An overstitch wheel is a tool designed for marking stitch hole locations on leather. It is comprised of a wheel metal with sharp points that go all around it. When rolled onto the leather, the points leave a slight impression on the material. It serves as a perfect guide for pricking or stitching later on.
When you’re planning to hand-sew a piece, it’s helpful to know exactly where the stitch holes will be. While, one might use pricing irons to make these marks, each time the iron moves it might not be perfectly aligned with the previous one. An overstitch wheel, if used aligned to a straight edge, will provide a straight guide of hole marks in a very consistent pattern.
These tools come in various pattern sizes so you can find one that matches the stitch volume you need per inch. A range is certainly preferred as you might want larger spacing on thicker, larger leather pieces. And smaller, narrower spacing on smaller, more fine leather pieces.
Overstitch wheels can also be used after the stitching is complete, to go “over” the “stitches”. This gently presses them down, securing them more closely to the leather surface and leading to a more durable and aesthetically-pleasing stitch.
Some overstitch wheels come with a “fence”. This is an additional metal piece that attaches to the tool, allowing for a variable distance to be set for the wheel to be from the edge of the leather. For example, if you want the stitch line to be 1/4” off the leather’s edge, the fence can be set to 1/4”, and then wherever the tool is used the markings will be at a consistent distance from the edge.