In leatherworking, die cutting is the process of leather stamping and punching. This is used to press various shapes into the leather or to cut the surface of it. Most amateur and hobby leatherworkers use manual die cutting tools to do this, often either requiring a mallet for the force or a tool resembling pliers. There are a variety of tools for the variety of thicknesses and the proper tool should be used so as not to damage the leather.
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Leather hole punches are long pieces of metal with a sharp point on one end and a flat side on the other end. The sharp point is pressed against the leather and a large amount of force, generally from a mallet or hammer, is used to force the sharp end through the leather. When leather is being pierced or cut, a hole punch that has one sharp tip is used. When making a series of incisions, such as making holes for laces on moccasins, a leather punch with a number of smaller holes arranged in a row is used to make a more consistent line.
Spring punches resemble paper punches, but are made of significantly harder materials, with a steel bit that screws into the inside of the jaws to impress on the leather. Spring punches tend to be made from steel, often with rubber grips for comfort, and derive their name from the fact they are often spring loaded to increase the ease with which the leather is worked.
Rotary punches are similar to spring punches, except instead of having a single bit, there are a number of different bits on a rotating wheel on one of the jaws. If you wish to switch bits, you simply relax your grip and rotate the wheel, which is simpler than replacing the bit every time you wish to switch the pattern or hole size.
Punch tubes are shaped metal tubes that can be screwed into a spring or rotary punch, which when used will impress or cut a more defined shape from the leather. While some come in basic holes and squares, they also come in shapes such as letters and stars.
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