Perfecting Your Leatherworking Craft: Top 3 Edge Tools for Clean and Polished Edges
When it comes to leatherworking, there are always subcategories and niches within the craft. And if there's one niche that gets a lot of attention, it's edge finishing - even more than design, pattern-making, and stitching.
In this blog post, we're going to dive into two key edge finishing tools: creasers and bevelers. These tools can make a massive difference in your leatherworking projects, and I get asked about them all the time. So, let's answer some of those common questions!
Creasers and bevelers are both tools that are used to finish the edges of leather before the final touches like burnishing, edge painting, dyeing, and waxing. In this post, we're going to focus on these tools, because their use can make such a significant impact on the final product.
As with any craft, if you don't get the foundation right, everything else you do will be negatively affected. That's why it's essential to have the right tools and techniques for edge finishing in your leatherworking arsenal.
So, let's get started and talk about these crucial tools!
The Edge Beveler - What is it, and How Does it Work?
The edge beveler is a must-have tool in any leatherworker's kit. It's specifically designed to bevel, or round off, the edge of a cut piece of vegetable-tanned leather.
There are two main types of bevelers: the straight cut beveler and the round cut beveler. As you might expect, the straight cut beveler uses a flat blade to slice the corner off of your piece of leather. This results in a clean, angled edge that's perfect for finishing.
The round cut beveler, on the other hand, is designed to create a more rounded, curved edge. It uses a semi-circular blade to create a beveled edge that's perfect for decorative purposes.
Both types of bevelers are incredibly useful for leatherworking, and the one you choose will depend on your personal preference and the specific project you're working on. With a little practice and patience, you can achieve perfectly beveled edges on your leather pieces, making your work look more professional and polished.
The Pros and Cons of Using a Straight Cut Beveler
One of the great things about using a straight cut beveler is that it's an economical option that won't break the bank. These tools are relatively inexpensive to purchase, which is a bonus for anyone on a budget.
However, there is one drawback to using a straight cut beveler. By cutting off one corner with a flat blade, you're essentially creating two new corners in its place. This can be frustrating for some leatherworkers who want a perfectly smooth edge without any extra corners.
Thankfully, there are a couple of solutions to this issue. You could use a smaller straight cut beveler to take off the extra corners, or you can manually sand them off. This requires a bit of patience and finesse, but with a little practice, you can achieve a smooth, polished edge.
In the end, the choice of whether or not to use a straight cut beveler is up to you. While it may have its drawbacks, it's still a useful tool to have in your leatherworking kit, especially if you're just starting. With a bit of creativity and ingenuity, you can work around the extra corners and create beautiful, professional-looking edges on your leather pieces.
Round Cut Beveler - What You Need to Know
The round cut beveler is another popular type of beveler used in leatherworking. This tool has a semi-circular blade that's perfect for creating curved edges on your leather pieces.
One thing to keep in mind is that the round cut beveler is a bit trickier to manufacture than its straight cut counterpart. As a result, it typically costs a little more to purchase. However, the investment is well worth it if you're looking to create more decorative edges on your leatherwork.
With the round cut beveler, you can achieve a smooth, curved edge that's perfect for adding a bit of flair to your leather pieces. It takes a bit of practice to master, but with time and patience, you can create beautiful, professional-looking edges that really stand out.
So, if you're looking to take your leatherworking to the next level, consider adding a round cut beveler to your toolkit. While it may cost a little more upfront, the results are well worth it in the end.
Round Cut Beveler - Saving Time and Improving Quality
While the round cut beveler may cost a little extra compared to the straight cut beveler, it can actually save you time in the long run. With this tool, you won't have to spend extra time reworking your edges with another beveler or sandpaper. Instead, you can achieve a smooth, rounded edge in one swift motion.
By using a round cut beveler to cut the edges of your vegetable-tanned leather, you can create a much cleaner finish. This is especially helpful when it comes to burnishing, as you'll have a smoother surface to work with.
So, while the round cut beveler may be a bit more expensive, it can actually be a cost-effective option in terms of time saved and improved quality. Plus, it's always nice to have a range of tools in your kit to choose from, depending on the specific project you're working on.
With a little practice and patience, you can become a pro at using the round cut beveler and create beautiful, polished edges on all of your leather pieces.
The Difference Between Vegetable Tanned and Chrome Tanned Leather
You may have noticed that I keep talking about vegetable tanned leather when it comes to using bevelers. That's because this type of leather is firm and holds still while you use your beveler to cut the edge off. It's like the perfect student - obedient and always following the rules!
But there's another type of leather out there that's not quite as cooperative - chrome tanned leather. This softer, more flexible leather is tanned using a different process, which creates a much less dense product that's soft to the touch.
When you try to use a beveler on chrome tanned leather, you'll notice that the edge simply compresses out of the way of your blade. Even a sharp blade can't get a good grip on the soft corner, and you'll end up with an inconsistent cut that's less than ideal.
So, if you're working with chrome tanned leather, it's best to avoid using a beveler altogether. Instead, you can use sandpaper to manually smooth out the edges, or invest in a different type of tool that's better suited for this type of leather.
By understanding the differences between vegetable tanned and chrome tanned leather, you can make more informed choices about which tools and techniques to use in your leatherworking projects.
Understanding Edge Bevelers and Edge Creasers in Leatherworking
When it comes to using edge bevelers in leatherworking, it's important to remember that they're primarily used on firm, vegetable tanned leather, and not on soft, chrome tanned leather.
However, things can get a little confusing, as some chrome tanned leathers are compressed and finished in a way that makes them rigid and firm, similar to vegetable tanned leather. For example, 'Saffiano' calfskin can be finished with an edge beveler and even burnished if the right techniques are used.
On the flip side, there are even vegetable tanned leathers that have been processed to provide a softer feel, making them unlikely to bevel well. So how do you know which leather can be beveled and which can't? The answer is simple - feel the leather and see if it offers a firm hand. If you can dent the leather with your thumbnail, it's probably soft enough to not be suitable for beveling.
If you can't use an edge beveler, the solution is to turn to the edge creaser. This tool is primarily used to create a decorative line a fixed distance from the edge of the leather. It frames the product nicely, enhances visual interest, and gives a consistent appearance to the edge.
With a little practice, you can master the use of both edge bevelers and edge creasers in your leatherworking projects, and create beautiful, professional-looking edges that will take your work to the next level.
Different Types of Edge Creasers You Should Know About
Just like edge bevelers, there are different types of edge creasers as well. In fact, there are three main types of creasers that you should know about:
Fixed Curved Creaser - This tool has a curved shape that's fixed in place. It's perfect for creating a consistent, rounded groove along the edge of your leather.
Fixed Flat Creaser - As the name suggests, this creaser has a flat shape that's fixed in place. It's ideal for creating a straight groove along the edge of your leather, which is perfect for more minimalist designs.
Adjustable Creaser, aka 'Screw Crease' - This creaser has an adjustable screw that allows you to set the width of the groove to your desired measurement. This is perfect for creating more customized designs and patterns.
By having a variety of edge creasers in your toolkit, you can create a range of different looks and styles on your leatherwork. Whether you're going for a classic, minimalist look or a more intricate design, there's a creaser out there that can help you achieve it.
With a bit of practice and experimentation, you can become a pro at using edge creasers and create beautiful, polished edges on all of your leather pieces.
My Favorite: The Fixed Curved Creaser
Out of all the types of edge creasers, the fixed curved creaser is probably my favorite. This type of creaser is fixed in place, which means that the creasing part on the head is a set distance from the guide. You can commonly find creasers with measurements of 1mm, 1.5mm, 2mm, and 2.5mm.
What sets the fixed curved creaser apart is the concave dome between the creasing part and the guide. This unique shape allows you to create a curved groove along the edge of your leather, which is perfect for adding a bit of flair and style to your designs.
By using a fixed curved creaser, you can create beautiful, professional-looking edges that will really make your work stand out. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of using this tool, but with time and patience, you can become a pro at creating polished, rounded edges on your leather pieces.
A Decorative and Time-Saving Solution
Using a fixed curved creaser not only gives you a decorative crease line, but it can also round the edge on soft leathers with the help of heat. This means you can achieve a curved edge without having to remove any material with an edge beveler.
This technique is not only time-saving, but it also adds a unique touch to your leatherwork. By using heat to activate the curved shape of the crease line, you can create a smooth, polished edge that adds a bit of character to your design.
If you're working with softer leathers and don't want to risk ruining the material with an edge beveler, this is a great alternative to consider. With a bit of practice and experimentation, you can master the use of a fixed curved creaser and achieve beautiful, rounded edges on all of your leather pieces.
How the Fixed Curved Creaser Works
The concave dome on the fixed curved creaser compresses the edge of the leather into a rounded shape, but heat is needed to make this effect permanent. Without heat, you won't see any changes to the edge.
While soft leathers will conform to the rounded shape with ease, firm leathers will resist compression, even with heat. In these cases, a crease line is all that you'll get from using a fixed curved creaser. If you want a truly rounded edge, you'll likely need to use an actual edge beveler.
It's important to understand the characteristics of the leather you're working with to determine whether or not a fixed curved creaser is the right tool for the job. By experimenting with different techniques and tools, you can find the best approach for achieving the desired look and feel for your leatherwork.
Best Use of the Fixed Curved Creaser
While a fixed curved creaser is great for soft leathers and creating a decorative line, it's not the best tool to use on firm leathers if you're looking for a rounded edge. However, it's still usable for creating a decorative line on firm leathers, so it's not a complete waste.
The key is to understand the limitations and strengths of the tool you're using, and to adapt your techniques and approach accordingly. With a little bit of experimentation, you can find the right tools and techniques to achieve the look and feel that you want for your leatherwork, whether you're working with firm or soft leathers.
The Fixed Flat Creaser: A Decorative Tool for Straight Grooves
The fixed flat creaser is similar to the fixed curved creaser, but with a different shape. Instead of a curved concave shape, the inside of the fixed flat creaser is squared off. This shape imparts a decorative crease to the leather, but it doesn't round off the edge.
If you're looking to create straight grooves along the edge of your leather, the fixed flat creaser is a great tool to use. It allows you to add a decorative touch to your designs while keeping the edges straight and minimalist.
Just like with the fixed curved creaser, it's important to understand the characteristics of the leather you're working with to determine the best approach for achieving the desired look and feel. By using a combination of different tools and techniques, you can create beautiful, professional-looking edges on all of your leather pieces.
Best Use of the Fixed Flat Creaser
The fixed flat creaser is perfect for creating straight grooves along the edge of firm leather, particularly vegetable tanned leather. The flat side of the guide makes it less likely to slip onto the surface of the leather by accident, which is a common problem with the curved creaser.
By using the fixed flat creaser on firm leather, you can achieve a clean, minimalist look that's perfect for a variety of designs. Whether you're making wallets, belts, or other leather goods, the fixed flat creaser is a great tool to have in your toolkit.
With a bit of practice and experimentation, you can learn to use the fixed flat creaser with ease and create beautiful, professional-looking edges on all of your leather pieces.
Versatility and Flexibility with the Adjustable Creaser
The adjustable creaser is a great tool that offers similar benefits to the fixed flat creaser, with the added bonus of being able to vary the distance of your crease line from the edge. By simply screwing the adjustment knob in and out, you can set your crease line closer or further away from the edge, depending on the desired look.
Like the fixed flat creaser, the adjustable creaser doesn't offer a rounding effect on the edge, as there is a gap between the guide and the creasing head.
With the adjustable creaser, you can achieve a versatile and flexible approach to creating decorative lines on your leather pieces. By experimenting with different settings and distances, you can find the perfect balance for your design, creating a unique and personalized look that really stands out.
Whether you're working with firm or soft leathers, the adjustable creaser is a great tool to have in your toolkit, allowing you to add a touch of style and flair to your leatherwork.
Multiple Benefits of the Adjustable Creaser
The adjustable creaser offers more benefits than just the ability to vary the distance of your crease line. One such benefit is the ability to create a double crease effect by creasing a line on the opposite side of your stitching. This creates a unique and interesting look that really stands out.
Additionally, the adjustable creaser allows you to set your crease line at a distance of 5 or 6mm from the edge, which is not a common feature in fixed creasers on the market. This gives you greater flexibility and versatility in your designs, allowing you to create personalized and distinctive leather pieces that really make a statement.
With the adjustable creaser, you can take your leatherwork to the next level, creating professional-looking edges and decorative lines that really stand out. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced leatherworker, this tool is a must-have for anyone looking to add a touch of style and flair to their leather pieces.
Overcoming Heat-Related Challenges with the Adjustable Creaser
While a fixed crease can leave a nice dark line in vegetable tanned leather when heated, the guide can also get hot, leaving scorch marks on the edge. This is not ideal and can be frustrating for leatherworkers.
Fortunately, an adjustable creaser can help overcome this challenge. By heating up only the creasing head and not the guide, the adjustable creaser can leave a nice dark line without damaging the edge. This is a huge advantage over fixed creasers and can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Additionally, most adjustable creasers are ambidextrous, meaning the guide is the same height as the creasing head, and the creaser can be used upside down on its point. This is very handy around tight curves and makes it easy to achieve a consistent look on any part of your leather piece.
By using an adjustable creaser, you can overcome heat-related challenges and achieve professional-looking edges and decorative lines on your leather pieces. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced leatherworker, this tool is a great addition to your toolkit.
Choosing the Right Creaser for Your Leatherwork
When it comes to choosing a creaser for your leatherwork, there are a few things to keep in mind. While a fixed flat creaser offers no real advantage over an adjustable one, a combination of fixed curved creasers in various sizes can be nicely complemented by the versatility of an adjustable creaser.
By using the right creaser for your project, you can achieve a professional look and feel that really stands out. As discussed earlier, the round cut beveler, fixed curved creaser, and adjustable creaser are all great options that offer different benefits depending on the type of leather and the design you're working with.
So, if you're looking for a creaser that can round off the edge of your leather piece, the round cut beveler is a great choice. If you want to create a decorative line with a fixed distance from the edge, the fixed curved creaser is a great option. And if you're looking for versatility and flexibility in your designs, the adjustable creaser is the way to go.
In summary, understanding the benefits and limitations of each type of creaser is essential in choosing the right tool for your project. By considering the type of leather and the design you're working with, you can make an informed decision and achieve the best results possible.
So, what creasers do you recommend based on your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!