Create a pattern, either using a preexisting or purchased pattern, or creating your own. In this case I created my own based on the final dimensions I wanted the bag to be.
Step 1: Choosing and Transferring Artwork to Be Tooled.
You can draw your artwork onto the pattern and then case the leather and transfer the pattern by tracing onto the wet leather with a stylus, or in this case, I used digital images and traced those onto the leather in the positions and sizes I had laid out on the pattern.
Step 2: Carving and Tooling
You'll need an array of different tools to embossing the designs into the leather. To do this by hand, you'll need a swivel knife for carving the edges of the designs, a series of different sizes of bevels, a couple circle stamps, and a backgrounding tool is optional. This can be a time consuming process so I only case (wet) one piece of leather at a time.
Step 3: Dying and Burnishing
Dye your pieces and burnish the edges before beginning the assembly process and stitching.
Step 4: Glueing, Stitching and Riveting
Interior compartments and inlays need to be glued to the frame work pieces that were tooled and dyed. Once the glue is set, punch stitching holes using prong punches and a leather maul. Only work with 2/3 pieces connected at once with glue, then as you stitch them, add the sides, bottom, etc, so you're not having to work with a large pile of pieces and stressing the glued joints until they're stitched. The entire bag is completed by hand, double needle style saddle stitching, then stress points were reinforced with brass rivets.
Step 5: Completion
Double check for loose thread, stress point integrity and finished using Satin Sheen. Custom made padded shoulder strap is clipped on the D loops and it's ready to go. A fully custom, chemistry themed briefcase/messenger bag hybrid made 100% by hand, in it's entirely by Lederhart.