Best Leatherworking Kits

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
308 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best leatherworking kits

Last Updated July 2020

One of the best ways to reduce the stress of everyday life is to find a hobby that you enjoy. Some people like doing puzzles, while others play video games. If you're looking for a hobby that benefits not only you but other people in your life as well, consider leatherworking. You can start with something basic like a bookmark and work up to a more complicated item like a purse. To get started, you'll need a leatherworking kit.

The best leatherworking kits include all the tools you need to complete a project. A good kit should also be versatile enough to allow you to fully express yourself in ways you may not yet have considered, whether it’s stamping, stitching, punching, or carving the leather.

If you'd like to learn about leatherworking kits and pick up a few tips for getting started, keep reading. If you’re stopping by for a few quick suggestions on which leatherworking kit is best, consider one of the options we've spotlighted on this page.

It’s better to spend more money on a smaller leatherworking kit that features the tools you need than to spend more money on a comprehensive kit with many tools that you may never use.

Key considerations

Essential tools

You want to make sure you get a leatherworking kit that includes all the tools you need. However, as a beginner, you might not know what those tools are. To help you out, the following is a list of some of the tools needed to work with leather. If any tool sounds like something you’d use for your project, make sure the kit you’re considering includes it or you’ll have to purchase the item separately.

Awl: The awl is a long, pointed tool that can be used to transfer a design to the leather by lightly scratching it into the surface. It can also be used to punch holes in leather for stitching. This is a necessary leatherworking tool.

Utility knife: You need a very sharp knife to cut leather, and often the best solution is a utility knife. It needs to be sharp (which means replacing the blades regularly) to reduce the chance of injury. If you’re tearing the leather instead of cutting it, the knife will be harder to control, making it easier for an accident to occur.

Cutting board/mat: You can't just cut through leather on your dining room table. You need a board or mat to work on so you don't damage your workspace or your blade.

Stamps: Stamps are used to imprint letters, numbers, patterns, and other decorative designs on the surface of the leather. They may only be available in more expensive leatherworking kits, but if you get serious about your craft, you’ll want to amass a large collection of different stamps.

Mallet: If you want to do any work that involves stamping, you’ll need a mallet. Unless you will also be using tools that punch through the leather, your mallet can be a lighter model that is easier to hold for extended periods of time.

Adjustable groover: This curious-looking tool has an adjustable arm that allows you to evenly mark your leather along the edges, making a groove so your stitching lines up perfectly and is recessed.

Needles: Leather isn't as easy to work with as fabric. You want a leatherworking kit that includes a wide variety of leather-stitching needles, both straight and curved.

Finger cots/thimbles: These devices help protect your fingers when sewing the leather with needles. If you do a lot of stitching, you will appreciate these items.

Waxed thread: You want to be careful when selecting the type of thread you use to stitch leather. Look for a kit that comes with an assortment of waxed thread that is tough enough for leather so you can match it up to the needs of your project.

Beveler/edger: A beveler is a tool with a groove in it. As you run it along the edge of your work, it rounds the corners to create a more stylized look.

Sandpaper: Sandpaper is used in leatherworking to smooth the edges of your work to give it a more professional look and prepare it for burnishing.

Wooden burnisher/slicker: This rounded wooden tool looks like an ornate stake. It’s used to smooth the edges of your leather to give your projects a more professional look.

Beeswax: One of the most useful items in your leatherworking kit is beeswax. It can be used for such tasks as coating thread, finishing edges, protecting the back of laces, and coating your punch drives so they work more efficiently.

Dye applicator: If you're going to be working with dye, you want to have on hand a few dye applicators, relatively inexpensive swabs attached to wire. You’ll find them in most kits.

Sponge: You need a sponge to moisten the leather so you can work on it, but you probably won't find one in a leatherworking kit. If you find a kit with a sponge, consider it a bonus. Otherwise, any clean sponge will do the trick for your leatherworking needs.

Case: You're going to need a safe place to keep all these marvelous tools so you don’t lose or damage them. A durable case is a highly desirable item.

EXPERT TIP

A sketchbook for developing your ideas is one essential component that won’t be included in your leatherworking kit.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Other tools

The following tools are also highly recommended, though you may have to purchase a more expensive leatherworking kit to find them. Many of these are different options for some of the tools listed above, but they will come in handy as you become more experienced at your craft.

Round knife: This crescent-shaped knife cuts by rocking it on top of the leather.

Skiving knife: This tool is used to reduce the thickness of the leather so it’s more pliable or better suited for overlapping.

Rotary punch: An awl is fine for making holes for stitching, but eventually you'll want a tool that is specifically designed for making the holes needed for rivets, snaps, and conchas (decorative metal disks). If that’s the case, a rotary punch with replaceable heads is what you need. It’s operated by squeezing it shut, like a hole punch that’s used for paper.

Drive punch: Like a rotary punch, this tool makes holes in leather. Instead of squeezing a device closed, you hammer the punch through the leather.

Rivets, snaps, and conchas: These are the bells and whistles of leatherworking that add style and pizzazz. A large assortment is always appreciated, but you will likely only find them in more expensive kits.

Pricking iron: Use this tool to achieve professional-looking, evenly spaced holes. A pricking iron resembles a fork with two or more prongs.

Wing divider: This amazingly versatile tool may be hard to find in a kit, but you'll definitely want one. It resembles a compass, but both ends are pointed. This tool is used as a measuring device to keep lines straight and distances consistent.

Swivel knife: This is a small metal tool is used to cut designs into leather. You hold it firmly in your hand while resting your index finger in a cradle on the top.

Bone folder: This inexpensive little tool helps you achieve sharper edges in molded leather.

EXPERT TIP

Learn the purpose of each tool so you know precisely which one is best to use in every situation. After that, you can get creative.


Staff  | BestReviews

Leatherworking kit prices

Inexpensive: In the kits that cost less than $15, you can expect to find a limited set of tools that may be designed for a specific task, such as stitching or stamping. If you want to focus on one skill, this may be the place to look. If you want a more comprehensive set of tools, however, you'll need to spend a little more.

Mid-range: From $15 to $40 is where you’ll find a quality leatherworking kit that features a larger variety of tools, ranging from thimbles and thread to scissors and a wood slicker. At the lower end of the price range, these kits are still more heavily focused on the sewing aspect of the craft.

Expensive: Once you move into the $40 to $80 range, you start to find leatherworking kits that include the all-important swivel knife, as well as stamps and maybe even a cutting mat. Additionally, these kits come in a convenient storage box so you can keep all of your leatherworking tools in one location.

EXPERT TIP

The key to professional leatherworking is paying attention to the details, such as centered holes, beveled edges, even spacing, and burnished edges.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

Leatherworking is both an art and a craft that requires a great deal of training, patience, and skill. It may take years to get to the level you want to achieve, but that just makes getting there all the more rewarding. The following tips can help you stay focused.

  • Prepare the leather. The biggest key to success in leatherworking is properly preparing the leather. If you take the time to learn how to do this, you will have much better results.
  • Keep your tools sharp and clean. To a point, you’re only as good as your tools. If you’re trying to use a dull swivel knife that rips and tears at the leather, you will never achieve that crisp, finely detailed design you crave.
  • Hold the tools correctly. Proper grip is essential. If you aren’t holding your tools correctly, you won’t get the results you want. Take the time to learn the proper way to hold and move each tool. Don't just watch a video and think you understand what’s happening. When watching a skilled leather worker, their actions may appear to be much simpler than they truly are.
  • Practice. Doing not only motivates you, it’s the only way to truly get better. Use scrap pieces of leather to test ideas and perfect methods and techniques.

Other products we considered

Because creativity should ultimately be your guide, we want to point out a few more highly rated options. If your focus is on sewing, the 31-piece Electop Leather Sewing Tools kit is an affordable yet versatile assortment of quality items that will be more than enough to handle all of your leather stitching needs.

If you'd like a little more variety, the 35-piece SIMPZIA Leather Craft Tools is a kit that also focuses mostly on stitching but also includes three different skiving knives and two bevelers.

If you want it all — rivets, buttons, swivel knife, hammer, an assortment of stamps, and more — the BAGERLA Leatherworking Tools and Supplies Kit features 273 pieces and a travel case so you won't lose a single item.

Leatherworking involves using sharp tools, including knives and needles. Always take care to keep your fingers safe while working.

FAQ

Q. What is the process of casing leather?
A.
Casing leather is when you add moisture to leather, typically vegetable-tanned leather, so it can be properly prepared for tooling. You need to be careful not to add too much water, because leather that is too wet won’t produce crisp designs.
 

Q. How do I add moisture to leather?
A.
The casing process is very simple. All you need is a small plastic or glass container of clean water and a clean sponge (no soap). Lay your leather out flat and lightly dampen the smooth side until it changes color. After you've finished, you must wait until the leather returns to its natural color before tooling.
 

Q. What is tooling?
A.
Tooling simply means working on the leather with the tools in your leatherworking kit.
 

Q. What is burnishing?
A.
Burnishing is a process that takes your project to the next level. It’s when you smooth the edges of the leather down flat and shine them with a compound to give your project a professional look.
 

Q. Do I need to rewet the leather?
A.
Possibly. It depends on your environment. If your leather gets too dry, it won't respond well to the tools. If you notice this happening, stop working and case the leather again so it becomes suitable for tooling.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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