How to Cut Leather Like a Pro

Cutting leather can be a tricky business – but with our top tips, you can be sure to get professional-looking results every time.

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Working with leather is a skill that takes time and practice to perfect. If you’re new to working with leather, you may be wondering how to cut it without ruining the material. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to cut leather like a professional.

Borrowing a sharp knife from the kitchen is tempting, but don’t do it! Kitchen knives are designed for softer materials and will quickly become dull when used on leather. Instead, invest in a good quality sharpener and a few different types of blades specifically for cutting leather.

When cutting leather, always use a cutting mat to protect your surfaces. A self-healing mat is ideal, but any type of mat will do. Place the leather on the mat and then use a ruler or straight edge to guide your cuts. A rotary cutter will also make straight cuts easier, but be very careful not to cut yourself!

If you need to make curved cuts, use a sharp pair of scissors. Do not try to use a rotary cutter for curved cuts, as this will likely damage both the cutter and the leather. Curved cuts are best made in small increments to ensure accuracy.

When cutting multiple pieces of leather at once, be sure to stack them neatly and use tape or binder clips to keep them in place before cutting. This will help prevent the pieces from shifting and becoming uneven.

Now that you know how to cut leather like a pro, it’s time to get started on your next project!

The Right Tools

You can’t cut leather without the proper tools. A sharp knife is a must, as is a cutting board, and a strong, sturdy pair of scissors. You’ll also need a measuring tape and a pencil or pen to mark your cuts. Leather is a tough material, so you’ll need to be extra careful not to damage it. With the right tools, though, cutting leather is a relatively simple task.

Cutting Board

A cutting board is one of the most important tools in your leatherworking arsenal. It provides a stable, level surface on which to cut your leather, and it helps to protect your knives from dulling. There are a few different types of cutting boards available, so it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you.

Wooden cutting boards are the most popular type, and for good reason. Wood is a durable material that resists wear and tear. It’s also easy on your knives, which helps to keep them sharper for longer. However, wooden boards can be difficult to clean, so be sure to choose one that is treated with an anti-bacterial finish.

Plastic cutting boards are another option. They’re much easier to clean than wood, but they’re not as kind to your knives. Plastic boards can cause your blades to dull more quickly, so you’ll need to sharpen them more often. If you opt for a plastic board, be sure to choose one that is made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is less likely to warp or crack over time.

Glass cutting boards have some advantages and disadvantages. They’re easy to clean and they won’t damage your knives, but they’re also very prone to breaking. If you choose a glass board, be sure to get one that is tempered or reinforced in some way to reduce the risk of shattering.

Rotary Cutter

If you’re serious about leathercrafting, you need a rotary cutter. It looks like a miniature pizza cutter, but it’s much sharper and designed specifically for cutting leather. A rotary cutter will make clean, straight cuts without fraying or tearing the leather. It’s also much faster than using a knife, so if you’re doing a lot of cutting, it’s worth the investment.

Straight Edge

A good, straight edge is critical for making clean, precise cuts in leather. A sharp utility knife or box cutter can work in a pinch, but if you plan on doing any serious leatherworking, you’ll need a few specialized tools.

A rotary cutter is a circular blade that can be fitted with different size cutting wheels. The most common sizes are 28mm and 45mm, but there are also 60mm and 90mm blades available. Rotary cutters are great for cutting long, straight lines and can be used with a ruler or cutting guide to get perfectly even cuts.

A leather cutting board is another essential tool for precision cutting. Look for a board that is at least 18” x 24” in size so you have plenty of room to work. The surface should be smooth so the knives move easily and it should be firm enough that it doesn’t flex when you’re cutting. A self-healing cutting mat is a good option because it will protect your knives and prolong the life of your cutting board.

Last but not least, you’ll need a good quality leather punch set. This will allow you to make holes for lacing, snaps, or rivets without damaging the leather. A 2mm punch is a good all-purpose size, but you may also want to get a 1mm punch for very delicate work or a 4mm punch for thicker materials.

Marking Tools

One of the most important steps of any leather working project is getting your pattern transferred onto the leather. This allows you to cut out your project with precision and avoid any costly mistakes. But what’s the best way to do this? While there are a variety of ways to get your pattern onto leather, some methods are better than others. In this article, we’ll go over the different marking tools available and how to use them.

Chalk: Chalk is a great way to transfer a pattern onto leather. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require any special equipment. Simply lay your pattern on top of the leather and trace it with chalk. You can then remove the pattern and cut along the chalk lines.

Pencil: A pencil can also be used to transfer a pattern onto leather. However, it’s important to use a lead pencil so that the lines can be easily seen. Draw your lines lightly so that they can be erased if necessary.

Tracing Wheel: A tracing wheel is a specialized tool that’s used to transfer patterns onto leather (and other materials). It consists of a small wheel that’s mounted on a handle. To use it, simply roll the wheel over your paper pattern to transfer the design onto the leather.

Dye Sticks: Dye sticks are another great way to transfer patterns onto leather. They’re easy to use and produce clear, precise lines. To use them, simply draw your lines on top of the paper pattern and then press them onto the leather. The dye will leave behind a visible line that you can then follow when cutting out your project.

Preparing the Leather

Before you start cutting the leather, you need to prep it. This means getting it ready for the cutting process. You will need to mark the cutting lines on the leather. You can use a chalk pencil or a regular pencil for this. Once the lines are marked, you need to punch holes along the lines. This will help you get a cleaner cut.


Conditioning the leather is the process of making the hide more pliable and easier to work with. There are a number of ways that you can condition leather, but perhaps the simplest is to use a commercial leather conditioner. You can also make your own conditioning treatment by combining a few drops of olive oil with an equal amount of vinegar. Another popular method is to rub the leather down with beeswax.

Once you have conditioned the leather, it will be much easier to cut and shape. You will also find that it is more forgiving if you make a mistake.


Once you have your leather cut to size, it’s time to stretch it. This is an important step because it will ensure that your leather is taut and smooth when you start working with it.

There are a few different ways that you can stretch leather, but the most common method is to dampen the back of the leather with a sponge, then place the dampened side down on a flat surface. Next, use your hands to smooth out any wrinkles or bumps, then allow the leather to dry completely.


Marking is the first step in any cutting project. You need to have a clear understanding of where you want the cuts to be before you start cutting. The best way to do this is to mark the leather with a pen or pencil. You can also use a tracing wheel and transfer paper, but this is not always necessary.

Once you have your marks, it’s time to start cutting. There are a few different ways to cut leather, but the most common is with a rotary cutter. This type of cutter is similar to a pizza cutter and will give you clean, straight cuts.

If you don’t have a rotary cutter, you can use a sharp knife or scissors. Just be careful not to cut yourself! Leather is tough, but it’s also sharp when cut with a knife or scissors.

Once you have your cuts made, you can start preparing the leather for use. This process is called skiving, and it involves thinning out the edges of the leather so that they are less likely to fray or tear.

Skiving can be done by hand with a sharp knife, but it’s much easier to do with a skiving machine. These machines are specifically designed for skiving leather and will make the process go much faster.

Once your leather is skived, it’s ready to be used for whatever project you have in mind!

Cutting the Leather

The most important thing when cutting leather is having a very sharp knife. If your knife is not sharp, it will tear the leather instead of cutting it cleanly. It’s also important to have a cutting surface that you can clamp the leather down onto so it doesn’t move around while you’re cutting it. Let’s get started!

Straight Cuts

One of the most basic, yet essential, cuts you need to know is the straight cut. Whether you’re working with webbing, straps, or other materials, you’ll find yourself needing to make a lot of straight cuts.

Fortunately, this is a pretty simple task that only requires a few tools. For this type of cut, you’ll need a good pair of scissors and a cutting board (or something similar). You might also want to use a straight edge or ruler to help keep your cuts nice and straight.

Begin by placing your leather on the cutting board. If you’re using a straight edge or ruler, position it where you want your cut to be. Then, simply take your scissors and cut along the edge of the straight edge or ruler.

If you don’t have a straight edge or ruler handy, don’t worry! You can still make perfectly good straight cuts without one. Just be extra careful to keep your cuts as straight as possible by eyeballing them as you go. It might take a little practice, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

Curved Cuts

When you’re ready to make your curved cut, use a sharp knife or a rotary cutter and follow these steps:

1. Start by making a small slit in the leather where you want your cut to begin. This will help you get started in the right spot and prevent your knife from slipping.

2. Next, slowly and carefully start slicing through the leather following the line of your pattern. Keep your cuts clean and straight for best results.

3. Once you’ve made it all the way around, stop and take a look at your work. If everything looks good, you’re ready to move on! If not, no worries – just go back and make any necessary adjustments.

Now that you know how to make curved cuts in leather, put your new skills to the test and have fun creating something beautiful!


We hope this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to cut leather like a pro. With the right tools and a little patience, anyone can achieve professional results.

Remember to always test your cuts on scraps of leather before committing to a project, and happy crafting!