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Intro to Leather Working

Intro to Leather Working

Ethan Carter

Leather Working 101 Demo – All the tools, materials, and techniques needed to get started

Leather work can be a rewarding hobby in itself or it can provide a distinctive way to accent your current designs and builds. With the barrier to entry being low, both in terms of basic skills and financial commitment, leatherwork is a versatile medium to incorporate into your making arsenal. In this class, Ethan will be demonstrating how to make a simple leather card wallet, including all the tools, materials, and techniques needed to get started in leather work. 

If you have ever wanted to learn more about how to get started with leather work, this demonstration is the perfect jumping-off point to learn about this exciting medium that is adaptable to a robust range of designs and projects.

Tools and Materials 


  • There are many places to buy leather online such as Weaver & Tandy. However, if you have a brick & mortar store near you, I highly recommend you go pick out leather in person because it’s a lot easier to get exactly what you’re getting by seeing and feeling it in person.

  • Ethan purchases most of his leather from two online shops:

  • District Leather Supply – where he gets most of his veg tanned leather. In addition to full sides, they also sell a variety of different size panels which is a great way to make sure the leather is what you’re looking for before investing in a whole side - 

  • Acadia Leather – where he gets most of his more economical full sides of chrome tanned leather -


High End Tools (for when you become obsessed and want to upgrade):


Types and Weights of Leather 

One of the most frequent questions asked is about what type and what thickness of leather to use, and the short answer is:  it depends on the project. 

The first distinction is Veg tanned vs. Chrome tanned. While there are always exceptions, here are the common distinctions:

  • Veg Tanned Leather

  • Tends to be more expensive due to the longer tanning process

  • Due to the natural tanning process, it only utilizes natural ingredients, it’s biodegradable and environmentally friendly

  • Generally regarded as higher quality 

  • Tends to be stiffer than chrome tanned leather

  • Chrome Tanned Leather

  • Tends to be less expensive due to the faster tanning process

  • Because it’s tanned using chemicals it’s not biodegradable or as environmentally friendly

  • Tends to be available in more color options 

  • Tends to be softer than veg tanned leather

Another common question asked is what thickness of leather to use. Leather thickness is usually represented as a weight in ounces; this number should reflect the weight of one square foot of leather. Ethan finds 3.5-4oz leather the most versatile, but thinner and thicker leathers should be considered depending on what you’re making:

  • 1-3oz leather is typically used for things like upholstery, lining and garments

  • 3.5-7oz leather is typically used for bags, wallets, notebook cover, lightweight holsters/sheaths

  • 8-10oz leather is typically used for belts and heavy-duty holsters and sheaths

  • Sailrite has a helpful conversion chart here: 

That’s as far as this class will take us today but if you’d like to learn more, leave a comment or let TMCU know. Ethan is also always willing to be a resource and answer any questions you may have and can be found on Instagram @ethancarterdesigns. Additional resources to get you started, such as how-to videos, simple downloadable PDF templates, and inspiration, can be found on Ethan’s website .


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