Protect Your Tools - Punch Pads!

All About Punch Pads

You spend a lot of money on your tools, and you want to protect them.  But what's the right punch pad? Are they all the same? Should I have more than one?  We're here to answer your questions with some quick tips for success!

Sharp Punches (round punches, strap end punches, oblong punches, etc.)

  • You want to do all of this punching onto a rubber pad or a piece of UHMW (ultra high molecular weight) polyethylene.  These pads will absorb the punch without doing any damage to the blade.  You also want to make sure that your pad is on something sturdy, e.g. a piece of marble, or a really solid table
  • Never do any punching on metal, glass, or marble.  They're not designed to absorb the punch, and will ruin the edge, even if you can't see it right away

Chisels (the type meant to strike all the way through your piece of leather)

  • We've found recently that the UHMW polyethylene pads sometimes do damage to lower quality chisels, and if you don't have tons of money to spend on chisels, you still want to make them last as long as you can! For these, we use either a piece of rubber or a piece of (MDF) Medium Density Fibreboard/Hardboard
  • One of the sweet benefits of rubber or MDF over the UHMW is that they won't mark your work.  Once you've punched many times into the UHMW, you'll feel that the plastic becomes rough and has a tendency to scratch your work, especially those beautiful oil pull-ups/waxy finishes.  The rubber/MDF will work really well, but also keep your work looking amazing.
  • One benefit of the MDF over the rubber is that the MDF will help regulate your chisel depth when punching.  The chisels will only go so far into the MDF and all of your holes will be the same size.  Whereas with rubber, the harder you hit your chisel, the more your tool will go into the rubber, creating some small chisel holes and then some HUGE chisel holes

General Cutting (head knife, rotary knife, utility knife, etc.)

  • For all of our general purpose cutting, our work table is covered in a large piece of UHMW, which works well (for years) for all types of cutting.  A lot of people use Olfa Self-Healing mats as well, which are good, just not quite as long lasting.

Conclusions

We find it beneficial to have pieces of UHMW, rubber, and MDF punch pads around, for different jobs (different tools, different leather, etc.).  We have small pieces of MDF available for sale in our shop.  Contact us for details!

As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop us a line!

Thanks!
Kristi

Tundra Leather

 


Protect Your Tools From Rust!

All About Renaissance Wax

It’s a type of microcrystalline wax that we use to protect our metal tools.  Waxes tend to last longer and protect better than other materials, such as oil.  The wax will create a protective barrier between your tools and moisture/oxygen, which can do them damage (e.g. rust or oxidize).  You’ll want to use this product on the metal tools (steel or brass) that you touch most with your hands.  We use it often on head knives, pricking irons, creases, punches, bevelers, etc.  To use, apply a thin coat of wax evenly over your tools, and then buff lightly with a soft clean cloth or a piece of sheepskin.  You’ll need to re-apply every so often.  If you've got a damp shop, you might consider applying every 2 months.  If you're in a more dry location, you could consider re-applying every 6-8 months.  The small tin should last you a good long time.

We sell the 65 ml tins in our shop! Contact for details!


How to UP your Stamping and Tooling GAME!

Stamping and Tool - Here's a Time-Saving Tip!

Do you ever get so frustrated sitting at your work station tap..tap...tapppping away at your project? Did you know you can save SO much time by using a plastic swivel knife beveler, as opposed to a craftool beveling tool?

Above is a picture of a swivel knife with a blade (left) and a plastic swivel knife beveler (right).  It's got a straight edge, which you put into your swivel knife cuts (similar to a beveler tool), but instead of tapping away, you drag it along, as if you were cutting.  It takes a decent amount of hand pressure, but the results are amazing!

Check out the smooth appearance of the two bottom bevels (using the plastic swivel knife beveler), as opposed to the top bevel (using a regular craftool beveler).  It really gets into the cut to burnish the leather.

Here's a video showing the time savings!

Thanks for reading! Let us know if you have any questions!

Kristi
Tundra Leather
Written October 26, 2017


All the leatherworking knowledge you didn't know you needed!

Have you got questions about leatherworking terms, measurements, and definitions?

Well...we finally got a new website! It was time to take our website into the 21st century with better pictures, better links, and better information.  Because of this, we now have the ability to share more information with you!

If you check out the "Leather" section on our homepage (see image below), you can see plenty of helpful information to get you started or keep you going in your leatherworking journey.  We often have questions about what different parts of leather are called, or what thicknesses are in ounces, millimeters, or irons.  All of this information is now up and we're happy to share!

If you think something is missing, or you'd like more information listed there, please comment below and we'll do out best to help you access the knowledge you need!

Thanks for reading!

Kristi
Tundra Leather
Written October 13, 2017


Topical Leather Finishes

Which product is right for which project? A question we're often asked when it comes to sealing up your beautiful work!

Fiebing’s Neutral Acrylic Resolene

This is a very popular clear top finish, mostly used over dyed or antiqued leather. Fiebing’s says it’s “flexible, durable, and water resistant.” If you’re looking for something to avoid stains or spots, this one would work. Best applied with a piece of sheepskin or a damp sponge. It will go on slightly blue-ish, but dry to a glossy finish.

Fiebing’s Neutral Leather Balm with Atom Wax

This is also a clear top finish, which I really like. It’s a liquid wax formula, which allows for a beautiful polished luster effect. Goes on well over a dyed or natural piece of vegetable tanned cowhide. Unlike the Acrylic Resolene, this is not a water resistant top coat, and because of this, it's more susceptible to staining.  This is wonderful if you're going to need to re-condition the piece down the road, as the condition will absorb through the atom wax finish.  Best applied with a piece of sheepskin or a damp sponge. Once dry, buff well with another clean piece of sheepskin or soft cloth. This will really make it glow.

Fiebing’s Bag Kote

Fiebing’s says, “preferred by saddle makers, Bag Kote will give a soft, satin finish no other product can achieve.” It’s the original formula developed by John Fiebing, in the beginning. What we like about it is that it provides depth of colour to a project, while providing a nice satin top coat. If you’ve got something that just doesn’t look dark enough black (perhaps something you’ve just dyed that’s not finished yet), Black Bag Kote will provide that solid black look. We also apply it to finished bags and purses that need an extra black touch up. Not water resistant, but wonderful for depth. Best applied with a piece of sheepskin or a sponge. Available in black, brown, and neutral!

 Fiebing’s Leather Sheen Spray

This is a flexible wax finish spray. It’s great for projects that you don’t want to rub another finish onto. When we’re using Hi-Liter to sharpen and define our swivel knife cuts, we don’t want to be rubbing something on top and risk moving the hi-liter around. A couple quick coats of spray Leather Sheen and you’re good to go. Also good for use on saddles, tack, shoes, and smooth leather bags!
Krylon UV Resistant Gloss Spray This is a tough protective coating that does not yellow with age. It also keeps the colours more true to their original state. We use this top coat when we’re working with coloured dyes that have a tendency to augment when subjected to sunlight (blue, purple, green, red, etc.). This top coat is smudge resistant and moisture resistant.

Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Super Shene

We like this product because it’s a water-based low VOC (volatile organic compounds) version or other similar top finishes. It’s durable, shiny, and water-repellent. Works well on top of a dyed piece of vegetable tanned cowhide. Seals in colour. We use this when we want to then apply Hi-Liter to stamping and tooling. - Apply with a wet sponge - Two solid coats of super shene - Allow to dry completely - Apply Hi-Liter with a brush into your cuts - Allow to dry - Lightly buff off excess Hi-Liter with a damp sponge - Spray with 1-2 coats of Leather Sheen Spray or Krylon UV Resistant Gloss (allowing to dry between each coat)
Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Satin Shene Satin Shene is the same as above, but with a non-glossy satin coat.

If you have any questions about any of these products, feel free to call, email, or pop in and we can show you what we mean with a quick demo!

Thanks very much for your interest!
Kristi Grove,
Tundra Leather
Written July 11, 2016


Looking to weather proof your leather boots before winter?

Did you know that a typical leather boot can soak up to a pound of water? That's not good during our harsh Canadian winters.

Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing protects leather from rain, sun, snow, and salt! The beeswax formula dries to a solid wax that stays put in the surface of the leather so it lasts longer.

Part of the importance of leather tanning is to obtain the right amount of oils in the leather. Unlike other products, Sno-Seal acts as a barrier, but does not clog the natural pores of your leather.

Drop in and we'll explain how to go about using Sno-Seal to keep your feet dry and warm this winter!

Much of the above information was taken from the Sno-Seal website, but we thought it would be very helpful in explaining why we really do like this awesome product.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Kristi, Tundra Leather

 

Note: The opinions expressed above are just that - opinions. They are based on our years of working with leather and specifically the experiences of Peter and Sean. Tundra Leather is not responsible for the use of this product, or the damage it may cause if used incorrectly. Please read and follow all product labels. Always, always, always test products on a discreet spot prior to apply to the whole item; it's almost impossible to go back. Please contact us for more information at 905-527-7745.


Some Information About Leather Conditioners

There are so many leather care products out there....how do you know which one is right for your project??

I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on three of the more common leather conditioners on the market today. They are Dr. Jackson’s Hide Rejuvenator, neatsfoot oil, and mink oil.

Note: These products are to be used more on vegetable tanned leathers, as opposed to chrome tanned leather.  For example, leather conditioners will help with leather baseball gloves, saddlery, heavy outdoor leather gear, heavy vegetable tanned leather belts, heavy duty work boots.  These conditioners are not for use on your nice black leather coat, hand-bag, or any suede product.

Dr. Jackson's Hide Rejuvenator

This is a Tandy Leather Factory product, and I have no idea what's in this stuff but it works wonderfully.  This conditioner will bring back old and dried out leather better than any other product that I have personally tried.  Multiple light treatments seem to work best.  The leather will only take so much and then simply stop absorbing it.  Wipe off the excess and put it back in the tub for use next time.  I work Dr. Jackson's in with my bare hands, constantly flexing the leather as I work.  Allow a day between coats so the oils can penetrate.  As with all conditioners, too much is not a good thing (it’s just more difficult to put on too much Dr. J’s compared to other products).

Neatsfoot Oil

I regularly use neatsfoot oil on saddlery and harness leathers. I never use neatsfoot oil on chrome tanned leathers. I also commonly use a light coat of neatsfoot oil on natural vegetable tanned leather after I have done extensive carving and before I do any colouring or finishing.  The multiple wettings and drying of carving will leach out some of the natural oils and fat liquors added during the tanning process and I want to put them back to help keep the leather surface supple. This also promotes a more even dye colour.

I’ve been asked lately to explain what “neatsfoot oil” really is.  Traditionally neatsfoot oil is the oil rendered from the shinbones and feet, but not the hooves, of cattle.  The term “neat” comes from old English meaning cattle.  The bones and feet are rendered in water to separate the oils.  The oils are then skimmed off and filter pressed.  Traditionally two pressings were common.  The first press gave the lightest oil, used primarily as a fine machine oil.  The second pressing was used in the leather and textile industries.  Both pressings are 100% pure neatsfoot oil.  Products marked as “neatsfoot oil compounds” have other additives, usually petroleum based.

Neatsfoot oil does not easily evaporate or come out of the leather and is easily over-applied. My experience is too much oil will leave the leather slimy to the touch and can make the leather weak. Sewing on over oiled leather allows the stitching to pull in too tightly and can cut into the grain layer. Neatsfoot oil can also oxidize over time and actually promote the brittleness of the leather it was meant to protect.

Mink Oil

Mink oil’s reputation as a leather conditioner seem to be more in the footwear and sporting goods industry than in the saddlery trades.
Mink oil is a natural oil derived from the rendering of the insulating layer of fat from under the skin of mink.  Mink oil has a high content of palmitoleic acid, an essential fatty acid also produced in the human body. As a result, mink oil is a common component in cosmetic and leather care products.

Mink oil as a leather conditioner will usually have some additive. Primarily these will be beeswax, tallow and/or lanolin.  Some other products will have petroleum derivatives such as silicone.  My choice is to avoid the petroleums as a leather care item. Silicone has been said to cause harm to the threads used in production. Why take the chance of damaging the stitching while trying to care for the leather.  Mink oil also has a better resistance to turning rancid than other animal or vegetable oils. Mink oil can be more effective on chromium tanned leathers than neatsfoot oil, but still be careful. You can use too much and cause the leather to lose support.  Mink oil will almost always cause darkening of leather so read the instructions that come with whichever brand you choose. Mink oil seems to provide a level of water proofing as well as being a good general conditioner.

I read some of this information in the Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal (Sep-Oct '97 Edition), but I’m sure I’ve read other part of this information elsewhere, and to those other craftsmen, authors, and researchers I’d like to give credit where it’s due, if I only knew who you were.  Thank you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Peter Grove,
Tundra Leather
Written November 15th, 2012

Edit:

Aussie Leather Conditioner

My Dad sure knew his stuff, when it came to leatherwork.  He knew which conditioner to use in which situation, and talked about his favourite three (above).  However, we also now stock Fiebing's Aussie Leather Conditioner.  I've heard and read some wonderful things about this product.  It's mostly meant for those dry climates (both extremely hot and bitterly cold), where leather has a tendency to crack and split more easily.  Used as a preventative measure, you can apply Aussie Leather Conditioner before the climate has a chance to damage your leather goods.  It was designed by Australian horsemen and contained natural beeswax.

Thanks again!

Kristi Grove,
Tundra Leather
Edited August 3, 2017