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What is tooled leather, tooling leather tools and using them

What is tooled leather and using tooling leather tools

A nice tooled leather belt made by tooling leather tools

What is tooled leather? What about tooling leather? How about tooling leather tools? I get those questions from time to time, so I’ll talk about them here. I’ll answer the first question first.

Tooled Leather

What is tooled leather? It’s actually very simple, it’s any piece of leather that has been worked on in any way to have a design, initials, pattern or other decorative look applied to it.

You use leather tools to make any decorative designs or patterns in leather. So tooled leather, means a piece of leather that has been tooled, or worked on, to make a design on it.

Tooled leather can be any type of item also. A leather belt, leather purse, leather saddle, anything made of leather that has been worked on is tooled leather.

It also can be any kind of design or pattern. Elaborate stars, flowers, curves, wildlife, initials and so on are all designs you can make on tooling leather. But even if you just make a line all the way down a leather belt, that is still a tooled leather belt.

However it has to be leather that has been cut, pressed or altered in some way of the leather itself. An airbrushed leather jacket is not a tooled leather item as the leather has not been worked, just painted over. Same as putting on a patch, it’s not considered tooled leather now.

What is tooled leather and using tooling leather tools

A nice tooled leather purse using leathercraft tools

Tooling Leather

So what about tooling leather, what does that mean? It refers to a type of leather. Leather hides can be processed and tanned in different ways. Tooling leather is often vegetable tanned leather, as this process makes the leather a bit soft and easy to work with.

Tooling leather is often also cut thick to use as leather items like leather collars, leather saddles and leather saddlebags. The color is often white or pale brown so you can use leather dye on it to make it whatever color you want.

Often tooling leather is glued together like plywood to make even thicker leather. Because you cut and dig into the leather when making designs and patterns you need a thick leather. Leather saddles can have many layers of tooling leather glued together.

What is tooled leather and using tooling leather tools

tooled leather tool bag using leathercraft tools

Tooling leather tools or Leathercraft tools

Finally what is tooling leather tools? I guess the more common name is leathercraft tools. It takes specially shaped and designed tools to cut and make nice designs in leather. Those tools are called leathercraft tools.

What is tooled leather and using tooling leather toolsWhat is tooled leather and using tooling leather toolsWhat is tooled leather and using tooling leather tools

Different leathercraft tools used on tooled leather

I made an article recently about embossing leather using embossing tools. Embossed leather is a type of tooled leather using tooling leather. However embossed leather is normally stamped leather.

Normally when you talk about leathercraft tools they mean tools that cut or scrape leather, taking little pieces of it out to form beautiful designs. There are dozens of specially shaped leathercraft tools you can buy that all do different functions.

So to recap; tooled leather is any piece of leather that has been cut or in some way worked on to make a design or pattern in it. Tooling leather is a type of leather, usually vegetable tanned leather, that has been processed to make it easy to work on. Leathercraft tools are the tools specially made to cut and work on leather.

Well that was fun! Now you know a little more about how all those fancy designs and patterns were put into those nice leather saddles, belts and other leather items. 🙂

4 thoughts on “What is tooled leather, tooling leather tools and using them

  1. Hi, I am looking to hire somebody to tool the name “Gutz Kleever” into a guitar strap, do you do this kind of thing or can you recommend somebody?
    Thanks and regards, Randall

  2. Hi there. I’m afraid I don’t do that kind of work, sorry. I can’t think of anyone off hand right now around here that does it. If I think of any I’ll let you know. Thanks,


  3. Hi there im able to do that 🙂 i carving names on belts guitar belts (straps) and i got leather to make the strap as you wish 🙂

  4. […] This Trail Saddle is beautifully intricate, but the effect of photo-realism is only apparent when viewed from a distance.  When the viewer steps back, this beautifully rendered prisma-color piece is transformed into a dusty trail saddle of tooled leather. […]

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