As a modern day leather artisan, everyone always asks me, “It’s done by hand… What do you mean?” Well, what I mean is, using nothing but my own two hands and a few classic leather tools, I can create a beautiful item.
“Tools” are what the cavemen used to crack nuts or start a fire. They are the foundation of any craft, dating back to the beginning of time. Without them, we are helpless, lost, and our opposable thumbs separating us from animals seem useless.
The leather making tools available to our disposition in the studio are the essentials to the trade. We build and create item with hides of leather, a few basic tools such as knives, punches and irons, and finally our able moving bodies. Each maneuver requires different tools; each leather tool has a different use; and each tool has and individual techniques to master its practice.
Every corner you turn in a leather shop, there’s a sharp object, a fragile point, or a hot surface making you vulnerable if not careful. X-acto blades, metal hammers, round or oval leather punches, hot irons, bolted snap setters, moon knives, and the list goes on. It’s an adventure just walking around.
My personal favorite is what we call the “moon knife”, which in reality is a 150mm rounded knife with a short wooden handle. I don’t use it everyday but… I wish I could. Its sole purpose is to cut through thick layers of leather that our usual blade would never withstand, AND scare the bejesus out of you. Just the sound it makes when it’s being sharpened is terrifying, straight out of a horror movie. That said, it represents tradition and true craftsmanship. If you’ve mastered the use of the “moon knife”, you’ve made it big.
My work would not be what it is today without the months, even years of trying to find the right leather tools, new or old, and fully grasping their purpose. As I said, without tools, what separates us from the wild?
These leather tools are available for purchase on the Amblard Leather Atelier website (CLICK HERE) But if I may suggest, take a class or two before you use them. Register for an evening class, or even the year-long program. Learn the craft, master the tools.