One of the most important tools that you should have when doing leatherworks, and that is the surface for you to work on. It can include tables, mats, stone slabs, and other various materials and surfaces. Now, leathercrafting doesn’t require too many surfaces, but there are a few helpful ones that can make things easier for you.
Having a smooth cutting surface is the key when it comes to leatherwork. A strong pounding surface is also helpful in absorbing shock and producing a clean cut. This article will talk about the best leatherworking surface that you can use for your leatherwork. I also provide some recommendations of leather surfaces that you can buy in the market.
The Perfect Workbench for Your Needs
The workbench is perfect for those who use a lot of tools in their leather projects. Workbenches are made out of wooden surfaces with metal stands. It serves as support while stretching, cutting, or setting up tools for your projects. If you choose this option as your working surface, you need to make sure that it is spacious.
A workbench that is about four feet by six to eight feet would be the perfect size for you to work freely. The height should be high enough so it will suit your sitting posture. You don’t want to get a working bench where you would need to slouch and hurt your back. Aside from that, it would be best if you also chose a workbench that has built-in storage for your tools.
When it comes to the workbench, you have different types of wood that you can choose from. Maple would be the best choice, but pine would be the best choice for you if you need a cheaper workbench.
Now, you have to make sure to get a working surface for beginners that will fit your space. If you are not able to buy a workbench just yet, it is best to work on a coffee table or other living room products instead. Working on these surfaces would be a great start, and once you do have space or a workshop, you can get the workbench that you will need for your leatherworking projects.
There are workbenches that are available in the market, but if you have the right tools and materials in your home, you can create your own workbench.
Best Leather Workbench
If you have the budget to buy a workbench, the Harbor Freight workbench is the best option. It has four felt-lined storage drawers and a convenient storage space where you can organize your tools when working. It also has a woodblock vise with adjustable machined guides that you can use.
The Harbor Freight workbench’s weight is 250 pounds and has a 60 by 20 inches surface that you can work on. The woodblock vise measures seven inches and has four anvil and wood pegs. With this workbench, you can get your leatherworking projects finished without a hitch.
The cost of the Harbor Freight is $149.99. It may be pricey, but it is a good investment for your leather projects.
Stone Slabs – Granite or Quartz
Stone slabs, also known as leather tooling slabs, are perfect for punching, stamping, and cutting tools. Granite slabs help absorb and distribute the hitting forces that you do during your leatherwork. It provides a solid surface so that you can perform your tasks. You can stamp a fair amount of downward force on stone slabs through tools via hammer, mallet, or maul.
The downside of using stone slabs is it tends to be shaky when you are using them. You would need a mat to keep the stone slabs stable. When it is unstable, it will cause you less desirable results, or it can even damage the surface. Stone is a very dense material but it also absorbs shock well.
When it comes to stone slabs, they come in different sizes and thicknesses. Quartz is also a popular surface to use for leather tooling. If you want a cheaper option and can’t afford granite, quartz is the best way to go. The performance of quartz slabs is the same as granite.
You can purchase slabs or get some in discarded stone samples for kitchen remodeling or any home improvement stores. Some online stores and leather working websites offer stone slabs that you can buy.
Best Granite Slabs
One of the best granite slabs that you can use is the Tandy Leather Deluxe Tooling Slab. Anyone can use these stone slabs, from beginners to professionals. It is best for tooling, stamping, and fixing of leather fitting and fasteners. The Tandy Leather Deluxe Tooling Slab measures 152 x 152 x 30 mm.
It is small enough to pack for a road trip. Suppose you are planning to do some of your leatherwork while away from home. This is the best leather surface to bring. The price of the Tandy Leather Deluxe Tooling Slab is $24.95.
Sturdy Marble Slabs
Marble slabs are nice and smooth, and leather doesn’t move as much, unlike the granite slabs. If you are tooling or stamping, this is the best leather surface to work with. Aside from tooling and stamping, it is also great for beveling edges or skiving. Often leather stamping tools do not press well on leather. Well, with the marble slab, you can stamp your leather to perfection.
It provides stability to enable all tools from being struck, pushed, or pressed. At most, there are two sizes available for marble slabs 12 x 16 inches and 16 x 20 inches. You would need a rubber mat under the slab to keep the marble stable.
Best Marble Slabs
The best marble slabs that you can buy is Weaver Marble Tooling Slab. It is available in two sizes, six by six inches and 12 by 12 inches. However, both have the same thickness, which is 1 ½ inch. You can use these marble slabs for years of dependable services. It is excellent when used under a Poundo board when you are doing leather punches.
With the Weaver Marble Tooling Slab, you can elevate your work with this leather surface. You only need the best surface to work on, so using the Weaver Marble Tooling Slab is the best way to get beautiful results.
Novolene Chopping Block
Novelene Chopping Blocks are made out of synthetic materials that are formed in a block shape. Just like the stone slabs, it is used under leather for punching and cutting tools. Aside from providing a great surface to work in, it also helps protect the blades of your knife.
Most of the novolene chopping blocks are rectangular in size and usually colored red. These types of leather surfaces provide shock absorption on blades for cutting, punching, and stamping.
Best Novolene Chopping Block
The best novolene chopping block is the Weaver Leathercraft Novlene Chopping Block. It is available in four sizes, which are 7″ x 11 ¾”, 11 ½” x 18″, 12″ x 24″, and 18″ x 36″. The material is soft enough, so it doesn’t chip when you are using it for tooling, stamping, or any other leatherwork that you might do on the surface.
Due to the fact that it is durable, it will provide you years of service. The price range for the Weaver Leathercraft Novlene Chopping Block ranges from $38.97 to $216.00.
Poundo or Rubber Boards
Poundo boards are also known as rubber boards, and it is perfect for blade protection or any shock absorption. When you are cutting or punching with leather tools, the blades usually pass through the leather and onto a surface underneath. When the surface is too hard, it could damage the blade of the knives that you use.
When the surface is soft, the blades will slightly go into the materials, protecting the blade as well as the surface underneath. The poundo boards are available in different sizes and usually are in black.
These rubber boards can be placed underneath the stone slabs as well. It will be excellent protection when you are punching or pounding and a great help with shock absorption. Make sure to choose a poundo board that is fitted on your workbench or table. You can also have one that you can be moved around.
Best Poundo Boards
The best poundo board in the market is Weaver Leather Silent Poundo Board. It has a rubber surface that helps protect knife edges and hole punches from dulling or chipping. It can absorb pounding, concussion, and sound. It is available in two sizes, which are 12 inches x 12 inch that cost $16.99, and 12 inches x 24 inch that costs $35.78.
Hydroma Cutting Board
The Hydroma cutting board is made in Germany by Roechling Company. When using this board, you can have optimum cutting results and accuracy. The boards are smooth on both sides and have a thickness of around one inch. These boards are thicker than other popular cutting mats in the market.
It can resist chipping or cracking and can withstand a fair amount of use. Roechling recommends these boards for your leatherworking needs. So, if you are looking for a thick and quality surface for cutting, then this is the board for you.
Best Hydroma Cutting Board
Now, the Hydroma cutting board offers different types of boards for different uses. The HY 71 Green is the best board that you can use for leather. It is made from leather fiber material and can protect the blades of your knives. Some professional leather crafters use this type of cutting board for their projects.
The Simple Poly Cutting Board
Now, poly cutting boards are simple cutting boards. You might even take it for a cutting board that you use in your kitchen. However, it is great for leatherwork because it absorbs impacts and vibration. These are plastic boards that are placed under leather when punching and cutting tools to protect the blades of your knives.
When you are punching leather, you need a tool placed on top of the leather and hit it with a maul or mallet. Now, when the blade passes through the leather, it makes contact with the surface underneath. If you have a metal surface, it can damage the cutting page and make it dull or ineffective.
When using this poly cutting board under the leather when punching or cutting allows the blade to enter into the softer plastic. This won’t harm the blade because the blade doesn’t go through the plastic. It will protect the work surface underneath. Now, this is a ubiquitous leather tool to have. They are available in different shapes, thicknesses, and colors.
Best Poly Cutting Board
The best poly cutting board that you can use is the Tandy Leather Cutting Board, which is available in white and weighs about eight ounces. It is a cheap investment so that you can protect your tools when doing different leather projects. It is made of high quality and can absorb impact. It measures about six by six inches and costs $10.06.
The Popular Japanese Cutting Mat
The Japanese Cutting Mat is one of the most popular choices when it comes to protecting your leather projects. They are about ¼ inch thick and can provide an all in one surface for your leather crafting projects. It would help if you took note that standard cutting mats are thin and great for cutting. At the same time, you would need sturdier surfaces for punching, prickling, and chiseling.
When you are doing projects that need the latter, you would need nylon boards or stone slabs. However, the Japanese cutting mat will be perfect for any of those activities, from punching to cutting. They are known to be versatile and usually available in opaque color. However, it is available in different colors as well.
It comes in different sizes and can be a bit more expensive than the other mats. This is because of all the functions that these mats offer when it comes to leatherworking.
Best Japanese Cutting Mat
The Rocky Mount Leather Japanese Cutting Mat is one of the best Japanese Cutting Mat that you can get. It is available from small to XL, where small measures about 270 by 380mm (11″ by 15″). Medium measures about 380 by 550mm (15″ by 22″) and large measures about 550 by 760mm (22″ by 30″). Lastly, the size XL measures about 1100 by 760mm (44″ by 30″).
The thickness of the mat is the same in all sizes, which is 6mm (¼”). The price ranges from $90 to $165.
Self Healing Cutting Mat
Self-healing cutting mats are composed of several layers of materials. With the layers of materials, you can make sure the longevity and sharpness of your knife blades. To ensure this, you need to use your blades on a soft surface. Hard surfaces could mar or disaffirm the blade.
These self-healing mats work great because they have layers of materials that will have all the knives sink into them without cutting it all the way through. When you have a self-healing mat, it will not only protect the blades but will also protect the surface that you are working on.
When the knife mark is made on a self-healing mat’s surface, the plastic in the material will push together and eliminate the previous visible cut. These mats usually come in green and white colors most of the time. In order to make life easier on you, these mats have measurement markings printed on them.
This would make laying out materials easier. It is also a sturdy surface to have, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your leather because your surface is not stable.
Best Self Healing Cutting Mat
The Dahle Vantage is the best self-healing cutting mat that you can purchase in the market. It is available in black, blue, and clear. It has five layers for the maximum working surface. The measurement guide contains inch, metric, and angled trimming. It is available in five sizes, so you can choose the mat that would be perfect for your projects.
The sizes are 9″ x12″, 12″ by 18″, 18″ by 24″, 24″ by 36″, and 36″ by 48″. The price range of the Dahle Vantage is from $10.22 to $268.27.
Anvil – The Iron Tool
Anvil is a steel or iron tool that is used for hitting surfaces for setting rivets. It is made from solid metal and serves a specific purpose in leatherworking. Most anvils are made from solid metal, where others have hollowed out areas that have a particular purpose. Now, these usually sit on top of tables or workbenches.
A typical anvil is solid and has a wide, flat surface where you can work on. It also has a rounded, curved end that tapers into a point. The flat surface is great for hitting, and the hallowed area is excellent for straightening metal pieces or loosening hardware or accessory storage.
Anvils are available in different sizes and are often determined by weight. They can range from a few ounces to 50 plus pounds for the larger ones. There are some anvils that you can make at home if you have the right tools and materials.
The Happybuy Single Horn Anvil is one of the best choices in the market. It is an iron anvil that has a fully polished surface area. It has an extra-long shopping horn design, and the top size is measured 11″ by four and ⅝” (279.4 by 117.5mm). Where the base size measures 10″ by 7″ (254 by 177.8mm). The machine has hardy holes with four anchor points.
This is considered a good mid-sized anvil. It is best for leather projects that are small to midsize jobs. It weighs about 68.6 pounds, and it is great for newbies.
The Best Leather Working Surface for Me
Now, you would need a working surface for different purposes. For instance, if you want a surface that will provide you with measurements and guides, the Dahle Vantage is the best choice for you. Aside from that, it is a self-healing mat that makes cutting easier and protects your blades from being damaged or dull. The guide is also a plus because you can measure the leather you need on top of the surface.
I use this type of leather, and it has made my life easier. I’m also amazed at the healing of the mat. When I’m done with a certain project, I couldn’t even tell whether there was work done on the surface. I placed my self-healing mat permanently on top of my workbench at all times, so it is always ready for me to do a particular project.
For projects that need hard-hitting, the Happybuy Single Horn Anvil is the perfect surface to have. It has a wide flat surface that you can use without having to worry about breaking since it is made from steel. Aside from that, you can also straighten some of the materials that you will need for your project, which may again come in handy.
Aside from mats, I also have an anvil as my tools. You would never guess how handy this tool can be. There are some projects that I do that require hard-hitting where I’m not comfortable doing on other working surfaces. I feel complacent when I use the anvil since I don’t have to worry about the force of hitting it too hard.
The workbench is also a perfect leather working surface that you should have in your home. If you are a professional and have been doing leatherwork for a while, you should have a workbench in your workshop. Not only it has a wide surface that you can work on, but it also has storage where you can keep your tools organized.
As I’ve mentioned above, I own a workbench, and it has helped me a lot when doing my projects. It keeps me organized throughout my project and keeps all my tools within reach when I need them.
Having multiple leatherworking surfaces is important because they have different purposes. With this said, you need to make sure that you only get the best material possible for your tools because it is the key to having successful and beautiful outcomes for your projects.
Now, it doesn’t have to be expensive to have a good and proper leather working surface. You can even achieve great projects in small spaces, and even one that is easy to set up for leatherworking. Once you are comfortable with the space that you are working in, it will be easier to determine the surface that you need to work in.
Maintenance for Your Working Surface
You can’t just keep using your leatherworking surface, and you also have to learn how to maintain them so that you make the most use out of them. When using any glue or dye, you need to make sure you wipe it off when you are done. This way, you can prolong the life of your leatherworking surface, and, of course, you need to keep all your tools cleaned at all times. You always want them to be ready for the next use.
As mentioned above, you would need the right surface for the right activity. This means you would need a particular working surface for punching, cutting, chiseling, etc. Also, when you are using marble slabs, you need to make sure it is well-positioned. This way, you can avoid any injuries that may happen while doing your project.
Make sure to place a permanent rubber mat underneath your marble slab if your slab is more than 12 by 16 inches. You can use a poundo board for these circumstances.
If you have a workbench, make sure it is always organized. Place the tools that need to go in the drawers and storage. Also, make sure that the surface is cleaned well when you are done with your projects. Always replace all tools and materials that are used on the surface, especially sharp and pointed tools.
With the proper maintenance, you can ensure that your tools and equipment will last for years to come. It is also great to have a habit to have your tools cleaned once you are done with your project. It doesn’t only promote cleanliness but will also have you always ready for your next project. No, hassle would be needed before starting a new one.
To do the best leather projects, you would need the best tools and equipment possible. Making sure that you have the best leatherworking surface can provide the beautiful and accurate outcomes that you want. The more work you put in leatherworking, it will be easier to determine the leatherworking surface you need for each project. Now that you have an idea of the functions of each leather working surface, I hope that you will find the one that suits you well. Happy crafting!