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 Post subject: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:41 am 
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Leather tooling is usually a tedious and complicated affair, but it adds a lot of flair to an otherwise plain piece of leather.

However, with a few tricks you can achieve very similar results in a fraction of the time and with no costly tools involved.


List of materials:

-Leather (12 oz was used for this tutorial but you can use up to 5-7 oz).
-Water bottle (try to get one with a spray head).
-Pencil (rounded tip, draw a few circles after sharpening to blunt the tip).
-Blunt tool (check embossing tools, width depends on the line thickness of your design. If you are unable to get a tool, use an old ink-less ballpoint pen or a small knitting needle).
-Heat gun (Hobby ones work best and are usually under $25. Hairdryers won't work).

First step is getting your design done. Once you are happy with a design, print it and fit it into the pre-cut piece of leather (always do the tooling after you have the pieces cut).
Make sure it would fit nicely on the piece.
If you are using a repeat pattern, make a few photocopies of your design so you have spares.

With design in hand, we proceed to prepare the leather for the tooling. This is called "camping".
Turn the leather so the rough side is facing up, start adding water slowly. You will notice that the leather will suck the water quite fast.
Image

Keep adding water until you see excess starting to form. Make sure to cover the entire surface as evenly as you can.
Image

Wipe the excess with a towel or rag, don't scrub hard simply tap until the excess is gone.
Turn the leather around and use the towel/rag you used to wipe the excess and rub the smooth side to damp it evenly. Don't add more water to the front. If the water soaked all the way through from the back, even it out with the towel/rag. Let the leather dry for about 10 minutes.

After that, start transferring (or drawing directly) your pattern on the leather using the pencil. Don't apply too much pressure, in case you need to make a correction.
Image

If your pattern has several sections (borders, designs, etc..) work one section at a time. You can always add more water if needed using your damp towel/rag.
Once your pattern is transferred, grab your blunt tool and with even pressure start following the lines.
Image

Image

If you see too much water coming out of the lines when you press with the blunt tool, you may need to let the leather dry a bit more before continuing.

To transfer a printed design, simply lay the paper on top of the camped leather and follow the lines with your pencil. Do remember, don't apply too much pressure.
Image

To make a continuous pattern, simply move your printed design and align it with the next. Start with the corners to make sure they match
Image

Finally, the most important step. If you were to let the leather dry as it is, your pattern would "pop out". You would still be able to see it, but it would be faint. To work around this, once you are done with ALL your design, grab your heat gun and dry the leather from behind (the rough side) completely.
Image

IMPORTANT: If you don't have a heat gun, you can use the oven in your kitchen. Pre-heat the oven before you start tooling. Once you are done, pop the piece inside the hot oven so it dries fast. KEEP AN EYE ON IT. Do not walk away from it, the difference between dry and burnt is but a few seconds. Check the piece often so you can pull it out immediately after dry.

As you get the leather nearly 100% dry, you will reach the point where you can shape it freely. Take advantage of this to shape your piece and let it stand for a few hours before applying the dye.
Image

If you have a piece of armor that has not been hardened, you can also tool it.
For example, I bought these bracers but the design on them was very faint. I went around and re-tooled them with this process.
Image

You can see the differences quite well here:
Image

If you have an already hardened piece of armor, this technique will most probably not work but there is another technique that may help you.

You will need a soldering tip tool (usually quite cheap) or a wood burning tool (the advantage being that you can buy different shape tips)
This is called branding.

Wet the leather as much as you can from both sides and wipe the excess off. Do not let it dry too much.
Transfer your design to the piece you want to use with the pencil. Make sure you have good illumination. Pencil lines are hard to spot on pre-dyed leather.
Image

Next step requires patience and a very steady hand. Try drawing a bit on a spare piece of wood before doing the leather so you get the feel of it.
Point the tip in a diagonal angle and burn the lines one by one. Try to make it in one single pass so you get clean lines.
Image

Finally, the complete branded design
Image

If you want deeper lines, go for a second pass.

You can even combine both techniques to get more complex results.
Remember that you can do any design, but for more complex images try using a thinner tip for the embossing.
Don't get discouraged if your first attempt is not 100%. If you are afraid of messing your armor, buy a few leather scraps to practice on, just make sure they are of similar thickness as the piece you want to tool.

If you have further questions, please feel free to ask.

Hope it helps!

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 11:30 am 
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Awesome.

Added to the tutorials sticky.

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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 12:03 am 
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For the record, I know the tobacco companies paid you off. It was way too obvious.

Also, it can be helpful to use wax paper when tracing your pattern onto the leather so you can see your progress!


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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 7:33 am 
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I wish they would give me a sponsorship! I have given them the best part of my lungs!

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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:27 am 
Hero
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I was gonna mention that you look life a fiend, but I'll skip.
Super * job on the tutorial. This is something I've really thought about lately and a little instruction is all I need to get started.
That and boredom.

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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 9:23 am 
Scout
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Well, actually the person in the tutorial is Captain Alunsun, not me.
I was the one taking the pictures.

Do post pictures of your tooled projects!

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These things are for lesser men.
Protect the weak against the evil strong.
And never allow thoughts of gain to lead you into the pursuit of evil."

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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:45 pm 
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Well done Old Horse...I complemented your gear at springwar...look forward to seeing you and your crew at octoberfest...

Arioch Hellhammer


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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:18 am 
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Thank you Arioch.
Your own armor and garb are fantastic. Did you made everything?

It's possible that for Octoberfest we'll drag a few more friends with us. See you there!

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These things are for lesser men.
Protect the weak against the evil strong.
And never allow thoughts of gain to lead you into the pursuit of evil."

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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:41 pm 
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Arioch, you need to post some pics of that wicked lamellar rig you had on at Beltaine and that ridiculous helmet, too.

Come on, you know you wanna...


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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 2:53 pm 
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Old Horse...yes I did make all my gear, thanks for the compliment
Arrakis, i'd be glad to, but i'm technologically retarded, and don't know how.

Arioch


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 7:24 am 
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This is the only full picture of Arioch I have from Spring Wars.
Image
I wish I had a close-up of the helm and mask, they look amazing.

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Protect the weak against the evil strong.
And never allow thoughts of gain to lead you into the pursuit of evil."

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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 10:05 am 
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Well done, laddie. Nice work with the knife and the design.
I just finished tooling the Beltaine Champion belt that was presented last week, but didn't get any photos of it. It turned out pretty nice, if anyone has a shot of that, I'd appreciate it.
Again, well done! And love the quote! I've read "Legend" 8 times, working on the 9th now. Deathwalker FTW, any day! Bane close second.


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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 2:09 am 
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Old Horse wrote:
Thank you Arioch.
Your own armor and garb are fantastic. Did you made everything?

It's possible that for Octoberfest we'll drag a few more friends with us. See you there!
OI! You dont need to drag me, I can walk just fine.

I would like to see pictures the leather work others have made and hear about how they made it

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 10:21 am 
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I made the leggings that Arioch is wearing.

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 4:14 pm 
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Favorite Fighting Styles: whatever peter the quick is doing just like everyone else
yep i was going to mention it but eh, those are some awesome scales ixous. you made them for dameon right?

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 4:53 pm 
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Photo belongs to troll.

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 8:55 pm 
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That's a nice rig. I wanna see the bracers too.

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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 4:05 pm 
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Yea, i made those leggings for his barrel. I also made some arms to go with it, but i dont think theres any pictures of them.

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:11 pm 
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I know this is an old post. But I don't wanna start a new thread about the same thing.

Does this technique cause any shrinkage of the piece?

I'm making torso armor and have a design I'd like to "tool" onto the front of it and possibly other accents. However, I'd rather not harden the leather. I feel it's hard enough as it is.

If there is shrinkage, is there another way to tool a design into the piece?

Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:02 pm 
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From what I've seen, the leather does have some shrinkage. And the ammount of shrinkage increases with the tempature of the water and the quality of the leather. The warmer the water, the harder the leather becomes and the more it shrinks in the process. Do not recommend starting with boiling water. While it creates a hard leather, the shrinkage is aweful.

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:25 am 
Scout
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Actually, with this technique you don't get any significant amount of shrinkage.
All of the pieces I tooled retained 99% of their original dimensions.

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:47 pm 
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this needs to be re-stickied.

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:49 pm 
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It's in the armoring tutorials stick at the top.

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 7:46 pm 
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none of those links work anymore. they all point to belegarth.com/board addresses, not the new board.belegarth.com

all i get when i click the link is "page not found"

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:52 pm 
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Do you have any advice on doing different colors on either side of the tool/burn? Ie- what tools/how, etc?

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 Post subject: Re: Tutorial- Leather tooling
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:52 am 
Scout
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For coloring the leather you could always use different leather dyes, applied with a painter's brush.

If the colors you want to use are not available on leather dye (or are not easily obtainable) one alternative is to use Aunt Martha's fabric paints.
Don't let the name fool you, they are oil-based and come in a tube with a ballpoint on it, so you can draw straight from the tube (or snip the tip off and use a brush).
It may work best for you to lightly sand the leather before applying the paint.

Here's a link to the product:
Ballpoint tube paint set

And in this picture you can see the branded leather armor after it was painted with those oil paints.
(photo property of Kracken)
Image

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These things are for lesser men.
Protect the weak against the evil strong.
And never allow thoughts of gain to lead you into the pursuit of evil."

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