Introduction: Handmade Tools for Leather Tooling

Picture of Handmade Tools for Leather Tooling


I always have thought that at some point everyone is lucky, you just have to find your spot, the place and the time where you, by doing what you really enjoy, certainly will find your luck.

A few months ago I somehow stumbled upon this website, and thought: "Why not?". So I published my first instructable. It was amazing that in few weeks more than 10 000 people had seen my instructable, however I was even more amazed when my second instructable reached double the views in a few DAYS...

I entered some contests, thinking that there's no possibility that I might win....

But I WON two times!! What are the odds, that I out of hundreds of participants could even win the runner up prize. In my whole life I've won something three maybe four times. I was so happy even for such a small prize..

I should cut to the chase. What I wanted to say is that I'm glad that there are people who make such websites, they give a chance to everybody... Thank You Instructables Team!! (I hope at least one of the team will read this ;D)

As the prize for the Leatherworking contest i got DIY wallet. It is a great wallet, but I wanted it it to be even better, so I decided to make some tools (Because i'm too impatient to order them and wait untill i get them), so i could make it look classy and awsome!


  • Angle grinder
  • Files


  • Piece of steel
  • Piece of wood
  • Glue
  • Few big bolts

Step 1: Knife for Lines

Picture of Knife for Lines

I don't know precise name for this tool, it's used to cut lines in the leather.

I took a piece of steel, cut off a slice and grinded it.

Step 2: Handle for Knife

Picture of Handle for Knife

Next I took apiece of wood, drilled a hole and glued the blade in it.

After that I grinded of the spare wood, and I also grinded a curve on the top of the tool, so it would be easy to hold it.

Step 3: Pounding Tool I

Picture of Pounding Tool I

I simply grinded the bolt to certain form.

Then i filed diognal lines on the top of the bolt.

Step 4: Pounding Tool II

Picture of Pounding Tool II

The second one is the same, only a bit smaller than the previous.

Step 5: Finished Wallet and Tools

Picture of Finished Wallet and Tools

Using the tools i made, I cut out this figure (It's an ancient Latvian symbol, it represents fertility and richness) and using the pounding tool I pounded around the symbol, it's essential that you wet the leather before any tooling!!



lazyboy395 (author)2014-09-29

personally, i liked how you made your own tools for this project, and how you used your own prize to try and win another prize. you really earned your votes

ElmarsM (author)lazyboy3952014-09-29

Thanks a lot man!

thundrepance (author)2014-09-11

this is amazing!! you look too young to be so accomplished! i voted for you :D

ElmarsM (author)thundrepance2014-09-11

Yeah, many have said that :D

Thanks for the vote!

Jacob Dambergs (author)2014-09-08

Excellent instructable! I recognized the symbol and had to read through to see if you were aware of it's origin or if you came up with it on your own. Well done.

ElmarsM (author)Jacob Dambergs2014-09-08


Nate288 (author)2016-08-09

This tutorial and the work you did are amazing! How sharp do you recommend the cutting tool be, though?

ElmarsM (author)Nate2882016-08-11

Thank you! It shouldn't be razor sharp, but sharp enough to split leather!

Nate288 (author)ElmarsM2016-08-12

You're welcome! Thanks for the advice! :D

ArmchairP (author)2016-02-25

Wow! I've been wondering how easy it would be to make my own leather tools because they're so expensive to buy. Great tutorial!

ElmarsM (author)ArmchairP2016-02-26

Thank you!

Govind S Kumar (author)2015-08-30

is this pure leather made of animal hide?

ElmarsM (author)Govind S Kumar2015-08-30

Yes, yes it is

eladejarl (author)2015-02-06

Looks good. I like Of The Wand and The Moon too.

dewanm (author)2014-12-17

thanks for sharing good idea of making ur own tool for work

TrollFaceTheMan (author)2014-09-27

Very cool Project :)

ElmarsM (author)TrollFaceTheMan2014-09-27


TrollFaceTheMan (author)ElmarsM2014-09-28

Thank you!

dudehenry (author)2014-09-20

Definitely going to use some of these techniques for my silversmithing

ElmarsM (author)dudehenry2014-09-21

That's awsome!!

davefustin (author)2014-09-08

Very good Job on this instruction you used the KISS principle (Keep It Super Simple) which it the best type of instruction. I was wondering about making my own tooling and now you have opened a whole new world of ideas for me. Thank you for taking your time to teach with this.

thundrepance (author)davefustin2014-09-11

nice of you to phrase it that way, instead of: "keep it simple, stupid!" :)

ElmarsM (author)davefustin2014-09-08

No problem dude ;D its fun to make these instructables and its even better if someone appreciates my work

neffk (author)2014-09-04

I enjoyed this article. I'm always a fan of making your own tools. And with leather, you don't even need to harden the metal, which makes it even easier.

BTW, the bit about winning some contest... Congratulations and all that. Why don't you put that somewhere else, like mybook for facespace? That first few sentences should be describing your article. I mean, there's isn't a strict format but that's what people are looking for when they hit this page.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to make a pounding tool.

Eh Lie Us! (author)2014-09-02

great craftsmanship.

dirizary (author)2014-08-31

Very cool.

halfman1978 (author)2014-08-31

For tool handles I like to grab assorted roll pins from Harbor Freight and just drill through the wood and the tool handle with a drill bit slightly smaller than the roll pin then tap it in instead of using glue. Especially if you're going to be hammering the tool since the hammering tends to separate the glue.

ElmarsM (author)halfman19782014-08-31

Thanks for the tip! But the swivel knife with the wooden handle isn't used for hammering!

GyroGearLoose47 (author)2014-08-31

Hand made leather stamping tools, go cat, go!

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-08-31

well done

terrefirmax2 (author)2014-08-30

And don't forget the safety glasses, esp when grinding metal! Great inventiveness.

AUG-5OM3 (author)2014-08-30

Very useful thanks alot!

Phiske (author)2014-08-29

nice job and great pics! Keep it up

ElmarsM (author)Phiske2014-08-29


Ray from RI (author)2014-08-29

Did you heat treat the tools or just leave them as it? In any event very cool...!

ElmarsM (author)Ray from RI2014-08-29

There was no need of heat treating them as I'm only using them for leather. Thanks!

savagegirl (author)2014-08-28

Thanks, I'm kind of changing careers at an awkward time, so the experiments I publish are really the seeds of my next vocation. Metalsmithing is what I did for 17 years until a kitchen accident changed my hand strength and precision never recovered, so while I do all I can to regain it, I am planning for what if I don't.
I appreciate the follow and interest, and look forward to your next projects.

savagegirl (author)2014-08-28

I definitely will when I'm ready, I might start with a couple of shoe remakes, like actually redyeing shoes, and doing a Dr Scholls ramake. I'm just starting to get close to the results I want in shoes from the beginning and working on wood footbeds and hand made felt uppers lined with reclaimed silk dyed by hand. So probably I'll work for a few months and then publish a series. I might do those easier ones soon as their own series. They will be my first.

The shearling jacket I'm making this fall and the leather 'muslin' with a button-out wool lining to test the pattern are all on my slate to share.

Right now, it's out to the dyepots so my dyeing for the year is done before it's cold. I was also thinking about adding a metal element to those 2 layer leather buckles by riveting . Let me know if you're interested in that or hardening and tempering.
I could do those easily and It would let you use coins or found objects and open up possibility.

Congrats again and I'm happy to assist with any more advanced tool making.

ElmarsM (author)savagegirl2014-08-28

you are the first person i'm following (I really want to see your instructables), so, good luck with your projects

seamster (author)2014-08-28

Awesome job!

savagegirl (author)2014-08-28

Congrats on your successes here. I have been making stamps for metalwork that I'm now using for leather. The only difference is that mine were made from tool steel that I got for free, and my backup stock is more free tool steel and a jar of 10 penny nails. Mine are also hardened and tempered, but that's for use on metal.
The name you were looking for on the cutting tool is swivel knife, but I just have an econo version that is fixed. I do a little stamping but I mostly make clothing and am learning to make shoes. So it's only on belts I ever would stamp or small cases, My next business cards, whatever they say.

ElmarsM (author)savagegirl2014-08-28

Thanks!! Yeah, I didn't see any reason to make the tools out of high quality steel if i'm only using them for leather. You should definately make an Instructable about shoe making!! I would love to see how to do it!

About This Instructable



Bio: I'm a simple guy from a simple country called Latvia. I enjoy making useful (and sometimes not so useful) stuff to make people around ... More »
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