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The Sheath/Holster Makers Forum This is the place to discuss all forms of sheath and holster making.

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  #1  
Old 01-03-2003, 05:30 PM
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BoyNhisDog BoyNhisDog is offline
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Question How do you cut leather?

Are shears the way to go with 8/9oz vegetable tanned leather? I have only used razor/utility knives and it is hard to get the exact shape while applying so much pressure to cut the leather. Sometimes it goes off track.

I see that The Leather Factory has three different shears that they report as being good for cutting all weights of leather.

What is the best way to cut out sheath parts with accuracy and ease? Thanks.


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  #2  
Old 01-03-2003, 05:55 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Shears will cut it but they really aren't the best tool. Using a knife is best even with the problem you are experiencing.

First off a lot of expert leather smiths use a head or round knife and some leather stores will try to convince you it is a necessity, but for the newbie/amateur I suggest not spending the money. The good ones are very expensive and the cheap ones aren't any good. They are an excellent tool but you have to know how to use one and how to keep them sharp.

For cutting straight lines and fairly open curves I suggest using a utility knife. Keep the blade sharp at all times. If it gets difficult to cut with then it ain't sharp. I use a utility knife in part to save time as I do this for a living. (yes I know this is CustomKnife Directory but...)For me it is just faster and more efficient to replace blades, although I do keep a rouge strop handy and touch up the utility blades as I work. Get one of the style utility knifes that holds the blade solid, not one of the safety type where the blade slides in and out.

For tight curves and intricate designs I use a leather workers clicker knife. Tandy amongst other sells them. I get the curved blades and keep them sharp with a buffing wheel and red rouge. The blades are replaceable also but cost a bit more so I extend their use as much as possible by stropping.

Now a couple of hints:
Dampen your leather. The knife will cut easier and will also burnish the edge a bit. Dampen don't soak and be aware that damp leather will mark much easier than dry so be careful ( I keep my fingernails cut down to a nub).

Second on heavier leather don't necessarily try to cut through the full thickness with one stroke. Some hides are harder than others so if it seems to not want to cut like butter use two or even three strokes of the knife.

Wandering off the line is something I'll bet most leather crafters do. I know I do. If you're using a straight edge for a cut put the knife to the outside of the item. This way if it goes cattawampus you can recut without ruining the project. After cutting I use a belt sander and/or a rotary sander on my Dremel to straighten and smooth up the edges. Mainly though it's lots and lots of practice.

Hope this helps-
Chuck


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  #3  
Old 01-03-2003, 06:20 PM
cactusforge cactusforge is offline
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Well I know I am going to upset the apple cart but I have been known to use a band saw. Gib


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  #4  
Old 01-03-2003, 06:27 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Gib -

You ain't upsetting my apple cart. Glad to hear from you. I've used one too, especially on 10oz or heavier. I just don't have one and didn't think about it.

It must be a band saw because it cuts only in one direction, a jigsaw or scroll, saw won't work as they reciprocate (I know I've tried). I used to get knife blade bandsaw blades (no teeth just a knife edge), but I'm not sure where or if they are still available. Anybody else know?

LF#1

OF #2 - Did you get my email?


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The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2003, 06:41 PM
cactusforge cactusforge is offline
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Chuck try MSC for all kinds of band saw blades.
Yes I got your email. Gib


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  #6  
Old 01-03-2003, 06:48 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Thanks Gib.


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Wild Rose Trading Co - Handcrafted Knife Sheaths



The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2003, 07:35 PM
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BoyNhisDog BoyNhisDog is offline
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Thank you so much Chuck. That will save me $30 and some time. I also appreciate the other tips as well. I'll just keep those blades stropped and press on.


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Old 01-03-2003, 07:53 PM
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try a pair of tin snips on dry leather, cuts like scissors through paper...


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  #9  
Old 01-03-2003, 11:38 PM
Sandy Morrissey Sandy Morrissey is offline
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For years I used either the round or the head knife with great success. The draw back is the sharpening which is difficult, time consuming and frequent. A pain in the derriere! I strongly recommend the heavy duty utility knife that has the bent handle and a screw cap on the end to anchor (tighten) the scissor type handle. Use the heavy duty blade as they do not flex like the standard blade. As the blades are double ended and easily sharpened, they last a long time. You can virtually eliminate blade wander by using a cutting board made of plastic, polycarbonate or some type of poly some thing or other. The ones I am referring to are the kitchen counter cutting boards you can find in the stores specalizing in kitchen utensils. They are not cheap, but get the biggest one you can. Go with the white, not the clear. I have one that is approximately 20X30 inches and have been cutting on it for 15 years and it has not steered my knife a half inch yet! The amazing thing is that it does not dull your knife nearly as quickly as the leather itself! Sandy


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  #10  
Old 01-04-2003, 10:55 AM
PrattBard PrattBard is offline
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They aren't kidding about sharpening

Currently I'm using a heavy duty utility knife. I recently bought a "Superknife.com" blade. basicially a utility knife that folds like a pocket knife. Well the blades in this thing are thicker than the utilitiy blades I have seen around. Heavy Duty thickness. Which seems to work for me. The knife has a flaw that you have to take the blade out with a hex nut. So I have the blade in a standard utility knife. I'm sure you can find heavy duty blades. I forget who makes the pack I got. if you interested I'll get the name off the box of blades.
I think the thicker blade just seems sturdier to me, and seems to really sharpen easier, more like sharping a knife than a razor. I seem to get a better edge. anyway that works for me

As a rule I don't really notice the blade is getting dull, since I GRADUALLY have to put more weight behind it. Eventually I feel like I benched pressed a volkwagon after cutting a foot or so. and my edges start to look ratty, and frayed. Then I realize it's time to sharpen. Then I slice though with ease and cuss myself out for not thinking to sharpen sooner!

Another thing I do it make a slice down my mark with a stencil or smaller blade and bend the leather open. Just to set the groove, for the blade to follow. Seems to HELP (not a complete fix) to keep my cutting on the straight and narrow.
I'm liking this band saw idea alot!

Now anyone have some tips on cutting circles, or unstraightlines? my circles always look.....bumpy.

Lara
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  #11  
Old 07-06-2014, 10:33 PM
Cytoc Cytoc is offline
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to resurrect a old thread

For odd shapes and thick, tough leather, I really quite like a dremel with a spiral saw bit. it works really well, just be careful to be used to using it first, otherwise its easy for it to pull the material in and take a bite where you don't want it. And it makes quite a mess.
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  #12  
Old 07-21-2014, 07:41 AM
SYLeatherClean SYLeatherClean is offline
 
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Thanks for the tips again guys... Can save on a lot of time and can get accurate results

For More Information about Leather Cleaning visit us at www.sydneyleathercleaners.com.au
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