Simplifying What Tools To Start With When Carving Leather

Posted by Joe Meling on

Where to start, with such a wide variety of tool options in the leathercraft industry

There are no shortage of tool options when it comes to the leathercraft industry. The choices can be a bit overwhelming, specifically, when it comes to finding the necessary tools for a Sheridan based style of floral carving. Coming from two different perspectives, let's look at what tools I would recommend. These are the two main questions I get in regards to tool shopping.

What tools do I need to start leather carving for the first time?

Inexpensive beginner kits are a great place to start when you just want to figure out if you even like tooling leather. For a small investment you can play with it and get a feel for the craft. If that's where you are, I recommend a kit from Weaver Leather Supply called: Basic Tooling Set With Knife

Here is a video where I show all of the tools in this set plus more.

 What higher quality tools should I get to improve my tooling?

There is no question that higher quality tools make it much easier to produce higher quality products. Before you get frustrated in your results, especially when comparing them to someone else's results, you need to first compare what tools you are both using and how much time you've each had using those tools. 

As I said at the beginning, there are no shortage of options in higher quality tools and I have definitely not tried them all. The only thing that out numbers the tool options are the different opinions among the industry. With an artisan craft there is not one right answer. In my experience though, the best tools to step up to are Barry King Tools out of Wyoming.

Barry offers high quality tools, great customer service, and easy online ordering. I've broken my recommended list into two sections. The first section is what I would put together as a starter kit. These are also the tools I would start with if I was upgrading my tools one at a time making small investments over time. In the second section are tools I would add to my tool block but are not what I would consider essential to getting a pattern tooled.

Recommended Tool List for Barry King Tools

“Starter set”

  • Swivel knife- ⅜”barrel, ¼”straight thin blade
  • Bevel- xxsteep checkered #2
  • Veiner- Lined & scalloped #0
  • Thumbprint- Vertical medium #2
  • Bargrounders- #35 - 7 seed, 3 seed
  • Flower center- Plain center #2 (Could substitute style if preferred)
  • Mule’s foot- #0

“Add-on tools”

  • Bevel- xxsteep checkered #00
  • Round Bevel- Checkered #1
  • Thumbprint- Vertical #1
  • Seed- Plain #1
  • Center Shader- #1

To see these tools in action be sure to check out and subscribe to my YouTube page

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