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Reflections on a Year of Leatherworking: Celebrating My Anniversary

Updated: Feb 6

So I’ve walked my mile in a leatherworker’s shoes and I’m digging it. January 2024 marks my 1 year anniversary in leatherworking and I hope others will agree that I’ve matured as a crafter and my products have improved. If you haven’t yet, please read my blog post about how Imperial Pine Leather was born after my son asked for some leather and a Dremel for Christmas in 2022. His desire to work with leather and wood was the jump start to my hobby in leatherworking which then grew into a side hustle/small business. I’m going to relay to you how my “shop”/dining room table/garage space has changed over the last 12 months.



Naturally you can’t start creating amazing leather goods without: 1. Leather, 2. Tools to convert the leather to the goods, and 3. A space to create. Once I saw how much fun it would be to make wallets, belts keychains, etc. I purchased a beginner’s leather kit of my own. The kit I purchased from Amazon was perfect for my needs at the time. It included all the basic tools needed to discover leatherworking. It had a variety of punches, pricking irons for stitching holes, a wood slicker/burnisher, a mallet, an edge beveler/stitch groover combo, a straight edge, some waxed thread, needles, some tooling stamps, and several other tools that I never got around to using much. Now this set of tools was pretty comprehensive for a starter; however, hindsight would say that if I knew I would be creating wallets, belts and keychains without a focus on leather tooling, then I would have preferred to use the $65 or so to get better quality bevelers, knives, etc. right out of the gate. But….at the time I had no idea what I was going to be doing or getting into so it was perfect.


During this exploration phase of my hobby, I would play around with the tools and the one square foot leather pieces I had, mostly learning how to use all the new tools, understand the process of producing a product (wallets were first), and learning how to saddle stitch. At the time I would pull out the folding case of tools and get to work on the dining room table when I had some time in the evening, which was fine for then.





This phase was a lot of fun and revived the sleeping creative beast within me. I consumed a ton of content via YouTube and Google searches about crafting different leather goods. I wanted to do it all! Sooo...I used my complex adult brain to slow the roll and slowly started upgrading some tools and getting better leather. But to keep it on the cheaper side, a lot of the first “products” I created, were from a box of Horween Dublin scraps that I purchased off Etsy. True there were some pieces that weren’t ideal for making into wallets but it gave me excellent leather to practice my craft with quality materials. I tried several different free templates and designed a wallet with my son (the EJS #1) which definitely had some design hiccups but was a lot of fun to make.


As I refined my craft, began upgrading my tools, and started using better materials, my wallets started coming together to the point that I started sharing with my friends and family, and replaced my basic leather daily carry wallet with a handmade Horween wallet (and subsequently have gone through a few other designs). During this refinement phase, my “shop” was probably at its peak location which was my home office, a ~10’x12’ room which was perfect for my 3’x7’ work table, all my tools, and I could work inside even at night. Granted, I wasn’t able to, or I tried my best not to be punching holes or using the pricking irons since I didn’t want to wake the kids with all the pounding, it was still better than working out in the hot & sweaty, or frigid cold garage (where I’m at now).




But as kids grow and mature, they need their own space so we converted the office/shop to a kids bedroom and I got moved to the garage. It was a great move in the sense that it forced us to clean out the half of our garage that was used for storing everything that didn’t have a place in the house, and allowed me to be less quiet while working. At this point I needed to upgrade my tool storage so I did what humans do best and looked to what the other leather crafters I was following were doing for storage and landed on a mechanics cart on wheels. So far it has been AMAZING. I am not the most organized person so given the space and lack of need to put my tools away I tend to leave a mess behind. This new setup in the garage changed my tidiness in the sense that I don’t want to leave my tools/materials scattered around the garage (chickens want to be in the garage to stay warm and they poop EVERYWHERE!) so all my tools having their own space on the cart makes it much easier to clean up…and easier to find the tools when I need them.


Tools are better and more organized, now I just need to find more time to create. The tough part about working a 9-5 day job with a 45 minute commute (work from home a few days a week) and having four high energy young kids, is my craft time is limited to the night time after kids are asleep. Fortunately, my two oldest (7 & 9) are super creative and have some interest in creating leather crafts is that I can get 30 minutes here or there to work on a project with them. I am hoping that as they age, they will want to continue working with leather and we can expand to a father/child business format.



A lot has changed over the year and it feels like Imperial Pine Leather is going in the right direction. I can’t wait to follow up on my 2nd Leatherwork birthday in 2025 and see how things have progressed. There are already a few other product lines/projects in the works to expand my lineup past wallets, belts and keychains…fingers crossed they work out. I will see how the different products do at some craft fairs/markets I have coming up in 2024, more on those next time.

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