Thursday, November 22, 2007

Leather Instruction Manuals

My Manuals are available from this Sales Page: as Downloads & form part of the series of 7 Manuals planned to cover all aspects of Commercial Leather Craft as practiced since the Victorian Era when individual Craftsmen created Leathergoods mainly by hand, with the assistance of Sewing Machines & other small hand operated machinery. This was mainly done in small Workshops in London & the Major Provincial Cities, this continued until the end of the last war in the UK,
After the war the number of these old firms that often originated in the Saddlery Trade & used the same techniques & standards that had evolved from earlier times began to decrease Companies sprang up mostly on a more mass production set up employing more staff, some using leather others working with the newer synthetic materials. The trend at first was to employ Bench Hands to perform part of the assembly & pass the articles on to another person to do the next bit. A skilled Craftsman was usually employed to oversee the production.
This worked reasonably well & standards did not suffer, the old Skilled Craftsmen began to retire but were replaced by Competent young blood provided by the two main Leather Colleges one in Walsall & one in London (Corwainers) where I was HOD until I retired. But that excellent 2 year full time Leathergoods Course is now defunct due to lack of Government funding. Which means that no more of those Students who were taught the traditional skills are emerging.
Now a hand full of those old specialist companies are still trading but finding it hard to find skilled Craftsmen (I wonder why). The Larger companies that were using Bench Hands have maintained their standard by ensuring that a College Student took over or a suitable employee was trained up prior to their old skilled Craftsman's retirement. But even some of these Large Production Companies have closed or re-located abroad due to the competition.
Worryingly from the point of view of traditional skills newer companies have emerged with none of the original know how. They use methods & finishes that bear no resemblance to those taught over the centuries, with simplicity, quickness, & a need for less skill plus as much mechanization as possible. I understand the reasons & the need to compete. Their products cant be faulted, they may be made using the quickest method & even some unique construction techniques. But the product serves the purpose it was made for, dose not Fall apart, & will last until it's owner discards it as it is made to fit a price margin
So why am I concerned or even bothered I live comfortably in retirement & I am possibly one of the few remaining Craftsmen of the old school that uses a computer extensively. I decided to produce these Manuals to preserve the old methods before they are eventually lost. This is not going to happen in the Saddlery Trade as they took steps to Ensure that their traditional Skills were adhered to with proper Training & Testing. Saddly this was missed by the Leather Industry.
A parallel Amateurs Craft developed in Night Classes taught by amateurs who had taught themselves from Books written by other enthusiastic amateurs Most of these Books originated in America. the techniques used were mainly what we referred to as Native Crafts. This was not a derogative reference to lack of skills but referred to the basic methods used by the Red Indians making their traditional articles from leather.
For those Traditionalists in America reproducing the unique Articles made & used by the various tribes this is great. & resembles the Re-enactors. However when the amateur methods are transferred to more modern articles the Thonging on bags & wallets produces a chunky article which has a limited market. Their work could be vastly improved by using Skiving, Turnovers, & Stitching, whether that be hand Stitching or machining. Now if I can add to their knowledge & expand their skills I will have helped them as well. I have not mentioned their Surface Decoration (We referred to this a Tooling & leather Carving). Again this evolved from the American Native Tribes. It is an Art Form & some of the exponent are also Brilliant Artists.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tools & Supplies

First I must apologise for the long delay in adding any posts to this Blog. It was manly due to poor health last year which culminated in a severe heart attack last February. This necessitated heart surgery in the form of two separate operations to implant double Stent’s in the two main arteries I had further minor heart attacks during both operations. (The joys of growing old!!.)

Consequently I have been hard pushed to keep up with administering my site, dealing with inquiries & adding new site members. Since the end of May & this has also resulted in a further delay in finishing my 4th Manual on “Bag Making”

I have been reading some of the nice comments made about this Blog & would like to thank all of you for those kind words & also for Bookmarking it. Someone was asking if I did all the work on my site myself? The answer is yes as this is more of a service than a business, the income from it only supplements my pension. If anyone wishes to contact me there are contact facilities provided on my site I prefer that to direct emails as it poses a problem for spammers.

Right I have deviated somewhat from recent additions to Hale & Co Page at We have progressed from that sparse & tentative entry, to a full tool kit offer base on my recommendations. This is offered by Hale & Co at a discount, naturally as these tools are top class, (mostly made in Sheffield) they are still expensive. I have also listed them individually with pictures so that Artisans can purchase individually, (don’t forget in some areas the purchase of tools can be set against Tax).

I said that this was a kit of tools but I should have mentioned that there are still some gaps in the list & The Sheffield Tool Manufacturer is striving to reintroduce all the missing ones that are within his scope. However there are some tools, or should I say equipment that need to be completely resurrected. Stitching Clamps for instance, yes before someone points it out Stitching Clamps are still made but these are heavy cumbersome things cut from solid blocks of wood & nothing like the old ones that I inherited from my Great Grandfather. They were steamed & bent into shape from much thinner wood.

A source of supply for the Buck Fat is imminent & I might have a source for Bees Wax (or I would if the owner of the Bee Farm in Suffolk had given me his correct phone number). He must have been imbibing at the Festive Board heavier than I thought. I am also still struggling to get supplies of Hand Stitching Thread. There is a supplier listed on my site but they are not very responsive to emails at present, more on this when I manage to reach the right contact.

Other Blogs & Sites, there is already an existing Blog on the Big Daddy Blog Landing page which covers my research into the origins of Homo Sapiens with regards to his use of Leather. Find that one here: I am also about to launch
a new mini site or Blog on Google Page Creator. Titled “Make It With Leather” This one is aimed at those who are interested in learning to become a Leather Artisan, more about this when it launches.
I have also started a Yahoo group at: This has being joined by some of the Manual Owners who have been using my Leather Instruction Manuals over the past few years as well as some of the newer Manual owners. This group is not however restricted to Manual Users & anyone can join in & ask questions, some of these members of the group are skilled Artisans themselves & can answer questions relating to their own specific field of Leather expertise. For instance two are Saddlers & one of them is also a leading exponent on Leather surface Decoration. Drop by & take a look at their profiles.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Updates from TLC

New services available to all Manual Users, visitors who have inquired about manuals, visitors who have signed up on-line & not left a comment & those kind visitors that said how much they appreciated the site. I also get a lot of calls & emails from the general public & business visitors with inquiries that could be answered by searching the Research & Reference section situated under the cave painting on my home page, headed; “Membership Categories” These lists rival Google’s DMOS list.

For those of you who are still wavering about purchasing my Manuals, you won’t find any other on-line publication offering this amount of craft skills & technology & the personal backup by phone or email is in line with most Governments e-learning requirements. My background as a College HOD & City & Guilds Moderator for their now defunct leathergoods courses endorses my claim that the full set of manuals are equal to a 2 year full time college course. I can say that with conviction as I was involved with constructing that old course & delivering it.

I have a new Blog which I am using as an on-line news letter please link to it to read new site info as it gets added, I hope to post to it once every two weeks. read it at; . there is also another Blog that might prove interesting on search Big Daddy's Blog Landing site. This one traces the history of leather from it's early use by Homo Sapiens to Stone Age Man & beyond. I am at present unable to convert this to an RSS Feed but the following URL will take you to Google’s link to the Blog Landing entry; (you will need to copy & past it into a search box). The article differs a bit from the Anthropologists view as I wrote it from my understanding of Leather.

I you are interested in signing up to use Search Big Daddy’s Search box & get paid for just searching (you get credits which can be converted into cash) Then just use this link; This is a new Search Engine & On-line Service which has been on line for less than a year but it is growing fast & will eventually rival the big three of Google, Yahoo & MSN. Why should I believe this? Well apart from all the new services they offer there is one major difference, Search Big Daddy pay you to search the Internet using their search engine. No one else does that; you can build up points which are convertible into cash. If you have a web site you can also purchase Key Words which give you top places in your chosen area of expertise. You can also purchase key words or key Phrases which are displayed on Splash Pages, I have got some & they are producing more visitors & customers. To sign up click the following link.

Search Big Daddy’s list of benefits you can take advantage of when you sign up;
Blog Landing Page, free service with an account, this is easy to use & gives similar features to Google’s Blogger.
Big Daddy Friends, This is a closed environment only available to Search Big Daddy members. You create a profile & can pick & choose who you accept on your list. It is an opportunity to correspond with like minded members.
Support Desk, this one gets answered quickly & is easy to use.
Members Forum, Good & lots of topics.
Search Big Daddy’s answer to YouTube Yes you can load you own videos there providing you are a signed up member.
A City Key Word Manager, This is waiting to be launched, sign up & get your own local city, recruit local Businesses & sell them key Words on your local Splash Page (like a bulletin board or the Add’s section of a Local Paper or Local Yellow Pages). Someone clicks the link & that business advert is displayed.

A New on-line co-operation has been slowly developing between Hale & Co. an American Leather & Leather Tool Distributor & The leather Connection. Setting this up has taken nearly a year & has involved sourcing tools that are in short supply, co-operation from a UK Tool Manufacturer to re-introduce missing tools, Plus an ongoing search for makers to supply some still missing tools from the proposed Professional Leather Workers Tool Kit. The Kit caries the information That it is recommended for use with my Manuals. The List is available as a download from the following Landing Page;

It is not required that you purchase all the tools listed as we realise that existing manual users may already have acquired a partial tool kit. Some of these tools are rather expensive, but no where near as dear as those in an Engineers Kit. The UK Tool Manufacturer has yet to start making these tools again, however whilst looking for patterns & dyes in an old warehouse boxes of finished & unfinished tools were found from the date shortly after the last war when the company stopped making them.

Among the available tools were Pricking Irons. These are always in short supply & once they are sold it will be some while before new ones are available. It is also uncertain if the current price will hold. Of the partially made tools A box of Plough Gauges was found un-assembled but with the Brass Roller missing. Rollers will shortly be made so that the Plough Gauges can be added to the kit. These tools are not cheap, but top quality tools never are. An engineer will have to pay 4 to 5 thou for their kit.

Yes there are cheaper tools which will suffice for the people that only make up the occasional home kit. But these will not stand the sort of heavy day to day use that an Artisan will put them to. In the past I have tested this type of tool & the main problem is that they are made from inferior steel, edges of punches curl when used on heavy leather, it is difficult to get an edge on knives, stitching awls are soft & the points bend in use. I am aware that good quality tools can be damaged by poor usage but my Manual No.1 deals with that subject.

One important Item that is still missing is a Stitching Clamp To help out I have designed a Temporary Stitching Clamp & that is also available as a download from the above Landing Page. We are now in the process of developing traditional Stitching Clams like the very old ones I inherited from my Great Grandfather & we have already produced some excellent proto-type Loop Clamps these could soon be available. Some Buck Fat (as we used to call it) has also been created, this is far superior for sealing & burnishing raw edges of leather after staining than the Dubbing & other hard Wax finishes that are now sold.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Update On Hale & Co

It is some while now since I updater this Blog & things have been a bit hectic with many additions to the site & me desperately trying to finish the 4th Manual in the series. (Now well overdue).

Slow Progress is being made On the joint effort involving Hale & Co, but it is now possible to download two section of their Massive Catalogue direct from my site. I wont bore all readers with full detail as regards what is available as that is explained in detail on my site, including the page numbers to access. What I must stress however if you do download these free catalogues please do not take prices quoted as gospel. Prices flucturate & my copies are not up todate & if anyone is thinking of ordering tools you should check the current prices from Hale & Co's site.

To Download my Copies go to & click on the Hale & Co Page shown in the list at the top of my Home Page.

If you want to check out the current prices, go to; & follow the instructions to download their relevant sections of their massive Crafts Catalogue.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Leather News, Tools &top Quality Leather.

A Unique Service Provided By Hale & Co. & Supported by TLC.

The Crafts in general & in particular Leather Craft have been neglected & marginalised since the end of the last World War. Culminating in the lack of training facilities, qualifications, Supplies & Tools. The Leather Industry has suffered as well through neglect by a variety of Governments within the English speaking areas specifically & to a lesser degree elsewhere. All Craftsman/Artisan Shares the same interests, we share an affinity, use the same tools & materials & can converse happily on our given subject.

All This is about to change As Hale & Co. Supported By The Leather Connection, Selected Tool Manufacturers, Tanners & other Suppliers respond to the increasing demand for access to Crafts in general & a higher level of skills in Leather work as opposed to the usual low level available with Home Assembly Kits. Home Kits are fine as a starter but there will come a time when the serious student wishes to proceed to the next stage & create their own designs.
This is where Hale & Co. come in. Things are still at an early stage & you will all have to bear with us as we develop it further. At present There is a wide selection of Leather Working Tools Available. (Visit; ) This list is not conclusive As the production of some tools are still under negotiation. (Stitching Irons or Pricking Irons to give them their traditional name). I get lots of requests for these & Hale & Co. is pulling out all the stops to get some made that provide accurate spacing between the teeth as well as some matching pairs.
A selection of Top Quality hides are currently available & negotiations are taking place to offer & range of economically priced Exotic Leathers. Starter boxed tool kits will be available together with a copy of my Instruction Manual No.1 which covers all the basic techniques including Cutting & Costing. (These Last two important areas are not dealt with in any previous books on Leather Work but are essential if you wish to make a profit from your Leather Work).
In time Shops & Suppliers in designated areas will be established as well as Qualified Instructors & Assessors, (the latter will only be possible if a suitable body can be found to endorse a Leather Craft Qualification).

This is going to take time & will need the help & support of all interested parties. If you are as passionate about this Ancient Craft as we are then join us. For further information contact us & let us know about you & your special interests.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Exotic Leathers

There is an increase in the use of exotic skins produced in the far east by Leather Goods Manufacturers, Fashion Designers, Interior Designers, Furniture Designers, etc. in Paris, London, New York & other major fashion centres. What is of interest is that all these skins are a by- product of the food industry in that area of the globe & until a few years ago were discarded as waste.

TLC in conjunction with MPL (Thailand) offer a large range of these skins as well as a selection of leather Goods, Furniture, Footwear, Jewelery, etc. The lists are now too long to confine to one page & we at TLC have separated the Finished Goods From the Exotic Skins & created a new page for them on the site.

To view this range of highly fashionable creations go to & look for the Leathergoods offered by TLC & MPL Made from Shagreen & other Exotic Leathers, in the list at the top of the home page.

There are some solid Silver Bangles with Shagreed insets, Shagreen Watch Straps, Oriental Coffee Tables with Shagreen Covered Tops, & a vast Range of leathergoods Made from Shagreen & other Exotic Leathers.

Shagreen is a fashion term for the hard wearing skin of the Stingray a fish caught in the Far East for food. (Much as we do in the North with Skate). But unlike skate these skins are now Tanned & put to good use. Before this was done the skins were like Skate discarded as waste. However the local fishermen always kept some to use as a substitute for Sandpaper when building their boats. Yes stingray skin in it's raw state is that hard.

Once tanned the beauty of the pebbled grain & the Jewel Pattern are stunningly effective & definitely a must have item for the fashion conscious. For more information contact us at the above URL.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Shagreen Leathergoods From Thailand

New from MPL Thailand, Solid Silver Bangles with a Shagreen Insert. (Can be any colour Shagreen or two-tone). A great fashion line & ideal gifts for that special occasion. This coupled with the exquisit copper bowls, The Ocasional Tables & the Top Quality Leathergoods available from MPL Thailand made from Shagreen.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Shagreen it is the Fashion term for Stingray Leather. With it's hardwearing surface structure, Pebbled grain & destinctive jewel mark it is now a Must Have fashion item favoured by Top Designers, Interior Decorators & Furniture Designers.

Stingray is a substainable speices & is caught as part of the food chain in the Far East & eaten much as we do with Skate in the Northern Hemisphere. Fishermen in that region used Stingray skins in their raw state as a substitute for sandpaper on their boats when building them & until it was realised that there was a comercial market for them these beutiful skins were destroyed as waste from the fishing & food industry. This applies to all the other skins availabl as they are farmed & killed for food in that region The disaster last Christmas made living, feeding & surviving even more dificult for the indigenous population of that ares of the Globe.

To view the range of goods available visit & on the home page click on 'Exotic Leathers From MPL Thailand.