How to Cut Leather
Knowing how to cut leather is an essential part of leatherworking. Cutting leather is super easy with the right tools. It can seem pretty daunting if you’re trying to go at it with a pair of scissors.
In this instructable I’ll show you how to cut both thick and thin leathers, and give some tips on how to get the best cut to cutting leather like a pro.
How to Cut Leather
Learning how to cut leather isn’t especially challenging, cuts should be perfect since they significantly affect of your leather. The most minor slip of ruler can mess with and make your stitching lines no longer as straight as they should be.
While learning how to cut leather correctly can be a challenge, with a little bit of patience, both experienced leather workers and amateurs alike can master the art of cutting leather.
See more: How To Emboss Leather
Leather Cutting Tools
Before you begin to cut leather, it’s important to make sure that you have all the tools that you will need handy. Tools for leather cutting play a major role in the process of leather crafting.
There are a few essential leather cutting tools: a utility knife, a rotary cutter, and a hobby or craft knife. And there are a few other common types of tools used for leather cutting as heavy-duty scissors, head knives, swivel knives, hole punches, skiving knives, and V-gouge knives.
- Self healing cutting mat
- Hobby knife with a sharp blade
- Rotary cutter
- Heavy ruler
- Leather for cutting
While you can use scissors to cut leather, it’s not ideal. On thin leather you might not get a nice straight cut because you cut line can move a little every time you move the scissors to take another snip. On thick leather, you might not be able to cut it at all. And even if you do, you’ll have to use more force than normal, which can cause jagged and squished edges.
Your leather cutting knife should be sharp and not dull avoid leaving unsightly and uneven jagged edges. If your leather cutting knife gets dull, it’s important to sharpen it as frequently as possible for the best possible cut.
Cutting Leather: Preparation
Regard of what you are crafting with your leather, you should layout and mark your leather before you begin to cut it.
For example, if you are creating a wallet with multiple pieces, you scope out the leather grain side to find a clean, smooth area without any significant imperfections. Once you’ve found this area, flip the leather over and copy the pattern on the flesh side with a pen. This will be the area that you will cut from.
If your pattern includes curves, planning out your cut is even more important.
That it’s easier to cut on the grain side, but you can absolutely cut from the flesh side – you just have to be patient and take it slow since it’s a rougher cutting area.
Best Way to Cut Thin Leather
It’s best to cut thin leather of a thickness of 1mm or less is best done using a rotary cutter. Using a hobby knife can pull and crease the leather and make it harder to get a straight line since it’s so fragile and more prone to moving so it’s harder to get a straight crisp line.
Using a rotary cutter allows for even pressure to be applied to a larger area. It’s vital to ensure that your blade is nice and sharp when learning how to cut leather. This will give you a crisp, smooth line so you don’t have to do a ton of passes.
To cut the leather, lay the leather down with the grain side facing up, then place your ruler on top. If you haven’t already planned your cut with a pen or a piece of material, you can use the edge of the ruler to guide your cut. For the best results, keep the rotary cutter as close to the edge of the ruler for best results.
How to Cut Thick Leather
Thick leather is much easier than thin leather ! All you really need is a nice ruler and a hobby knife to get a clean, straight cut, in addition to a sturdy ruler.
To cut thick leather straight, lay the leather down grain side up and place the ruler on top. Use the edge as a cutting line again – just drag the hobby knife along the cut line gently and slowly. It will all be worth it for a straight cut into your leather.
You’ll want to make lots of small passes if the leather is especially thick. Keep the ruler stationary at all times and make sure you’re keeping the knife’s edge up against the ruler. It normally takes between 2-4 passes to totally cut through complete.
Readmore: What Is Split Leather?
Leather Cut Tips
While leather cutting is generally straightforward once you follow the basic steps outlined above, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your leather cutting project runs smoothly.
Here are a few important tips for learning how to cut leather:
Keep your blade perpendicular to the leather. If you don’t do this, your cuts will appear to be straight but you will find out that they’re not completely straight once you get to the process of burnishing. To ensure that your edges line up perfectly and to limit the amount of sanding needed while burnishing, always keep your blade perpendicular. If you have trouble doing this, try not to overextend your arm while cutting because this will cause your hand to start rolling.
Keep your knives sharp. Sharp knives create clean, smooth cuts, causing much fewer mistakes. Before or after each time you work with leather, whether you’re just learning how to cut leather or are a seasoned leatherworker, make it a habit to sharpen your knives.
If you’d like to cut smooth curves in your leather, you can use a coin or washer as a guide. Line your coin up into the corner of your leather, following along the edge with your knife.
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