A simple method for making your own leather tooling punches.

I saw this idea in a '60s leather work book many years ago, it's great so the world should know. I haven't since been able to find the book, if anyone recognises it please post the reference.

Simply, you use metal files and/or a hack saw to work the head of a nail.

  • Nails

  • Metal file(s)
  • Junior hacksaw

For tooling leather:
  • Hammer
  • Base to hammer against (sturdy wood block)
  • Water

Step 1: Shape the nail head

The trickiest part of this is finding a nice design, it has to be fairly simple. Repeating patterns work well, squares, triangles, chevrons etc.

But today I fancy... Pacman!

Picture 1
File the nail head flat, then set to work on the edges...

Picture 2
The second picture shows the edge of the nail head has been filed so the top is sharper.

Picture 3
Then remove metal until your image is revealed. The use of a fine tipped permanent marker may help.

Picture 4
For Pacman I filed a wedge out of one side using the edge of a rectangular file then drilled a small hole with a fine bit. For the ghost three sides were filed flat, I cut in twice with the hacksaw on the base edge then opened the cut with a file.

-Drilling metal always requires a centre to be punched so the bit can bite!

Once shaped you can cut the point of the nail off with a hacksaw as this is the end you will strike.

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