Well, I mean the often fuzzy ‘under’ side or flesh side of veg tan leather.

There is some people who think that a smooth backside to the leather means a higher quality. A smooth back (flesh) side of leather is merely achieved in the tanneries when they split the hides to get them an even thickness.

However, often it is nice to have the back of your project nice and smooth, a belt, for example.

There are a few ways of doing this – here are the two methods I use most often.

If you use Eco-Flo Pro Stain on a belt or project, use the stain on the back as well – it will slick down the fleshside beautifully and should not bleed off on clothes after you have sealed it with a finish. I have carried a piece of leather with this Pro Stain on both sides – no finish – in my pants pockets for a year and there was no bleeding at all.

Second method:

Get hold of Gum Tragacanth. You can apply that a little at a time and rub down the back of the leather with an old spoon. To smooth it down even more permanently, you can then cover the back of the leather with Super Sheen – an acrylic product that will effectively seal off the back of the leather.

Both these products are available at your local leather supply store or they should be able to order it for you.

FuzziesThe belt piece before anything is done to it – you can see the typical loose fuzzies on the back.


After the gum has dried on the leather you can see the difference between the covered part and the untreated part.


This is a very upclose of the treated back side of the piece of belt.

This post from August 2007 has been updated. The gentleman in the videos is my long time friend and mentor, Larry Moskiewicz

The Making of a Knife Sheath

This post shows some basic steps in producing a simple project.

..and here is the second video – it is long but shows the full basket weave stamping and border stamping.
The first basket weave shows Chan Geer’s method of getting the basketweave perfect every time!

If you want to see this method of doing basket weave in print, contact the Leather Crafters and Saddler’s Journal.   They can help you with back issues that the articles about basketweave was printed.


There will be one or two more after this fourth one….

Video number five shows the saddle stitch by hand, using two needles and an awl in hand.

Rope and other Easy Borders

This is an update of an old entry and I am going to try to get it at the top of the blog again.  I am adding the Video just made of this very simple effect.

Here is the detail instructions for doing the rope effect and other very simple and effective stamped borders.

Click on the image to see a larger version and then follow the instructions in the text.


First begin by scoring two parallel lines with a divider. #A

Now cut carefully on those lines with a swivel knife. #B You can optionally also bevel the inside of the lines with a smooth or a textured beveler, as you can see on the left of the #B part.

In all these border designs the lined stamp F910 is used. #C

Now stamp a row of these ‘triangles’ against one of the cut lines as you can see in #D (the bottom line was done first).

To do the second line, in the opposite direction, study the enlarged piece to see how the tool is now lined up: one side of the tool is first lined up with the cut line (as in the first row) and the other side of the tool is lined up with the impression against the opposite line so that there is a slight ridge between them.

To clarify further – in the enlargement there is one impression at the top and three running in the opposite direction against the bottom line – see how the one impression in the top line up with the middle of the three impressions at the bottom.

As I indicated earlier, you can optionally bevel the two parallel lines after you have cut them with the swivel knife and before you start the stamping.  Illustration #E was done without any beveling and illustration #F was done over beveled lines.

The border can be used very successfully around 90º corners.  I like to use the dividers again to score the lines I am going to use.  When I reach the corner, I let the inside leg stand still while the outer leg does the radius around the corner.

As you can see in illustration #G, the outside edge is stamped first and in the bend of the corner, I tilt the tool slightly forward so that it makes a smaller impression and so that it does not overstamp the edge.  Then when I work on the inside line in the other direction, I keep to the same spacing I did on a straight line:  every stamp corresponds to another on the outside line and is spaced so that there is a slight ridge between the two.

You will find that this causes the impressions to bunch up at the very corner so that all the sharp tips are almost on top of each other and this is OK!

Illustration #I shows the success of this border on curved lines.  Again the outside edges are stamped first up to the point where the lines may curve in the opposite direction.  There I stop with that side of the border and first do the other side, which will now become the outside edge of the curve as I proceed.

See more variations using the same F910 tool at the LEATHERLEARN WEBSITE.

Start a Four Strand in Two Colors

When you look at these postings, remember that it is a blog and the older postings is below and the latest is at the top.

This one, for example, builds on the previous posting where I showed the plain start of a four strand round braid with and without a core. Here I will show you two videos on starting the same four strand braid, but using two colors.

The first method will give you a spiral pattern around the braid:

and the second will give you a diamond pattern in the two colors:

Resist and Hi-Lite

At our guild meeting in February we had demos on two tone dying.

One method that works really well on pre-embassed belts, is the same block dyeing that the hippies did in the sixties!

It starts with a belt that was dyed with Pro Waterstain in the bordeaux color (let it dry well for a few hours):

Next a small sponge is used to apply a darker or lighter stain to cloth that is wound tight around a flat piece of wood.

This is wiped lightly across the embossed leather so that just the tops of the tooled designs catch the dye.

The result is really great.  But, like all dyes, it looks fairly dull untill a finish is applied; and here you can see the difference:

Here are more examples Larry did last year:

The other method we explored was resisting parts of a project.   This one started with a simple basket weave – you can use this on floral carving or any tooling you have.

Next you paint one row of the basket weave with super sheen and one row with a brown dye and let it dry well.  It will not look too defined at this point unless you are super anal and sit for hours with a very thin paint brush.

Then you follow the Mr Miyagi instructions for applying Chestnut Hi-Lite stain:  Wipe on – wipe off.

And the magic happens:

The other half of this piece of leather also got basketweaved, and the whole process was the same, except Tan Antique Gel was used in stead of Hi-Lite stain.

Close up:

I like the Hi-Lite more than the antique gel for this particular effect.

So one step further!  Add one more different line to the basket weaving – black dye.  So the four different rows you see here is: not treated / resisted with super sheen / dyed with timber brown dye / dyed with coal black dye.

And after applying the chestnut tan Hi-lite stain, the result is even better than I expected!

There is an older post on the leatherlearn blog about resisting as well:  just search for “resist”.

Strap Cutter

Here is a neat trick shown to me by Larry Moskiewicz.  The purpose is to make sure that the wooden strap cutter does not wander off too easily when you cut straps for horse tack or belts or any other strapping.

By gluing a 1/4″ wide strip of cardboard into the tool, the bar holding the blade is swung slightly, which gives the blade a very slight angle to the cutting direction so that it forces the leather strap being cut, against the guide handle.

I think the photos explain themselves well, but I will show you a close-up or two:

Here you can see the edge of the piece of card board – it is just about 1/16″ thick and 1/4″ wide.

From another angle you can see the piece of cardboard just about showing behind the bar holding the blade.

The next photo shows the same angle, but the bar holding the blade has been drawn back into the handle to expose the piece of cardboard.

This small modification makes one of the simplest tools to use, even more effective than it already is.

Braiding a Foundation Knot

I will expand on this posting later – just want to get the video out there quick.

If you are looking at this on Facebook, I do not think the videos shows up – so you will have to look at this post in the original blog:  

LeatherLearn Blog

Thanks to my friend Mark Sampson, my capcam works excelent so that you can see on the videos exactly what I see!

Come back often – I will have this instruction much more complete with all the do’s and dont’s of tying this knot.   Suggestions and feedback will be most welcome to j  at  johan-potgieter.com

Here is the basics:

Second part:

Please ask questions if anything is unclear!