Leather tool quality explanation


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A newbie question--Can or should you use stamps originally made for work in non-ferrous metal working? Please say yes because I have made a lot of stamps;) ...Teddy


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And, another question. I want to make my own round knives. Can I weld a piece of steel to a piece of 1084 in a T shape before shaping, then shape the blade, and then H/T it?


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I appreciate all the advice folks. I have been trying to learn all that I can and appreciate the feedback.

Paul, I had emailed you a week or so ago with a few questions (where did you get your exotic leathers, deerskin and your thread colors) and you responded very quickly. I'm Eric...and your answers were awesome! I greatly appreciated it! As I mentioned in that email, I do have your basic and advanced videos, just need to get the Tips video sometime soon. I also have Chucks video as well! AS you said, they have done wonders for showing me things I didn't know. I've read a lot of your posts, Sandy's and Chucks on the various forums.

This was entirely about learning what the tools could do. Sometimes a tool can take you forward leaps and bounds, and sometimes (such as the case is here) it appears only skill can allow you to use the better tools to the point it makes sense to purchase them. I have a made a few new leather working friends who have various stamps by different makers and I was thinking I might try to borrow some in order to compare them. I was thinking of taking a basketweave stamp, since it appears that is one every person feels needs to be top notch quality and try to perform measurements, observe the finish and crispness of the pattern as well as take close up pictures to show differences between them all. I'm no pro, but perhaps not knowing anything will help me look at everything I can possibly think of! Maybe it will helps others who start down this path too!

Paul Long

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goldsmithy: You most probably can use the stamps on leather, but I'm not sure what the quality of the impression will be. Just try it on a test basis on some scrap leather first.

As far as the knife making goes, that's above my pay grade. I can cover them with leather, but I can't make 'em. I will tell you that all my round knives are one piece of metal with stick tangs, and the whole thing is heat treated and then the handle is installed and pinned. L6 ( old circle saw blades) makes a mighty fine performing round knife. I also just took delivery of a fine M4 blade by Joe Kious. I prefer thickness of the total blade and tang not to exceed 40 thousandths.

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And, another question. I want to make my own round knives. Can I weld a piece of steel to a piece of 1084 in a T shape before shaping, then shape the blade, and then H/T it?

Yes, I am not a welder but I have had carbon steels like 1084 welded to carbon steel Damascus to save cost on the Damascus and 440c welded to stainless Damascus for the same reason.

The few round knives I made I cut out of a sheet of O-1 tool steel and the leather workers said they worked great.

Paul Long

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Eric: The "Tips" DVD goes into pretty complete detail on quite a few subjects, but one of the most important is how to run the basket weave stamp and get it perfect every time. I think you'll find that interesting and time saving. It would probably be wise to go ahead and invest in the higher quality basket weave and other geometrics right from the start. They are perfect top to bottom and side to side so you don't have to pick up the tool the exact same way each time you use it to get perfect alignment of the pattern. This perfection is a function of both tool quality AND practice, but practicing with the tool you will end up with will advance the whole process more rapidly.



Dealer - Purveyor
I know that custom made tools are better not because they are custom because the quality of steel the hardening and tempering and the skilled use of a cnc .I have never been a big fan of big name products most the time the guy over prices himself because he could care less if he sells anything. Its nice to get better quality stuff but it doesn't always mean the level of craftsmanship will get better. I see from what you have done with basic tools would your work improve x300% compared to the price of one tool costing 80 dollars vs 20 from tandy. I have ruined lots of tools from tandy and they just hand me another free.If you broke a tool from a custom maker I doubt he will give you another hell tell you you misused it. I do believe in you get what you pay for but you can modify and improvise what you have. kelly


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The difference in price and categories relates ( for most any product) quality. You can work with cheaper; but you (usually) get what you buy.


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I agree with Paul, most maker have LOTS of tools but only use about 10 favorites. I can floral carve a whole saddle with 10 tools.
To answer your question about tools you get what you pay for most of the time
Tandy- really old ones are OK, new ones are a waste of money
Gomph-Hackbarth- more expensive and not as good as they used to be. I always stamp with one them before I buy it
Barry King- affordable, sharp impression, predictable. This is what I use the most of on my saddles. Also his swivel knives, mauls or mallets,and other accessories are all very high quality
Robert Beard- expensive and mostly used for figure carving. Wasted money for general leatherwork, but they sure are nice to look at
Horseshoe brand/Jeremiah watt- on par with barry king but made overseas, I might have one I use
Bob Douglas- best edgers and sewing awls on the planet
Terry Knipshield- the leading round knife maker in the saddlemaking community since Buchman died

What you are paying for is material in manufacture and attention to detail. A Barry King tool will make a better looking piece of work than a Tandy any day of the week even if you are a beginner


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I have made a sold about ten knifes/sheaths this year so far. I use some Tandy tools and some I made by hand. The only thing I can tell you is buy the best lacing chisels’ (1,2,4,6 hole) you can afford. I thought I got a deal on a set and they bend going through leather. This makes a misalignment on the back side. Other than that I like the Tandy stuff.
Good luck