Cheap Tools Cost More

I started this journey into the world of leathercrafting with a cheap set of dime-store-quality beginners tools. Nearly all of them have been upgraded over time. We all learn along the way that it is just easier to buy good-quality tools from the start.

I was working on a bag last night. I rolled the edges for a clean, professional look and glued them down. The cheap little roller that I bought early on, broke in the middle of rolling one of these edges. It didn’t ruin the project but now it will cost me more money to go buy a solid, high-quality roller to add to my toolkit and the broken one will land in a parts bin.

I know the argument against it is that if you get into the craft and find that it is not for you, you are not out a whole lot of money. The problem with this sentiment is that buying cheap tools can lead to problems and frustration while new crafters are just learning.

Buying cheap tools costs more in the long run. It is actually cheaper to buy high-quality tools right away, and if leathercrafting is just not for you, those tools can be sold to recoup some of your initial expenses.

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I agree wholeheartedly, but did the same thing you did. I bought some cheaper tools and slowly upgraded them. One advantage of doing it this way…there are some of the cheaper tools I have not upgraded because they never get used. If I did buy the expensive versions, I could have sold them, but sometimes that in itself is a hassle. My initial investment was only about $100 so it wasn’t too much to write off as an experience. Now my inventory of tools, dyes, etc. are in the $1000’s of dollars. Don’t know if the wifee would have gone for that out of the gate.

In God’s Grace,

Pastor Bob

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:8

I forget sometimes that I have the added blessing of being a single man with nobody to answer to when I spend money. I agree with you about having tools I never use. I have an entire box of them.

One lesson I was taught when I was woodworking is only buying the tools you need for the current job. Over time they will add up and eventually you will have an entire workshop full of tools and the knowledge to use them all. One thing nobody ever talked about was buying that one tool for that one job that you will never use again.

Great thoughts all around, especially with the tool for one job that never gets use again. I used some of that inspiration after looking through my basement. There were specialized tools for this job and that job where some quality basic tools and a little more effort would usually get the same result. I cleaned out a lot.

When getting into leatherworking, I tried to take that minimalist approach. I think all in my first set of tools was around $115 or so. I aimed to buy the “middle level” of the most basic.

So for example, I didn’t get the $7 edger, I got the $15 edger, and not the $75 edger.

Or, got the $16 single hole punch for the most common-sized holes I would start with, instead of the $12 set of 10 cheap hole punches.

I found with a little research, and often not too much more money, the options above the very cheapest can offer a good balance of price/quality.

Then, I look at the antique vergez tools and want to buy them all haha :slight_smile:

It would be cool to have a collectors thread to see any cool antique tools that folks have or use. So many leather working tools have remained mostly the same for years and years.

I hear that a lot about that buying cheap set is not a good idea, and Amazon reviews are not helping.

I live in the Middle East “Dubai”, and looking to buy my first complete set for beginners.

Any suggestions?

This is an ongoing conversation that has many facets to it. There are two schools of thought.

  1. Buy only the tools you need for the job you are planning to do.
    For instance; If you are planning to make a belt that doesn’t require glue or stitching, you can forego the adhesives, the thread, needles, and chisel punches (used to make the stitching holes).
    On the other hand, if you want to make something like a wallet or cardholder that needs multiple layers, you will need the adhesives, the thread, needles, chisel punches, and such, but the round hole punch set that you would have needed to make the belt can maybe wait for now.
    As you do each project, you buy just the tools you need for it. As you complete various projects, your collection of tools will grow, and you gain proficiency in using each of them with time and practice. You will also have on hand just the tools you need without having a box of tools you either never touch or don’t like using. That is something you will find if you buy a starter kit. There will be tools you may pick up once and never touch again.

  2. Buy a cheap starter kit and try it out. If you don’t like LW, then you are not out of a bunch of money.
    This is a popular argument but a flawed one. Common wisdom tells us that it is not the tools that make a project but the skills of the craftsman using them. While it is true that someone with experience can use cheap tools and create a beautiful thing, it is the experience of using those tools that will likely chase away a new crafter. If you can’t find joy in the tools you are using to do the task at hand, are you really going to want to continue down that path? Spending the money to buy quality tools right out of the gate will save you money in the long run because you will not be purchasing them twice. Acquiring quality tools right away will also let you sell them to other crafters if you find Leatherworking is not for you.

I have a couple of quick questions - What are you hoping to create? What is your budget for tools? Instead of suggesting a kit to you, maybe some of us can help you choose just tools you will need for the thing you want to make.

Thanks a lot for the fast reply.

well, I was really impressed by the work of the Facebook sensation, HAHNS ATELIER.

I wanted to start working in wallets primarily. starting with simple bi-fold ones for me and something for the wife.

As my skills grow, I might work on purses, belts, but that’s basically it.