The Secrets Of Cutting Leather Like A Pro

Cutting is one of the skills you should master in leather working. It is easy to cut, but the challenge is making precise leather cuts. A small cutting error may ruin the whole process. However, it can be learned through practice and having patience. There are different techniques applied to different types of leather to achieve a perfect art of leathering. Furthermore, practicing the methods in cutting helps you exhibit excellent leather cutting skills like a pro.

How to cut leather smoothly? Lay the leather on the cutting mat with the grain side up, and place the template or ruler on top. Use its edge as a cutting guide. Concentrate during cutting and hold the ruler and the cutting tools firmly. 

Having the skills to cut leather smoothly will take you to the next level. I can attest to this because it is a fundamental skill in leather crafting. You will indeed produce impressive outputs if you start right. The proper way of cutting, finding out the best cutting tools, learning consistent techniques in getting a straight cut, cutting thick and thin leather, and leather curves and tips is crucial. This article will talk about cutting different leather smoothly, just like an expert, and the ideal tools for a smooth leather cutting process.

Taking Into Account The Leather Quality and Tools

Some leather is difficult to cut, which needs the right cutting tools that depend upon leather types. Regardless of leather types, all the cutting tools must be sharp enough for the best results. 

Leather Qualities

Before cutting the leather, some qualities must be put into consideration to proceed with the process smoothly. The non-uniform outer contour in the leather must be checked because, during processing, some leathers come out with an uneven outer layer. The leather surface defects are usually cut or smoothened out when marking and cutting to get them a clean, flawless surface. 

Second is the grain pattern differences that should be thoroughly checked so that cutting follows the grain directions giving it more durability and appealing finished product. Also, the natural markings on leather can be removed or enhanced if you want to retain the rustic, and natural look.

Basic Leather Cutting 

There are many essential tools in leather craft, and there are ones that are primarily for cutting. For a start, a utility knife is used for general cutting purposes. A hobby craft knife is another sharp blade for cutting that works like a utility knife. A rotary cutter is a standard cutting tool that is used for several purposes. 

Another tool is the heavy-duty scissors that also work in cutting thick leather. Also, a metal ruler needs to be prepared as a cutting guide. A cutting mat is also included for it helps the smooth cutting procedure and prevents the blades from going blunt. Most importantly, a handy health kit just in case of an emergency like cuts or blisters from the first try on using these tools, especially for beginners.

In leather cutting, it is necessary to remember to follow the leather’s grain just like in any leather process such as burnishing, skiving, and the likes. 

Prep The Pattern And Lay It Out

A pattern serves as the blueprint for cutting leather correctly. It may be difficult for the beginner, but it will give the best result both for the leather cutting and designing after making one. 

Necessary Tools

Without a pattern, it is impossible to make the simplest leather design. The pattern paper is the paper sheet used in creating patterns. You should use this paper because it allows the pencil to glide smoothly, leaving definite marks. However, any piece of your choice will also work. Some crafters prefer to glue their patterns in chipboard for more extended use. Pencils and erasers are needed to draw for leather patterns, both in pattern paper and leather, to change the design as you go smoothly.

Paper scissors are another tool for cutting the pattern sheet. Colored pencil is essential for different markings (cut lines, sew lines, etc.). It is also ideal to use a clear ruler in making straight lines that are also needed in making leather patterns. You can also prepare an over-stitch wheel and a French curve for pattern details.

For people inclined to software, you can use a vector design program like Adobe Illustrator or Autodesk graphic to quickly create and design patterns. Print it out and cut it for use. There are also readily available pre-made patterns that you can use if you prefer to.

Just Do It

The pattern serves as a template in cutting the right cut of the leather. It serves as a guide while cutting that will help you avoid minor and significant cutting errors. It makes leather cutting easier and can help you save time. Just place the pattern in the leather and make sure all pattern pieces are ready and complete. Again, you can use a pre-made design or use your own, which can show your creativity.

Ready The Guide And Mark The Leather

Marking is necessary when cutting leather. It will guide where to cut, trim and sew. The tools required do not only end with a simple pencil or marker. It has many marking tools as well as techniques to permanently or temporarily mark the leather. 

Necessary Tools

Marking may be temporary or permanent that is necessary for your craft. Marking pens are commonly used in making these lines and curves on the leather. Some leather workers use silver marking pens for marks that are easy to see but can be erased quickly, leaving no trace. 

You can also check out margins markers, leather overstitch wheel, leather pricking wheel, leather stippler, and a leather corner tool for more marking tools. Again, you can always go back to the most basic pencil and a scratch awl. 

Just Do It

You can start marking the cutting lines with marking pens of your choice when you already laid the leather pattern by following the pattern’s design. You can also mark stitch hole locations on leather by using a leather overstitch wheel. Of course,  you can always use a scratch awl for marking the leather. You just drag across the scratch awl on the leather leaving a mark you can follow later on.

Be Brave and Cut it Out Like A Pro

Cutting plays another vital role in leather crafting. It is an important skill to have when cutting leather. Hence, practicing it needs a proper way with appropriate cutting tools depending upon the types of leather. 

Necessary Tools

In performing cutting procedures, always remember to keep the cutting tools sharp. You can use a standard utility knife which is the most common cutting and slicing tool. Swivel knives are also essential in cutting for detailed purposes. It does not only cut but thins out leather pieces to achieve the perfect thickness when glued together. Curve knives are the tools used for accurate cutting jobs. 

Leather shears are the tool used to cut pieces of leather efficiently. A cutting mat is also needed because you place your leather while cutting to keep your blades’ sharp state. Rotary cutters are the common cutting tools in leather with several purposes and are usually used in thick leather cutting and Xacto knives that can be used for fine leather works.

Just Do It

Cutting is usually done on the grain side where there are no hair side or the outside surface. Make sure that the leather is always positioned this way.  Place the ruler on top and use its edge as a cutting line. It is essential to use appropriate cutting tools on different leather types to get the smooth output you want.

Knives or any cutting tools play an essential role in leather crafting. It will not only help the job done but also guarantee excellent finished leather products. Many different knives are used to cut the leather, and choosing the best and right knife will help you cut smoothly.  

Hacks On Achieving Crisp and Clean Edges 

The challenge is getting a clean-cut, especially when making an extended straight cut. Sometimes, you will get an uneven leather surface and inconsistent line. With the right tools and techniques, this will be easy. 

Straight Long Cut

A wooden strap cutter is commonly used when making the straight cut for leather or straps for bags, belts, and the likes. It is paired with a steel ruler used as a guide in cutting. A non-slip tape is also an ideal tool for a straight cut so that the ruler would not slip as the leather cutting is ongoing. Having this tool ensures an accurate cutting result.

The cutting surface also helps in leather cutting. Lay the leather down on the cutting mat or a pounding board. Paste the non-slip tape behind the steel square or any sturdy ruler. Put down the square steel on top of it and hold down the steel square. Start cutting with a sharp leather cutter and cut twice by following the same pattern without the steel square. Make sure to cut at a shallow angle when making the second cut. 

One of the best knives for this job is the banyour knives. It feels stable when used, weighing three ounces which makes them more comfortable to use. Its cutting edge is intensely sharp and easy to keep sharp, suitable for several leather cuttings. It is designed for crafting, which results in long straight cuts, skiving, and detailed cuts. 

You can also check the Tandy leather al stohlman brand round leathercraft knife and the Tandy leather industrial knife. The former is one of the best leather cutting tools because of its all-around ability to cut. It is suitable for all kinds of leather cutting, like general cut and subtle detailing. It weighs nine points six ounces which means less pressure in cutting. Its handle is made of wood which makes it more comfortable to handle.  

While the latter is designed for professionals but beginners can still use and practice this tool. It is also extremely sharp and will last for many more years. This knife has two blades. One of the blades is used in detailed cuts.

Cutting Thin or Stretchy Leather

Because of its thin quality, it is difficult to cut. Thin leather is easily destroyed or rippled and may be difficult, but with suitable tools, it is possible. Place the leather down and use the ruler edge on top as a cutting guide. 

One of the best tools to use is a rotary cutter. Cut right against the edge of the ruler while pushing down with enough pressure. As you cut, make sure that your hand supports the ruler and that it is in the same place where you cut.

You can also use scissors if you do lacing on your leather. Using a scissor will make you produce a rounded edge faster than a knife; just make sure to make an even width on both sides.

Cutting Thick And Bulky Leather

The process of cutting thick leather is the same as thin leather cutting. Their only difference is the cutting tools. Thick leather is comfortable to cut, requiring a sharp hobby knife and a sturdy ruler to achieve a straight cut. If you ensure that you are using a sharp blade, you will have no problem cutting thick leather comfortably than thin leather. A hobby knife with a very sharp blade is commonly used in cutting thick leather. 

Then, lay the leather and use a  heavy ruler to guide you while cutting by just holding it firmly. Hold the ruler down and cut until you finish the process. Use its edge as a cutting line or cutting guide, or you can also mark the cutting line using a ruler before cutting. Drag the knife along the cut marks or cut lines. Heads up! You definitely will need arm strength for cutting thick leathers, so make sure your blades are well sharpened to get going easier.

Cutting Leather Tips and Circles

If your cutting process involves making and smoothing out tips, always keep the blade perpendicular to the leather so that your cut will be accurate. Keep the knives sharp so that you always sharpen the blade or knives before and after cutting for the best leather crafting.

If you want to get a small circle, you can use your regular punches on the leather and just punch it out. For larger circles, you can use a compact type cutter. Set the circles on the leather. Place an awl on the center and work around with a sharp knife or a rotary cutter following the marks. One tip is that if you do not have a budget for large punches, just drag and turn around the leather with the scratch awl on the center and go along.

Guide your body during cutting instead of your wrist, keep your elbow close to your body, and use your shoulder to cut motion. Doing these techniques help you track the blade or knife if it has remained straight and along the tip.

Cutting Rounded Leather Corners

Cutting around corners may be challenging, but you can use any rounded objects like a coin as a guide. You can use a round corner punch but not having this is not a limitation. Put the coin on the corner and follow its shape. Cut using a sharp blade at different angles. When you already cut the corner, you can use 400-600 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. This is only ideal for relatively thick leather.


Using the best cutting tools for leather cutting is satisfying because it will aid your stitching process. The right leather tool to match your leather thickness and type is the perfect recipe for cutting leather smoothly.  Your skills and these tips will make it very easy and manageable, not just for the seasoned leatherworker but also for the newbies. Apply these tricks and be able to cut leather like a piece of cake.

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