Many who have been creating fine leather goods for some time will attest to how rewarding a large or grand project may be. This could be a bag, a briefcase, or even a multi-gusset wallet.
However, unless you have the luxury of being a full time leather crafter, too many complex projects back to back can sometimes lead to a drop in enthusiasm and motivation. Especially if the same project keeps getting put off due to work and other commitments getting in the way.
It’s natural to enjoy seeing a project moving along at a reasonable pace, so the piece we are working on is constantly evolving and changing into what we had envisioned from the start.
Thee late C.G Mosely, a well respected leather craftsman in his time wrote:
‘Experience has shown that goods which for one reason or another have been delayed during manufacture are seldom equal to those which have passed through the various stages quickly.
A worker loses interest in an article which hangs about (it being quite natural to appreciate quick results) and the article suffers by being put aside or handled unnecessarily.’
So, how can we maintain our passion and interest in the craft? Much like success in any relationship, in order to keep the joy and enthusiasm we experienced at the beginning, it’s going to require variety, spontaneity and lots of small things done well.
Therefore, my recommendation to you is to include quick pace projects that can be completed in a day or a weekend.
This allows for a satisfying pace, where you will feel a sense of accomplishment much sooner. Now your enthusiasm will receive that much needed momentum.
However this is mainly true for projects that we do for ourselves purely for fun, rather than a customer's order or a friend's request. The focus is on fun, and getting to use the end product yourself (how selfish! 😉).
So what projects do I recommend? Let’s take a look at some unique possibilities:
(Are there any other small & simple projects you'd recommend? let me know in the comment section below!)
Kitchen knife slip. Recently I created a knife slip live on Instagram in less than 60 minutes. So for projects that take up hardly any of your time, yet will be practically used for many years to come, this is one of the best! View Free video HERE.
Sunglasses case. This can be completed in a day with experience, but practically offers more of a weekend project for beginners, especially if they want linings and embellishments.
Vegetable tanned leather belt. With a little practice, easily done in an afternoon, yet a nicely cut and burnished leather belt is a classic pairing with smart/casual or casual wear. Add a solid cast brass or stainless steel buckle to match your colour choice or outfit. If you use Chicago screws instead of stitching, you can even swap out the buckle!
Skiving Knife Sheath. Similar to the kitchen knife slip, the skiving knife leather protector is a great project to have for those who enjoy keeping a skiving knife sharp, yet hate getting cut from careless placement on their worktable! View Free video HERE.
Single watch case. A weekend project that has you creating something that’s perfect for travel where you want to keep your timepiece safe, secure and looking good. Throw these in your carry-on luggage and there’s no need to worry.
Today, watch collecting is a big deal, just take a look on Instagram or YouTube. Many enthusiasts will think nothing of wearing 3, 4 or more watches in a single day depending on the outfit, event, or mood.
So a small single watch case is an elegant way of keeping a spare on you, in your pocket, bag or car, should you wish to swap out your wrist candy on the fly.
Key wallet. A much more elegant way of carrying your keys, be it car or home. These are fantastic at preventing key damage to bag linings, or even pocket linings for that matter.
According to a well known repair brand, keys are the #1 reason for linings and pocket damage, yet no one seems to have figured that out. Makes sense when jagged serrated pieces of metal are coming in contact with soft skins or material.
Another weekend project, or 3-4 evenings for most beginners.
Card slip. We are fast becoming a cashless society, but cards are still here for some time to come.
Card slips typically take up less room than the run-of-the-mill minimalist cardholder, and they slip into a coat pocket so well that you may even forget it’s there!
Throw in a cheeky £50 for emergencies and you’re pretty much covered with 2 or 3 bank cards and a driver’s licence - true minimalism!
Make it stand out with a French binding and a lining, or finish with a turned edge. Then you’ll have something with more finesse that also allows cards to slip in more easily.
Leather strop. Ok, so this one isn’t exactly an everyday item, but likely something that you’re going to need to keep your cutting blades and skiving knives extremely sharp.
Take a piece of 3x1 planed timber (69x20mm planed), 20’’/51cm long. Shape one end like a handle for the first 5’’/13cm (or leave it blank..), then cover one side in front of the handle to the very end with vegetable tanned leather, grain side UP. Then apply a polishing compound designed for hard metals.
Flesh side up may polish your blade in less swipes, however, you’ll be rounding the edge faster, which means you’ll have to go back to your sharpening stone more often to re-profile the blade and set the correct angle again. So I always suggest polishing your blade against the grain side which is firmer and deforms less.
View Free video HERE. (requires email sign-up for full video).
So there we have it, some simple projects that go from a few hours to a full weekend! This is a great way to supplement those tricky larger projects so you can get in some quick wins and maintain your passion for the craft.
Obviously, this list could continue to hundreds or possibly thousands of small projects, the possibilities are quite literally endless!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on which fun and fast project is your favourite. Leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to share some of your small projects and ideas if you can think of any others!