Leather craftworkers create a variety of leather goods
for different sectors. Products include fashion
accessories such as hand bags, belts, purses, pouches
and suitcases, together with shoes and sandals for the
clothing sector; some craftworkers specialise in leather
products for the equine sector, making and repairing
saddles, bridles and harnesses; some produce finishes
for books, boxes, chests and tableware; and some
concentrate on clothing and equipment for historical re-
Craftworkers use hand and machine tools to carry out work, including punches, cutting and paring knives, edge shaves, pricking frames and awls. Work can also involve computer-aided design (CAD) if developing patterns, particularly when making bespoke products.
Typical tasks include working from patterns to measure and cut leather sections; putting together sections by hand- or machine-stitching, or by using solvents; fitting linings, handles buckles and eyelets; and applying finishes such as stains, waxes and polishes.
Different materials and finishes are used to make products, including cowhides, nubuck, chamois, shagreen and suede.
Leather craftworkers work 37 to 40 hours a week.
Overtime may be required to meet deadlines.
Craftworkers work in small factories, workshops or from
Leatherwork involves sitting at a workbench for long periods. Strong smelling polishes, solvents and preservatives are used in the industry, so work areas are well ventilated and protective clothing may be necessary.
If working in a rural area, a driving licence will be required.
To be a leather craftworker you should:
There are about 5,500 leather craftworkers in the UK,
mostly working for small firms producing a variety of
leather goods. If working for a company, there may be
options to take on supervisory duties or specialise, for
instance, in pattern design work or sales and marketing.
Many skilled and experienced leather craftworkers set up as self-employed, often working from home or from their own workshops.
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