Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Leather Lacing Tips & Tricks

Leather Lacing Tips From Tandy Leather

Lacing is a highly decorative method of sewing leather projects together with lace of the same or differing colors for the desired look.  Leather edge lacing is often used with tooled leathers as the combination of styles complement one another for a professional looking finish for your handmade leather goods.  With instruction, and a little practice, your technique with lacing may develop in to one of your favorite finishing methods.

Although many different types of lace are available, leathercrafters can also cut their own lace for specialized colors or to save money.  By using scrap leather and the Craftool Lace Maker, you can cut your own lace from a circle or square of scrap leather!

The Single Loop stitch is best suited for lacing the edges of lightweight leathers or single thickness of leather, as little lace is required to cover the raw edge.  This is great for projects like a key fob or small coin purse.

The Double Loop stitch covers a wider area and is used on heavier leather for projects such as wallets, purses, or small bags. It covers a wider surface especially where two thicknesses of leather require more lacing to cover the edge.

The Triple Loop stitch can be used with thicker leathers or when you want a thicker accent on projects such as belts and large bags. This stitch is used where two or more thicknesses of leather require additional lacing to cover the raw edge.

NOTE: When lacing, it helps to have the front side of the project facing the lacer.


George Hurst also had a few lacing tips he wanted to contribute as well:

Condition Lace– Your leather lace will glide through leather smoother and mold to the edge of the leather better when treated with leather conditioner.  Dr. Jacksons Leather Conditioner or any other conditioner should work for this, simply apply to the lace with a sponge, sheepwool remnant or soft cloth.   Allow a few minutes for the conditioner to penetrate the leather and then wipe excess with a soft cloth.

Protect Leather Lace – When lacing through leather, be sure to pull the lace straight through each hole.  Pulling it up or down will cause wear on the lace and weaken it.

Lace Length Requirements – The follow will show you how much lace will normally be required to complete a project.  To preserve the strength and quality of the lace, the amount used should be no more than 2 yards with splicing as needed.

Running Stitch – 1 1/2 times the length to be laced

Whip Stitch – 3 1/2 times the length to be laced

Single Loop Stitch – 5 1/2 times the length to be laced

Double Loop Stitch – 7 times the length to be laced

Triple Loop Stitch – 9 times the length to be laced

Finishing Touch To Double Loop Lacing – After lacing is completed, tap lightly with a mallet to flatten it.  Apply a leather conditioner and smooth with a wood edge slicker, canvas or denim.


More resources for learning about lacing:

Lacing & Stitching For Leathercraft Book

How To Lace Book

Double Loop Lacing Video

Double Loop Applique Lacing, Two-Tone Double-Looped Lacing and Triple Loop Lacing videos available as part of membership with the Leathercraft Library.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Leather Coloring 101

Leather Coloring 101

Although there are entire books written on different methods and techniques for coloring veg-tan leather, we thought we’d touch on a few of the basics for the beginning colorist.

For this introduction, we focus on water based coloring products.  They are low-odor, simple to clean up, easy to mix and don’t require solvents to be diluted.  There are also a wider variety of application techniques available and they are available globally.


Water Based Coloring Products:

Our Professional Waterstains, Leather Dyes and the All-In-One Stain & Finishes offer a consistent wash of color whereas Gel Antiques and Hi-Lite Color Stains accent cuts and impressions.  Cova Color acrylic paints sit on top of the leather whereas the other products listed soak in to the leather.  Learn more about the differences and applications on our YouTube channel for more information on Dyeing, Waterstains, and Antiques.


Eco-Flo Professional Waterstain – The waterstains offer vibrant, uniform color. The different stains come in a variety of colors and can be mixed for even more variation of color or thinned with water to reduce the intensity of the color.  These stains are a special water-based, semi-fluid wax that won’t bleed or rub off and can be used on both the grain and flesh sides of vegetable tanned leathers.

Leather Coloring 101

Eco-Flo Leather Dye – These transparent colors are formulated to penetrate the surface of natural veg-tanned tooling leather.  They can also be thinned with water or mixed together for additional hue options.  Let dry completely after application and buff between coats to remove excess color from the surface.

Eco-Flo All-In-One Stain & Finish – Color and finished combined!  These are excellent to use when drying time may be an issue, however they are also great for beginners, kids and groups!  Only one coat is recommended and additional top finish is optional.


Eco-Flo Gel Antique – This gel antique is designed to give your veg-tanned leather a rich aged look.  It will collect in the cuts and impressions of your design to bring out the details of your work.  It can also be used to highlight the natural imperfections in leather, emphasizing the uniqueness of each piece.

Eco-Flo Hi-Lite Color Stains – Similar to Gel Antique, this liquid acts as a light stain that brings out and enhances cuts and impressions.

Leather Coloring 101


Eco-Flo Cova Colors – These acrylic paints were developed specifically for leather.  Whereas the other products listed soak in to the leather, acrylic paint sits on top of the leather.  They are opaque, however can be thinned with water to reduce intensity which can be used as a “wash” to tint areas.

Leather Coloring 101


A few things to know going in:

Shake your dyes, stains and antiques before using each time to make sure that the color is evenly distributed in the liquid.

Each leather will respond to coloring slightly different.  Always test color on a scrap from the same leather you are making your project out of to ensure proper color.   Some dyes dry lighter or darker, so let your sample dry completely to see the end result of the color.  Note that drying time can vary depending on temperature and humidity.

Dyes are excellent coloring organic materials… which can include your clothing and skin.  Be attentive when using dyes and always wear gloves.

Be aware that most coloring is intended for the grain (smooth) side of the leather, not the flesh side (back).  The texture on the rough side of the leather may be too porous and irregular to be sealed properly and can color can rub off even if it is sealed.  To achieve color and smooth texture on both sides of a project, such as a belt, you can sew two separate pieces of leather together so that there will the smooth surface on each side.



Leather Coloring 101

When coloring with dyes and stains, sponges are ideal for application.  For even coloring, you can continue to buff the color in to the leather for about a minute (especially with the more vibrant colors) as it can help spread the pigment evenly.

When coloring with Antiques or Hi-Lite, use a non-fibrous applicator like a buffing towel and color the tooled areas first.

For All-In-One Stain & Finish, sheep wool or a soft cloth is ideal for application.

Daubers are handy for small projects and edging, but not ideal for larger surface areas.

Acrylic paints are painted on with a paint brush.  You can also use a paint brush to apply small amounts of dye for detail work on more intricate designs.

Tip: For even coloring, do not apply dye directly onto leather from the bottle, but rather use one of the applicators listed above.  If dye is applied directly to the leather from the bottle, it may cause over saturation in a single spot and can be difficult to disperse color evenly.

Tip: When dyeing leather, you may want more than one application of color to get an even tone.  Whether applying in  circular motion technique or using an overlapping stroke technique, wait until the project is dry and then go over the entire surface again in the opposite direction.

Leather Coloring 101



When the leather has dried, you will want to buff it with a clean, dry cloth to remove any excess pigment before sealing.  Sealing color is important to make sure that it will not rub off on clothing and other surfaces.

For sealing waterstains, we strongly recommend using our Eco-Flo Professional Finish.  This durable finish was developed specifically for offering an expert finish with our waterstains and comes in high gloss or matte.

Super Shene are Sating Shene are good, all purpose sealants and can be used on any of the materials listed above to provide a water resistant seal.  Super Shene will add a glossy appearance to your finished product whereas Satin Shene will have more of a muted appearance.

Leather Coloring 101

Tip: Super Shene can be used prior to coloring with Antiques and Highlights to prevent coloring in selected areas.  For more information on this technique, watch our video Resisting Techniques!

Note: Some finishes will pick up a small amount of color from water based dyes. To guard against smears on background dyed projects, multi-colored figure or pictorial carved projects, apply finish on dyed area with a brush first to lock-in colors before applying final overall coat with a sponge or soft cloth.


Learn more about dying techniques with George Hurst and Charlie Davenport on our YouTube channel:

Overlay & Inlay Dyeing

Block Dyeing Technique 

Antique Finishing

How to Use the Pro Series Waterstains


Visit our website for books on Coloring:

Coloring Leather by Al Stohlman

Coloring with Eco-Flo (Available In Spanish)

Monday, 4 May 2015

Tandy Leather Camp Crafts

It’s not uncommon that we’ll have a customer come in and show us a key fob that their grandchild crafted for them at camp or a wallet they made in their youth.  Leathercraft is a tangible memory of time spent at summer camp.

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

If you are involved in planning a summer program (or know someone who is), it’s not too late to include leathercraft to provide a unique experience that campers can cherish.  Contact your local Tandy Leather location to find out more about setting up your space for leatherworking and how to train your counselors to teach the craft.


Great Kit Projects For Campers:

Pocket Coin Holder Kit

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

Compass Case Kit

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

Leather Wristband

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

Dream Catcher Kit

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

Magic Billfold Kit

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

Key Fob Kits

Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps


Tandy Leather's Leathercraft For Camps

Learn more about leather crafts ideas for camps on www.tandyleather.com

Monday, 23 March 2015

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather

It’s not uncommon that we’ll have a customer come in and show us a project that was passed down to them from a family member or mentor.  Whether you are preserving an heirloom or just keeping your boots oiled, it’s good to know what conditioners to use for different projects.

Note: Most leather conditioners are intended for smooth finished leathers, not suede or nubuck.  Conditioners may darken light colored leathers, so test in an inconspicuous area first.


Dr. Jackson’s Leather Conditioner – This product is one of the most effective ways to restore the new look to leather.  It nourishes, softens and protects while extending the life of the leather.  Use as a regular maintence program to keep your leather articles looking their best.

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather


Dr. Jackson’s Hide Rejuvenator – This paste is great for restoring old, dried out smooth leather items such as boots, garments and saddles, as well as upholstered furniture and vehicle interiors.  It actually replaces natural oils, cleans, softens, protects and increases water repellency.  This is the finest leather restorative available.

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather


Canauba Crème – This product is a water based, blended wax conditioner and finish for natural or dyed, new or aged smooth leather.  It provides a durable wax finish that resists water and dirt while conditioning leather.   This product will not seal color, so if using with a dyed project, apply a finishing coat after the Canauba Crème.

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather


Tandy Pure Neatsfoot Oil – Neatsfoot Oil is a natural preservative used for conditioning, softening and preserving leather.  The primary function of this product is to replace evaporated oil with other natural oils.  It is great for reconditioning and oiling leather working equipment like saddles, baseball gloves, horse tack & harnesses and other outdoor gear.

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather

Tip: When working on large projects (i.e. saddles) that are saturated and allowed to dry multiple times, the water can remove some of the natural oils and make the leather more rigid.  Adding Neatsfoot Oil between tooling and dying can help better preserve the leather, however you will want to make sure that it is oiled evenly and wait 12-24 hours after oiling to ensure that the project is dry to prevent uneven coloring when dyeing.


Tandy Prime Neatsfoot Oil Compound – This medium weight oil is heavier than Pure Neatsfoot and is ideal for saddles, tack and boots that need oil that is easily absorbed in to leather with deep.  The combination of essential and synthetic oils helps lubricate fibers and restores suppleness to leather.

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather


Fenice’s Leather Care Kit – This kit proves everything you need to care for your furniture leather.  It contains a mild cleaner that thoroughly cleans leather while maintaining its natural beauty and feel, as well as a protective cream, which creates a protective barrier allowing leather to remain clean and soft for years to come.  It also includes an ink remover that removes recent ink stains, lipstick and chocolate.

A Guide For Tandy’s Leather Conditioners & Oils By Tandy Leather


Tip: More conditioner is not always better.  Always apply oils and conditioners in light coats, never in heavy coats.  You can apply multiple light layers to reach the desired consistency, however you cannot remove the oil once it is in the leather.  Start lightly and work conditioner in to the leather until it is absorbed evenly.  Buff off excess product with a soft, dry cloth to prevent leftover conditioner coming off on other materials.

Monday, 9 March 2015

What Is Stropping And Why Is It So Important?

You will hear time and time again “Make sure you frequently strop your swivel knife!”, but what does that really mean?  If it’s not actually sharpening the blade, what about stropping makes cutting more effective?


When leather is tanned, there are a number of different tanning agents used in the tanning process.  When carving in to your leather, some of these small particles can accumulate on your knife while cutting.  This microscopic build up on your blade can create tiny amounts of friction and prevent the knife from moving smoothly through the leather, which can create a dragging feeling in your swivel knife cuts.

Jewelers Rouge is a compound that has a slight grit to it and works as a polishing agent, so it can help remove the buildup of these unwanted particles.  Stropping also polishes the swivel knife blade producing a shiny, mirror like finish which cuts down on the drag felt when cutting.   The key for swivel knife cuts is that the blade is sharp, shiny and smooth to get the most control on your cuts!


Learn more about the use and care of the Swivel Knife on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNnC44AugUw

Use & Care


You may have also seen our other polishing compounds online or in our stores.  Similar to Jewelers Rouge, these polishing compounds are used to smooth and/or shine a wide variety of metals. Polishing compounds are similar to sandpaper in that they are used from coarse to fine. It is important to first determine what type of polishing compound to use. Polishing compounds also minimizes, or removes the appearance of scratches on surfaces by effectively buffing them out.

Polishing Compounds

White: Used for light polishing. Primarily used in the final finish of steel, stainless steel and zinc.

Red: Used for regular cleaning of metals. Most common uses of this iron oxide compound are for steel blades and precious metals like jewelry.

Green: Used for high gloss polishing. Primarily used in the final buffing stage for stainless steel, brass, aluminum, nickel and chrome. Considered the best all-around luster compound for most metals.

Grey: Used for heavy duty cleaning of hard metals. Produces a good cut with no wild scratches and works to good color on all metals.

Brown: Used for regular cleaning with hard metals. Good for removing light scratches, imperfections and oxidation. The most popular choice for cutting down and buffing base materials.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Adhesives: What To Use, When and Why


With so many types of adhesives, how do you know which one to use when?  We’re here to offer a little bit of insight on this sticky question.


Leather Glues

Eco-Flo Leather Weld* – Leather Weld is a great, general purpose adhesive that is strong and easy to use.  It is specially formulated for bonding leather, however can also be used to bond with cloth, wood, chipboard, and paper.  This makes it very popular for book binding and a variety of other multi-medium projects.  A benefit of Leather Weld is that it is moveable when first applied, so you have the opportunity to adjust your project in to place, and dries flexible.  The bond is permanent once allowed to dry for 24 hours, however it is not as strong of a hold when moisture remains.   It is also recommended to apply pressure to the joined surface until dry.  Leather Weld may be diluted with water if a lighter application is needed.


Tanner’s Bond Leathercraft Cement* – Very similar application and use as the Leather Weld, however Leathercraft Cement is ideal for youth crafts as it is faster drying and has less of a scent.



Contact Cements

EcoWeld Water Based Contact Cement* – One of the primary differences between glues and contact cements is in how they are applied.  To attach your leather pieces, you will need to apply the contact cement to both surfaces and let it air dry until it is sticky enough to bond to itself and stay on its own.  The benefit of this is that you do not have to clamp it, however the bond is not adjustable once positioned.  Allow to dry for 24 hours to get the optimal bond.


Tanner’s Bond Craftsman Contact Cement – This is a low V.O.C. solvent based adhesive, however it does not contain some of the chemicals considered hazardous in other similar adhesives.  Being solvent based, this adhesive is waterproof, making it a popular choice with professionals such as saddle makers and shoe makers.



Other Adhesives

Tanner’s Bond Craftsman Rubber Cement – Rubber cement helps hold pieces of leather together while you are lacing or putting in linings.  It is adjustable and allows you to take the pieces apart if needed.


Tanner’s Bond Adhesive Tape – Adhesive tape is a very handy two-sided tape that is fast to use and holds projects in place for lacing, stitching or when using punches and chisels.




Adhesive Tip: Finishes on leather can lessen the effectiveness of adhesives.  If applying adhesive to a smooth surface, rough the surface first with a Craftool Pro Detail Rougher or Sanding Stick!


*These adhesives are water based.  Different countries and states uphold significantly varying regulations on environmental standards, however our water based products have been developed to meet the strictest regulations.  Because they are water based, these liquids are non-flammable, however some may ruin if frozen.  Check page 159 of your catalog for a Liquid Symbols chart to know which of your liquids you should store at above 45 degrees Fahrenheit/7 degrees Celsius.

Need a Tandy Leather catalog?  Click here to get your free copy.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Skiving Tip From Stohlman’s Leathercraft Tools

Do you own a copy of Leathercraft Tools? This book by Stohlman is a wealth of knowledge, ideas and techniques that makes for a great addition to any shop!

Here is a tool tip from the book for cutting uniform depth with a skiver!





You can get a digital copy on the Leathercraft Library HERE, or order a hard copy HERE.

Description: Al Stohlman’s complete guide helps you with the proper selection, use and care of tools. Contains usage and sharpening tips for knives, punches, chisels, edgers and many other leathercraft tools. 97 pages.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Leather Repousse Technique with Charlie Davenport

LEATHER REPOUSSÉ by Charlie Davenport

Repoussé is the decorating technique of raising a design, or select portions of it, above the surface of the leather, by working the leather from the back side and giving them three-dimensional form.  Using this technique in conjunction with flat modeling or carving enables the artist to make leather a viable art medium. Unlike carving, tooling, or stamping where the leather is only worked from the grain side, repoussé is a process that combines working on both sides of the leather: the flesh side is worked to give it volume and form and the grain side to outline and define areas with detail.

Repoussé is done on vegetable-tanned leather. The most suitable type is calfskin, especially 3-4oz (3/64 – 1/16th inch) thick pieces, although some artist prefer thicknesses greater 5oz (5/64th inch).

PATTERN: Repoussé Project Pattern

  • The design is drawn on paper, velum, or tracing film.
  • Moisten the leather on the grain side with a sponge or spray bottle. The first time water is applied to the leather, it must be moistened evenly over the entire surface, and this is to prevent water stains appearing when the work is finished.
  • Transfer the design to the grain side of the leather by placing the design paper down on the dampened leather, then trace over the entire design with a stylus to the grain side by applying sufficient force to make an distinct impression on the leather.
  • Remove the design paper – Note: to ensure the design is entirely transferred prior to completely removing the design paper, by lifting one corner of the design paper to inspect the leather.
  • These lines must now be impressed more deeply into the leather. To do this place the leather grain side up, on a slab of marble, glass, or any hard working surface. Holding a small ball-end modeler as you would a pencil, increasing the pressure as you go over the outline of the design several times until the lines are depressed to the desired depth. Be sure to keep the depth of the depressed lines uniform. This should give a clear outline of the design on the flesh side. If water oozes up behind the modeler, let the leather dry a little. If the leather is, too damp it will not hold an impression well. If the modeler tends to scratch or break the surface of the leather, dampen the leather lightly on the grain side with a sponge. Dry leather will not take a good impression.
  • Now work the leather from the flesh side to raise areas from the back to give it volume. Hold the leather in one hand with the flesh side up which acts as a cushion. Using the ball-end modeler , work the leather from the flesh side by pressing firmly with the ball modelers while sliding it along the lines of the design. Use the modelers with different balls-tip sizes depending on the areas that need to be worked and the level of relief wanted.
  • The process continues by working both sides of the leather alternately, using different tools until the desired figures are achieved. To get good results with this technique, the leather must be somewhat flexible; therefore, it may be necessary to re-dampen the leather several time during the process.
  • Once the desired volume/depth is achieved, apply white glue on the flesh side to harden the leather and to make the leather hold its shape. Let the leather dry for about twelve hours. When the glue has dried it turns into a resistant and flexible film that helps maintain the desired shape also making it easier to continue working on it.
  • Mark the lines of the design with a spoon modeler. Press gently on the grain side, modeling the outline of the body of the design. To do this, use a modeler with a very fine/narrow spoon end with a slight curve.
  • Re-moisten the leather if needed.
  • Mark the small details of the design on the grain side, using the narrow point-spade end modeler and pressing firmly over the areas with very narrow spaces.
  • The rest of the designs outer contour is marked from the grain side, following the outline of the design and flattening at the same time, the surface of the leather that surrounds the design, to do this, use the spoon-end modeler with a medium-round tip.
  • Mark depressions of the design, outlining them with a spoon-end modeler to give it volume. The central depression of the design is deeply marked, while adjacent depressions are modeled from the inside out. This should give the piece a greater feeling of volume.
  • Now continue working the repoussé from the flesh side. Work on each of the areas between the depressions separately following the design in such a way that the central section will have the highest relief, while its sides will have less, decreasing toward the outside. The work always follows the sinuous shape of the design. Use a modeler with a small ball point.
  • Outline the interior lines with a round spoon-end modeler, pressing firmly on the grain side over the needed areas.
  • Go over again with the same modeler, flattening the area between two lines. Continue this process over entire design.
  • Allow to dry.
  • Stain or color the piece.
  • Seal.
  • Finished repoussé.

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