How to Build a Leather Shop

By Dan Antony ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Floor mats (optional)
  • Pegboard
  • Tool racks
  • Tackle or toolbox
  • Work table or drafting table
  • Shelving or table for hides
  • Window or vent fan
  • Class ABC fire extinguisher

A hobbyist leather worker (or even a professional) will require a dedicated space with tools handy and plenty of storage for hides and skins. Depending on the type of work you do, you may require table space, special ventilation, a sink and a “stitching pony” (which is a specialized work bench) with floor space around it. A 10-foot-by-10-foot corner in your cellar or workshop should be sufficient.

Choose an area with a cement floor, or lay down some disposable matting to protect the floor. This is important if you plan to work with dyes and solvents, less important if you’ll only be tooling and stitching.

Install a 4- by 4-foot section of pegboard. This is sufficient for your larger tools, which will include leather mallets, heavy shears, rotary punches and hand drills.

Make or purchase tool racks, with enough space for your stamps, bevelers, dental tools and shaping tools. These are usually wood or plastic, with holes drilled to place the tools with the heads up. This way you can find the tools you require easily.

Use a tackle box, or a well-segmented toolbox, to store your stitching and cutting tools. Mixing them among your larger tools and stamps will simply be confusing; keeping them in one place ensures they are handy.

Install a shelf or shelves, for your liquids, including dyes, lacquers, deglazers, oxalic and acid cleaners.

Build or buy a work table. An artist’s drafting table is ideal, because it sits high and enables you to sit comfortably for long periods of time while you work on a project.

Install a table, or some shelves, on which to store your hides and skins. Leather retailers use both. A table allows you to lay the hides flat without rolling them, which makes them easier to use. But make sure you have adequate floor space.

Install a vent fan or high-capacity window fan, of 150 cubic feet per minute or higher. This is necessary if you work with the alcohol dyes and the deglazers, which contain volatile organic compounds like benzene.

Buy a Class ABC fire extinguisher. This will put out any chemical fires involving the dyes and solvents you use, and any burning wood or leather, if they become involved.

Tip

If you plan to tan your hides, seek an open area (like a garage) with a large sink.

About the Author

Dan Antony began his career in the sciences (biotech and materials science) before moving on to business and technology, including a stint as the international marketing manager of an ERP provider. His writing experience includes books on project management, engineering and construction, and the "Internet of Things."