Top 5 Leather Working Tools
I really love tools. Leather handtools specifically. And if the person or persons that make these handtools has an interesting history, all the better! I'm such a sucker for that. Below are my top five favorite tools that I use in my leather work and a brief history of each of the companies that manufacture the tools.
1. Vergez Blanchard Pricking Irons
Pricking irons, used to mark your stitches prior to saddle stitching, are a key element in creating the classic and beautiful slanted stitch which is one of the telltale signs of a luxury leather good. Vergez Blanchard has been manufacturing their signature hand tools since 1823 and are known for their high quality tools as a result of traditional hand forging methods that they use. They're at the top of their game when it comes to luxury leather tools, with Louis Vuitton and Hermès among their customer base.
I use the #12, #2 and #1 sizes.
2. Fil Au Chinois Lin Cable
Fil Au Chinois, a brand that has been in existence since 1847, is some of the best French linen thread that you can get. The brand has been revived and reproduced by J Toulemonde, a thread manufacturing company who has been manufacturing yarns and threads since 1903 in Northern France. Fil Au Chinois is known for it's unsurpassed strength and durability in comparison to any other natural or synthetic (duh, obviously) type of thread.
I like the Noir and Ecru colors in size 632.
3. John James Needles
Yet another European company with origins dating back to the 1840s that has a reputation for being one of the best in their field. John James Needles is the British manufacturer of the straightest and best round tipped needles for leather hand sewing. I've never bled from one of these needles. Another fun fact - the company is based in Redditch, Worcheshire, an area that is known as the Needle Capital of the World! What? I must visit.
4. Vergez Blanchard Diamond Point Awl
Another tool needed to achieve that beautiful classic slanted stitch recognizable on all luxury hand-stitched leather goods is the diamond point awl. The 4 sided diamond point easily penetrates the leather allowing your needles and thread to follow as they pass by each other and land on opposite sides of your work.
5. Vergez Blanchard Stitching Clam
The last tool, and the third from Vergez Blanchard, is the stitching clam. The stitching clam is a simple tool that holds your work in place, while you sew. Used by placing the leather piece that you're sewing between the jaws and with one leg swung over top of the clam, the pressure from your leg keeps the jaws tight on the work. How simple.
Made by hand by some very skilled woodworkers, it is a beautiful tool in it own right. Check out the video below that shows and tells of what goes into making this tool.