Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Learning Leathercraft with Jim Linnell – Lesson 1: Preparing Your Leather

Near the beginning of July, we asked our social media followers what kind of advice the would request from award-winning leatherworker Jim Linnell.  With over 100 responses, Jim selected some specific questions to answer while offering some of his best technique advice to get the best results from your leatherwork!  Join us in this weekly series on carving a wallet back with tips and tricks from Jim Linnell!

Find the free pattern for this project on the Leathercraft Library at bit.ly/LearnWithLinnell



Materials Used In Lesson 1:

Printed Pattern

Tracing Film


Scotch Tape


4-5 oz Vegetable Tanned Leather

Rubber Cement


Wing Divider


A few things learned from this video:

Tracing your pattern on to tracing film is one of the first places that you will want to be patient and pay attention to detail.  Having a nice, cleanly traced design helps your finished project to be as accurate as possible.

Tandy Leather Leathercraft Tool Tip: Tracing Film

Taping down your tracing film to the pattern will help you realign the two when checking to make sure that all of the lights have been traced.  Using a ruler on straight lines will help you keep your pattern centered when transferring it to the leather.

Tandy Leather Leathercraft Tool Tip: Using A Ruler

Gluing your leather to a piece of cardboard or matboard helps prevent the leather from stretching as you tool it, as well as allowing more depth in tooling with thinner leathers.  It is important to use rubber cement rather than contact cement or other adhesives as rubber cement offers a temporary bond that allows for the backing to be removed when you are done tooling.

Tandy Leather Leathercraft Tool Tip: Rubber Cement

Moisture content is important to get clean impressions and the right burnish in your tooling.  Start by saturating the leather fairly thoroughly in your initial wetting, penetrating at least half of the way through the leather, and then allow the leather to begin to return to its natural color before tooling.

Taping the back of your project to your work surface before tracing ensures that the leather does not move during the tracing step.

Using a stylus is the ideal way to trace patterns in to your leather.  Press lightly and retrace the pattern on to your leather to create a shallow imprint that can later be used for carving.  Be deliberate and careful, making sure to follow the lines as closely as possible for a clean pattern on your leather to begin with.

Tandy Leather Leathercraft Tool Tip: Tracing With A Stylus

Using a pen, pencil, or other utensil to trace the pattern may puncture the tracing film and leave a permanent mark on your leather.   Using the right tools is important.

When tracing the flower centers, use a dotted line rather than a solid line.  This will allow for cleaner seeding in later steps.

Wing dividers work great to trace straight, consistent lines for the borders of your project.

Tandy Leather Leathercraft Tool Tip: Using A Wing Divider


Join us next week as we move on to the next step of the project, swivel knife cutting!