Published on October 14th, 2013 | by makesupply0
5 Tips For Cutting Curves in Leather
Cutting curves in leather is one of those techniques that really elevates your leathercraft skill set. It helps you move from the boring 2 rectangles stitched together into flowing organic shapes that set your designs apart from the crowd. However, cutting smooth curves is also one of the toughest things to do as a beginner. Here are 5 quick tips I followed that helped me along when practicing this skill.
Get your blade as sharp as possible, seriously!
This is often overlooked but extremely important. Cutting curves is already tough so don’t make it any worse by trying it with a dull blade. Replace your blade (if disposable) or give your blade a nice polish before attempting. The sharper your blade the easier it will glide through the leather and avoid a jagged edge. It is a night and day difference.
Using a coin or washer as a guide
The best way to get the feel for cutting a curve is having a solid reference to follow as a template. Standard coins and metal washers work excellent for this purpose. Line your curve reference up into the corner of your project and follow along the edge with your knife. Be mindful of the cut and watch your fingers. You want to get the feel for the action so in the future you can cut without the aid of a template.
Go slow and be mindful of your blade positioning
When cutting curves it is very easy to end up under-cutting or over-cutting your edge. Your hand will naturally want to lean in one direction and it is very important to keep it straight. So slow down, keep your eye on your blade and make sure it isn’t leaning one way or the other.
Guide with your body, not with your wrist
Your natural tendency with be to guide the blade with your wrist which can easily lead to bad things due to a very limited range of motion. A method that was suggested to me was to keep your elbow/arm in close to your body and pull the cutting motion with your shoulder. This helps keep you on track and more importantly the blade straight.
Make multiple light passes especially with thick leather
It’s hard to cut a clean curve in one shot in thinner leather, it’s damn near impossible in thick leather. Don’t be afraid to make multiple light passes with your blade to complete the cut. The more pressure you put on the blade the greater chance you have of messing up. Take your time and make as many passes as you need to complete the cut.
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