Leatherwork: Materials & Methods

In producing fine leather goods, fine materials and careful technique are of the utmost importance. Commercial mass-production invariably compromises these. Our practices differ from most in several ways:



We use only full-grain, vegetable-tanned cattle hide in our craft.

Rather than focus on one particular region or supplier’s brand, it is important to recognise that there can be great variation in leather, depending on a number of factors. Growing conditions, processing, handling & storage; all play a role in determining the qualities of the final product.

Additionally, we feel it is vital to obtain leather as early on as possible in its processing. This way we can be sure that there are no compromises in quality at the supplier level.

We vary our purchasing, depending on what we see and touch; if nothing of a suitable quality is available, we acquire nothing. We reject damage which might compromise the strength of the finished product. We will have nothing to do with leathers which have been split in thickness, imprinted with a faux grain pattern, or are pre-stained or oiled (which can hide flaws). We often examine each hide in a bale, front and back, before adding any to our stock.



We use hand-waxed linen thread for seam-work.

We source our sewing thread from bookbinding suppliers, which ensures archival-quality and maximum resilience. We have personally examined leather goods made over a century ago, using linen thread that today remains strong & secure.

Each thread is coated by us with a compound of beeswax and resin, which serves to waterproof the seams & lock each stitch in place. This wax treatment is the same as that documented by both British shoemakers and Nordic knifesmiths at least as far back as the late 1800s.

In keeping with best practices pre-dating machine work, we do not machine sew, or hammer our seams to finish them. We exclusively hand sew, using traditional double-needle ‘saddle’ stitching. This ensures that each stitch is locked in place, providing maximum strength. Seams are rubbed down, which further protects them from wear, and preserves the leather from unnecessary compression (hammering a seam was once considered, for good reason, a shameful short-cut).



Edges are hand-treated with hide glue and beeswax.

Almost all leather goods today, including luxury brands, have their edges finished by coating them with coloured plastic (vinyl). While this can look smart at first, matching the colour of the goods and being perfectly smooth, they often peel off over time. We abhor and reject this practice.

Traditional methods, while far more labour-intensive, result in a far better end result. Edges are moistened and coated with hide glue (the same used by woodworkers for thousands of years), then gently burnished to bond the leather fibres together. A thin coating of beeswax is then applied and burnished smooth, resulting in a water-resistant, flexible & smooth edge.



We use only solid copper & brass hardware, made in North America.

We hand-hammer rivet-and-burr reinforcements on all stress points. Solid cast brass buckles, studs, and rings are used for maximum strength.