Hand Work Hand Tool Blog

Hand Work Hand Tool Blog

Homemade Hand Tool Cuts Leather Clean and True

comments (3) June 1st, 2011 in blogs

Ed_Pirnik Ed Pirnik, Senior Web Producer
thumbs up 49 users recommend

To build this simple leather cutter, I used a piece of an old bandsaw blade and an oak scrap.
I made a shallow cut into the edge grain on the bandsaw to accept the old blade. Then I simply epoxied the blade into the saw kerf. Since I set the blade into the oak with the teeth headed into the wood, I actually gave the metal a few taps with a hammer, embedding the bandsaw blades teeth into my oak.
After the epoxy dried, I ground a 25-degree angle on one face of the blade blank on a wheel. Then I honed the edge much like I would any chisel. The result was razor sharp.
My first project using the leather chop was a success. This divider for the interior of a box is meant to have a friction fit. I needed to cut and glue leather pads onto the end grain of each side of the piece. As you can see, the cuts are clean and sharp.
To build this simple leather cutter, I used a piece of an old bandsaw blade and an oak scrap. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

To build this simple leather cutter, I used a piece of an old bandsaw blade and an oak scrap.

I've got a thing for humidors. Despite the fact that I don't smoke cigars, I love the challenge of building a high quality box for housing fine cigars. The humid environment inside a humidor poses some challenges if you wish to build a piece that lasts the test of time, and I've figured out a few tricks along the way to make my boxes go the extra mile in terms of handling moisture fluctuations without stressing my joinery.

Recently I began using leather for one of my components and realized I needed a simple way to cut leather cleanly and precisely. I tried using a straightedge and a sharp utility knife but I found that even the sharpest of blades had a tendency to tear - at least slightly - when making the cut. The dragging motion of a knife just didn't work. What I really needed was a nice chopping cut.

Using a piece from an old bandsaw blade and some quartersawn oak scraps I had laying around the shop, I came up with this simple "chopper." The blade is simply set atop the leather you wish to cut, then a couple of blows with a mallet and BAM - you've got a perfectly crisp cut in your leather. Works like a charm!

posted in: blogs, how to, leather, homemade tools, shopmade tools, leather cutter

Comments (3)

Bbatron Bbatron writes: Sorry I should have said the mezza luna if firmly and accurately rolled.............
Posted: 5:28 am on August 27th

Bbatron Bbatron writes: Cutting leather, I see a problem with this method of cutting leather - Positioning and then BAM. and if the positioning is not perfect, BAM goes a perfectly good piece of leather. Years ago I made a "mezza luna" to cut leather and have never regretted it. A mezza luna is a half moon shaped piece of steel, sharpened on the curved side with a handle on the straight side. The leather is firmly and accurately rolled along the line to be cut, and then moved forward to make a second cut. It cuts curves as well as straight cuts. It is the traditional tool of the leather worker. I made two from a scraper and gave one to a friend.
Posted: 5:25 am on August 27th

jyang949 jyang949 writes: How is leather used in a humidor?
Posted: 8:48 am on June 11th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

About This Blog

Get the latest from the hand tool world with tips, techniques, reviews and more.

Blog edited by Fine Woodworking associate editor Matt Kenney.