2020 April 19      Tools


Ever seen those cheap leather punches for sale online?  There must be a hundred different ones on there.

Today, we're going to find out why a cheap one may not be such a good deal.

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In This Article

The Basic Design

What's Good About It

What's Bad About It


The Basic Design

No matter if the price is $10, $20, or even $30, most of these have the same basic design.

It's a "double lever", which is supposed to make it easier to punch through thick leather.  And it does, at first, if your copy has sharp cutters on it.

You'll notice that the structural components-- handles, levers, etc.-- are made from stamped sheet metal.

What's Good About It

The actual cutters are sharp, if you get a good set.  At first, they will punch through leather easily. 

When new, they make much cleaner holes than an old, used one does.

It does have a couple of oval punches, which you may need for belts, bags, or purses.

The package includes a couple of replacement anvils and a sharpening tool;  it does seem like you get quite a lot for this low price.  And at first, the build quality seems fairly impressive.

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What's Bad About It

The online description said the smallest punch was 2.5 mm.  On my copy, the smallest one is more like 3.0 mm.  With leatherworking, the punch diameters are pretty important, so that's an issue. 

The tool is made of stamped sheet metal, as virtually all the cheap ones are.  Since they made it extra-large, I thought it might not be as much of a problem.

But then I noticed something...

This is after punching three or four holes.  It's happening because the whole thing is crooked.  Here's another view that shows what I mean.

If it were just the plastic handles, there wouldn't be metal galling.  That's a result of misaligned steel. 

When you squeeze the handles, some of that kinetic energy goes into making the whole thing flex.  This seems to get worse, the more you use it.  It's intrinsic to the way this is made.

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This leather punch looks nice, but it could start to bend out of alignment after a short time.  Then it won't work so well.

Many people who would buy this are looking for something they'll use once or twice a year.  Will it even last for that?  No idea;  this one started to have issues in less than one day.

If you want one you can actually use much, I would highly recommend a real professional-grade punch.  That one is also made in USA, as it should be.  The cutters are replaceable, and the frame won't buckle from ordinary use. 


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