AMPSEVEN 20-Piece Leatherworking Kit. This basic set has all the tools you need to get started creating your own designs on leather bags, belts, wallets and more.
What to know before you buy a leatherworking kit
The trick to buying any kit is to get all the items you need without overpaying and getting stuck with a lot of items you don’t need. No leatherworking kit will have everything, but make sure you have what you need to get started.
- Utility knives: Leather can be thick and tough. You need knives that are not only sharp but sturdy. Cutting blades get dull quickly, and dull blades lead to cutting accidents, so make sure you get a utility knife that has replaceable blades.
- Awls: Also called punches, awls are long, pointed tools used primarily to punch holes in leather for stitching and lacing, like eyelets in your shoes.
- Cutting mats: When you are cutting leather, you usually will be working at a table or desk. Protect your table from damage while you are cutting and punching; have a mat, board or some other surface to go between the leather and the work surface.
- Stamps: These dies are used to imprint letters, numbers, patterns and designs into the surface of your leather goods. Serious leatherworkers collect stamps of all kinds as they become more skilled.
- Mallets: If you are using stamps, you need a mallet. Some mallets have metal heads, but look for mallets with heads made of rubber or hard plastic, which are better surfaces for tapping and pounding metal stamps into leather goods.
- Needles: Leather is harder to work with than fabric, so leatherworking needles need to be big and sturdy. If you do a lot of stitching, you want a good selection of needle types, sizes and configurations.
- Waxed thread: Because leather is tough, the thread used to stitch leather pieces together needs to be, too. Choose different sizes and colors of waxed thread for your projects.
- Beeswax: Beeswax is used to lubricate punches and awls and to coat and finish your leather works.
To learn even more about leatherworking kits, take a look at the full leatherworking kit buying guide from BestReviews.
What to look for in a quality leatherworking kit
- Round knife: This crescent-shaped blade cuts by rocking it across the leather.
- Skiving knife: This tool is used to slice thinner sections so the leather is easier to work with and all attached pieces overlap more neatly.
- Swivel knife: This is a small knife with a cradle instead of a handle. You use it to cut artistic, free-form designs into the leather.
- Rotary punch: Where you would use an awl to make holes for sewing leather pieces together, you use a rotary punch to make the holes you need to insert snaps, rivets and decorative metal items.
- Drive punch: Drive punches come in different sizes to create holes of various diameters. Leatherworkers select the size hole they need, then hammer the punch into and through the leather.
- Wing divider: This clever little tool is very useful yet rarely comes in a leatherworking kit. It is used as a measuring device so you can keep the distance between the holes consistent and the lines straight.
How much you can expect to spend on a leatherworking kit
Most quality leatherworking kits cost between $20 and $40. Kits over $40 start to include some of the optional tools that are valued by serious leatherworkers.
Leatherworking kit FAQ
Is there a correct way to hold leatherworking tools?
A. Yes. As with all tools, if you don’t hold them correctly, you will not get the results you hope to achieve. Take the time to learn the proper way to hold and use each tool.
How can you make leather easier to handle?
A. The process of softening leather to make it more pliable and easier to handle is called casing. Traditional casing involves completely submerging the leather you will be working with in clean water. When the leather is fully soaked, allow the excess water to drip off and seal the damp leather in a trash bag from which you have removed as much air as possible. Start working the leather when it has almost returned to its natural color.
What’s the best leatherworking kit to buy?
Top leatherworking kit
BAGERLA 273 Piece Leatherworking Tool Kit
What you need to know: This kit has 273 leatherworking tools.
What you’ll love: This leatherworking kit contains all the tools you need. The punches, knives, scissors, pliers and awls are easy to grip and use. This kit includes a letter and number stamping kit for personalizing belts, wallets, key cases and more.
What you should consider: This is a pricey leatherworking kit.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top leatherworking kit for the money
AMPSEVEN 20 Piece Leatherworking Kit
What you need to know: This is a basic set of nicely made leatherworking tools for the beginner.
What you’ll love: These are all the tools you need to get started creating your own designs and artwork on leather bags, belts, wallets and purses.
What you should consider: The stamps could be of higher quality.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
BUTUZE 34 Piece Leather Repair Kit
What you need to know: You can repair the stitching on all your leather goods with this simple leatherworking kit.
What you’ll love: This is a good leatherworking kit for beginners. All tools in this sewing kit are made with premium-quality materials. In addition to making small repairs, you can use these tools to do small leatherworking projects.
What you should consider: This kit has no stamps for decorative work.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.