Leather Embossing Tools: A Leather Crafter Starter Guide In 2023
Table of Contents
- Hammers & Mallets
- Pressing & Cutting Platforms
- Leather Stamping Tools
- Measuring Tools
Leather embossing tools are not as simple to find or use, so we've put together a list of the must-have items out there. These leather crafting supplies will help you make your work easier and more professional-looking in no time!
Leather is an essential material for crafters, but it can be challenging to know where to go if you need specific types of tools like punches with pointed tips for fine detail. In this article, we're going over some great options based on what kind of tool they offer.
Hammers / Mallets
1. Dead Blow Hammer
Dead blow hammers are a special type of hammer with a polymer outer covering and a cylinder inside the head, usually filled with sand, steel shot or lead shot, or any combination of the metal shot and sand.
The polymer covering protects the metal punch or wooden handle of the chisel from damage, while the weight inside the hammer delivers enough pressure on the leather stamps. To augment your leather embossing tools, use a 1-pound dead blow hammer for better control.
The mallet is a staple in a leather crafter’s workshop for several reasons. It is easy to handle, does not cause fatigue on the hands, and does not damage the stamps when manual stamping. There are several types of non-marring mallets you can choose from, but most crafters favor the nylon head mallet. Other options are wood, rubber, and leather.
When choosing a mallet for leather embossing, look for one with an ergonomic, non-slip handle that’s not too long to give it space for rebounding. Rubber and leather mallets are most notorious for rebounding, which may hurt the leather crafter if you’re not careful. You can also try a double-face hammer for more convenience and flexibility.
The I-Mallett does the same job as any mallet, except that instead of a T, the hammering part lies straight with the wooden handle. Some crafters prefer it because they can see the punch better than when using a T-mallet.
Pressing / Cutting Platforms
Pressing and cutting platforms are essential for successful stamping and leather crafting. Having the best quality pressing and cutting platforms also keeps your leather embossing tools in top condition.
4. Flat Anvil
A flat anvil is specially designed hardened steel for all types of manual stamping on leather or metal. The surfaces are devoid of sharp edges and are resistant to dents and scratches.
The flat anvil is useful for leather stamping since it doesn’t give as much height to your work table, so you can work on your leathercraft projects while sitting. If you work with an arbor press for leather embossing, the flat anvil also fits into the arbor press.
This 2-pound mini anvil has a small work surface that works for small leather crafts such as key chains, leather bracelets, and leather jewelry.
At less than 2 inches in height, it does not make a massive difference to your workspace height. The good thing about the regular anvil is that you can mount it on your workbench or work table. You can do almost all your leathercraft projects on this anvil.
However, cast iron leaves dark spots if your leather is too damp. While the best use of the anvil is setting rivets and snaps to your finished leather, it also works for leather stamping.
6. Stone Slabs
Leather crafters use stone slabs, usually marble or granite, to make precise hits to the punch or stamp by absorbing the force from the blow.
When buying granite slabs, look for the darker ones as they are denser and stronger to handle your work that’s no less than 1 inch thick but not more than 6 inches. You can also use a stone slab to protect your work table.
If you don’t want to buy expensive stone slabs, you can get them at a lower cost from reclamation yards and development or renovation sites. Investing in a good quality stone slab, though, ensures that your leather embossing tools remain in good condition.
7. Poundo Board
The Poundo board is one of the essential surfaces you’ll need in your leather crafter’s shop. Aside from absorbing the pressure from your punching and stamping work, you can also use it to cut your patterns and leather sheets.
7. Press Plates
Press plates are good to use in an arbor press when using a longer stamp than the anvil on the press.
8. Ramming Rod
If you’re trying to transfer a stamped image on a thin piece of leather, using a nylon ramming rod softens the blow to prevent tearing through the leather. Use one that’s about 6 inches or shorter. However, the ramming rod is only best for smaller stamps if you don’t have a press.
Leather Stamping Tools
What is a leather project without designs? Here are a few leather stamping tools you need for transferring your patterns on your wallets, purses, knife sheaths, and other small leather projects you want to make.
9. Swivel Knife
Swivel knives are good for adding freehand designs to your piece of leather. While it necessarily cuts through leather, it also makes a good base for your embossing and stamping.
To use it, put your forefinger on the curved part of the swivel knife while holding the knife with your middle finger and thumb. You can draw your design on the leather piece before tracing it with swivel knives, then define it later with other leather tools.
10. Veiner Stamps
Veiners are leather tools that add dimension and structure to your leaves and flowers while helpful in making lovely borders on their own. You can also use them in combination with other stamps for some gorgeous frames. These particular veiners measure ⅝ inch and carry the codes V407 and V708.
11. Background Stamps
Background stamps are great in adding patterns behind the images you made on your leather projects. Aside from beautifying the blank spaces in your leather project, background stamps leave deep impressions to highlight the embossed image.
Companies like Barry King and Craft Japan offer leather tools and figure carving stamps. You can select from its large selection of leather tools, each created for handmade crafting to give you the best experience.
Shop for at least three or more of these leather stamps to provide variety to your work, so repeat clients see that you don’t do your work haphazardly. You can choose from a large selection of leather tools for backgrounds.
Checkered background (A118, A888 & A888-2) is suitable for almost any pattern, and the different sizes allow you to fit in your designs even in tight places.
For finer patterns on larger areas, try the checkered matting background stamps (F898, F899 & F900). These leather stamps lend a new look by giving details to all your leathercraft projects.
Aside from checkered patterns, pebbles also make lovely backgrounds. This pebble background stamp set (M886 & M887) comes with two tools - one circular and one teardrop-shaped stamp. You can also use the pebble background stamps on this 6-piece stamping toolset.
This tiny stamp (E386) measuring ⅜ of an inch is another example of excellent background leather tools by Craft Japan.
You can shop from different online shops that offer leather tools. Compared with Barry King, Craft Japan sells more affordable leather stamping tools and other leather tools such as swivel knives for every hide crafter.
Try also the seed bar grounder stamp (A101-3) for small spaces between your designs. They go well with almost any design on the main pattern and the outer background.
Typically, we’d recommend a longer seed bar (A106), but you have more control over your background with the shorter seed bar, plus it makes lovely flower centers. To cover some very small backgrounds, fan your seed bar grounder carefully to fill out the small spaces.
12. Stippler Stamps
The stippler stamp (A100) is a good tool for making close and deep rounded patterns on your embossed leather image. You can use this stamp to make the flower centers or a more profound impression on the background.
13. Pear Shader / Bruiser Stamps
Pear shaders, sometimes called bruiser stamps, are leather stamps that you can use to soften the lines on the patterns on your leather project, define the design, and contour to give it a better dimension. It also darkens the color of your leather, making it look richer, giving it a burnished look, even before you finish your leather with dyes and waxes.
When using it, hold it at a slight angle so you can control it better as you go. Also, be sure to maintain the moisture in your leather as it determines the effect of your shading. Wet a portion you’ll be working in, then when it becomes too dry, add another dab of water to it.
You can choose from checkered pear shaders (P213, P217, P975), lined (6368-00), or smooth (6367-00). These leather stamps also come in different sizes, as you can see in the above image.
14. Seeder Stamps
Seeder stamps are necessary for making the flower centers on your leather projects look more natural instead of leaving them a large blank. This particular set has three seeder stamps (S705, S706 & S722) of different sizes that you can use to complement each other. You can also use these stamps as part of the background of your projects.
15. Border Stamps
As the name implies, border stamps make the border for your embossed leather before assembling your project. Each one is very versatile to use on almost any design. It is best to have three or more border stamps among your leather tools if you are a serious hide crafter.
The leaves, circles, and stripes stamp (#327) make classy borders. You can even use them as a leather stamp other than just a border. This 10 x 10mm stamp works best for basket weaves and different repetitive patterns.
Another border stamp to try is a sunburst stamp with dots (#3) by Barry King. The semicircle is less than ½ inch wide and almost ¼ inch high. Any hide crafter will love the large selection of high-quality Barry King leather stamping tools created to achieve perfection in all your leathercraft projects.
This pair of scroll stamps (K153L/R) by Craft Japan makes classic borders. If used as a pair, make sure that the length you’re working can accommodate them from start to end.
Otherwise, you can place the scrolls closer or farther to fit them into your project. These leather stamping tools are longer at almost ¾ of an inch in length and more than ¼ inch in height.
The Celtic cross border (242BB) goes with almost anything, and you may use it as a background instead of a border. It measures 20mm in length and 10mm in height to cover a wide part in one stamping. This border is available on any online shop for leather crafters.
16. Basketweave Stamps
Basketweave is one of the most basic designs any leather crafter should have in his workshop. It is very versatile, and if appropriately stamped, it looks very professional and expensive.
It may take some time to place one stamped image next to another to get the whole basket pattern, but the result makes the time you put into practicing is worth it. Shop at reputable online stores to get the best of these basket weaves.
A basic basketweave pattern like this is an excellent addition to your leather stamps collection. The set comes in three designs (PX001, X500-2, and X513). You can use it in almost any leather project, and a little embellishment goes a long way for this pattern.
Basket weaves lend a professional yet classy look to your leather projects. This Y-shaped basketweave pattern (163B) is one of those elaborate patterns. The 18x10mm leather stamp needs careful planning and positioning to get the best effect, though.
A mat weave pattern like this gives a 3-dimensional look to your vegetable-tanned leather projects. The stamps are small (6x11mm), each having two weaves per stamp.
Another basketweave pattern you’d love to have is this woven rope pattern that’s best for nautical-themed leather projects. This stamp measures 20x6mm and has stamp name #193.
17. Letter & Number Stamps
Aside from patterns, you also need alphabets, numbers, and symbols for your personalized leather projects.
This alphabet and punch set is best for personalizing journals, padfolios, tablet covers, etc. The ½-inch Western-style font stamps sit in a foam bed with a 10-mm punch for adding names to your projects.
You can use these alphabet and number punch set for small leather crafts like key fobs, bracelets, coin purses, or belts. These 5/16-inch stamps use a simple font for the letters and numbers, all encased in a wooden box with a clasp to keep the punches organized. Moreover, it also works on metal, wood, clay, and other surfaces.
18. Celtic Knot Stamps
Celtic knots are some of the elaborate designs you can add to almost any leather project. Although they have Christian and pagan meanings, leather crafters find these patterns suitable for leather bags, bangles, belts, and other leather jewelry and apparel.
19. Random Design Stamps
This 20-piece leather stamping tool has different patterns, including borders, veiners, basketweaves, pebbles, teardrop, and some nature-inspired stamps. The stamps range from 0.3mm - 15mm with a 4 ⅛-inch rod. The rod has a textured middle part for better grip during stamping.
This set of stamps include different nature-inspired symbols, sports-inspired, and geometrics. These stamps make fun patterns not only on leather but also on cardstocks.
20. Beveler Stamps
Beveler stamps come in different designs but aim to achieve one goal - deepen the impressions on your leather projects to achieve a 3D look.
Smooth beveler stamps deepen the cut made by the swivel knife until you get a 3-dimensional look. This set comes in three sizes (B200, B203, & B935), and each tool adds a different effect around the embossed image.
Checkered beveler stamps (B198, B701, B702, & B936) add dimension and patterns behind your embossed images. It comes in 4 sizes, so you can find the right size to add your designs, even in tight areas.
Also known as a petal lifter stamp, the undercut beveler stamp (B892) gives your flowers and leaves an illusion of being superimposed on the leather surface. You can also find a large undercut beveler stamp (B61) for ¼ inch impressions under your flower petals and leaves.
21. Figure Carving Stamps
Figure carving stamps are usually more specific in their designs. Hence, we recommend these kinds of stamps to serious leather crafters who do not have much time to work on intricate designs manually.
Though some figure carving stamps give dimensions, others make specific designs like those that mimic grass, pine trees, starfish, mushrooms, etc.
22. Leather Embossing Wheel Roller
The embossing wheel roller is a convenient tool to emboss long leather strips like belts, bag straps, bracelets, and other similar projects.
However, you have to buy the embossing wheel to use it. To use it, attach the embossing wheel, then press on the textured part of the tool using your thumb as you push the wheel forward.
23. Leather Embossing Wheel
The leather embossing wheel is the accessory you attach to the leather embossing wheel roller to emboss your projects. To use it, remove the screw on the roller, insert the wheel, then reassemble the roller. Be sure to case your leather before you roll your tool.
24. Leather Embossing Stylus
Leather embossing by hand is a very rewarding craft that everyone interested in leather should try at least once.
Shop for a sturdy set of leather embossing tools with different metalheads and engraving tools to define your design. However, embossing with styluses is more complicated than regular leather embossing stamps and requires a certain degree of expertise.
Hot Foil Embossing Tools
Hot foiling is an excellent way to personalize your leather products. If personalization is the scope of your business, hot foil embossing cuts your work in half, making professional-looking, high-quality prints in seconds.
A CNC machine is unnecessary when you’re into hot foiling, but you can outsource from a laser or CNC machine shop to create your custom stamps.
25. T-Slot Holder
For hot foil embossing, one of the tools you need is the T-slot holder for adding custom names and numbers to almost any finished leather product. Read through reviews and know your machine and T-slot’s specifications if you’re buying this holder separately from an online shop.
26. Alphabet & Numbers for Hot Foil Stamping
The alphabets and numbers are a must for hot foil stamping so that you can add names and numbers to your coin purses, wallets, padfolios, tablet jackets, and almost any leather product. The T-slot is where you arrange your names and numbers, set it with locking parts, then screw it in place.
To use it, insert the T-slot into the holder, then let the digital leather embossing machine do its magic with the hot foil. You can also do blind embossing with this machine by skipping the hot foil.
27. Positioning Fixture
Although hot foil stamping machines usually have a stamping base with grids, these are not always reliable. A positioning fixture solves the issue of skewed and misaligned prints in just a short time.
As in any crafting, measuring tools are essential for measuring, keeping lines straight, getting the right angles for your work, and getting the right thickness for your leather sheets. You can get these rulers from any art shop or online store.
A T-square helps get an accurate 90-degree angle in your leather projects, especially if you need perfect squares for the end product.
Another tool you’d want in your leather embossing tools is an L-square. Like the T-square, it helps you get good angles for the leather you want to work on, but it also gives you more length on both sides.
For less complicated measuring, a ruler is a must for obvious reasons. Get a few good stainless steel rulers (we suggest a 6-inch, a 12-inch, and an 18-inch ruler) s so that it doesn’t get damaged when a cutter accidentally nicks it.
29. Tape Measure
A tape measure is a good measuring tool to have when measuring rounded or uneven shapes. It is not necessarily one of the essential leather embossing tools but getting the accurate measurements for your materials and projects is one indicator of a successful leather project.
30. Digital Caliper
A caliper, especially a digital one, complements your leather embossing tools by measuring the actual thickness of your leather sheets for embossing.
Knowing the right thickness lets you choose the right images to emboss on your leather. The downside of this is the need for batteries. You can use it to measure in millimeters and inches as it has an accuracy of 0.02mm or 0.01 inch.
Aside from outside measurement, you can also measure the inner diameter of the bolts and nuts that you need for attaching your metal stamps on hot foiling machines.
31. Leather Thickness Gauge
Get the proper thickness of your leather sheets with a gauge like this. Every hide crafter suggests that you use at least 2mm leather for your embossing projects to create lovely designs. You can get this from online shops that offer leather tools such as swivel knives, etc.
Leather crafting can be a daunting task. Knowing the right leather embossing tools will help you maximize your resources and money instead of buying useless items that cost more than they are worth, like those plastic stamps or overpriced punching kits from craft stores.
Tony Laier has a lot of helpful information in his book about techniques for stamping, punching, or weaving with leather if that is what you are interested in doing.