Back to basics – tools you need to start leather work

Back to basics – tools you need to start leather work

Back to basics – tools you need to start leather work

6th October 2022

Cut, stitch, finish – here’s our rundown of the tools you’ll need if you want to start crafting leather designs.


You are going to have to cut the leather to the right shape, so a decent knife is essential. Craft knives work well, as they are sturdy with very sharp, replaceable blades. Strong and sharp is what you need.

Cutting Mat

If you don’t want to destroy your working environment, you will need a cutting mat. Even self-healing ones won’t last forever, but they are a lot cheaper and easier to replace than a workbench.


You cannot simply sew all but the most delicate of leather, you need to punch holes for your stitches. You will need a selection of chisels of different sizes so you can punch them through the leather with a mallet.


See above! A decent plastic mallet will do the job, last longer than a wooden one and slip less than a metal one.

Stitching Awl

This can be used to push thread through the pre-punched holes or widen existing ones.


Needles for stitching leather are bigger than normal sewing needles. The eye needs to accommodate strong, waxed thread and the point doesn’t need to be sharp as the holes will be pre-punched. You will need a selection of needles for difference thicknesses of thread, which will depend on the delicacy of the work you are doing.


Sometimes a design will require you to make the leather thinner – or ‘skive’ it. There are long open-bladed versions of skivers, but for beginners it is best to choose the type that looks a bit like a vegetable peeler. They have a metal guard that will stop you taking off too much leather.


This is a small, sharp-notched tool that trims the edge of the leather on an angle to leave a bevelled finish.


This creates a groove in which you can punch stitching holes. Its use means the stitching will sit flush with or below the top of the leather.