Handmade or Not?

June 20, 2017

Handmade or Not?

Handmade leather goods is an over used term in our industry. Yes, we are guilty of it to a degree. What do you consider to be handmade? Should we pay more for handmade? Well we will discuss some of our opinions.

You can cut leather by hand or with the help of a machine, usually a press that uses a die to cut a specific shape out of the leather.  When cutting straps you can do it with a straight edge and a knife, a hand strap cutter, or a machine that can do multiple straps at once. The only advantage to hand cutting is you have no upfront costs. Cutting 100 of the same piece out by hand and have them be identical is unlikely, and also it is time consuming. When using a die to cut leather, you can click out 100 pieces exactly the same in much less time. You end up with identical pieces,  however there is a lot larger upfront cost. You have to purchase dies, and a press. But in the end you end up with a better product. For all our pieces we die cut, and we pass the labor savings down to the customer. The straps for our leather belts are cut on a machine strap cutter. Yes we had a larger up front cost, but we are able to offer a better product, and be more efficient using the machine. Sure you can cut 1 strap at a time by hand, but there is more room for error. With the machine it is much faster and less room for error giving a better product. Same for the tips on our belts, they are die cut. This makes it faster and gives a better product. All the holes are lined up correctly, much easier with a die than punching each individual hole. 

 

When it comes to edge finishing there are many ways to do it. You can edge with a hand edger, a power machine edger, or a manual machine. All 3 will give good results, hand is the slowest, power machine the quicker than a manual machine. We use a manual machine that will edge all 4 sides of the belt while a person manually pulls the strap through the machine. This machine does not narrow the with like some power machines do, and we feel it gives a better product, so we use it. When it comes to burnishing the edges, same thing you can do it by hand or with the aid of a machine. By hand you can do it with some canvas or they make wood burnishers and plastic burnishers. Both machine and hand will give you great results, if the person burnishing is a skilled craftsmen. Painting is done on some edges, not to hide the leather (at least with us), but purely aesthetic reasons.  They have machines that you can run the belt right through and done, or do it by hand. We actually do this by hand, we feel you get a much cleaner finished look with our belts. You will find painted edges on our black, dark brown, brown, and chestnut belts. 

 

Now the big one, stitching. We will not argue the point, a good saddle stitch is stronger than a machine lock stitch. Yes if a lock stitch breaks it can unravel the entire length, but if either stitch should break, they both still need to be prepared. We use machine stitching except on a few select items. If the stitch breaks in your wallet, the contents are not going to fall out and be lost for ever, the stitch is not on a life or death device. Honestly if it breaks it will most likely go back a few holes and stop until you cut it out. We can hand stitch and add an extra $30 (at least) per wallet for the time, or use a machine and get nearly the same results. We choose the machine and past the savings on to you, and we will repair any stitch that fails. 

 

At the end of the day the choice is yours, pay more because it says "handmade" or not. Kind of similar to paying more because of the logo stamped on the leather. Don't be fooled by the price of our products, we believe the quality is as good as big names that charge twice as much as we do. 

A couple of our dies we use to cut our belts. 





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