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Bruce Johnson 
Leather Tools LLC

Saddle Tools 

This page collects some of the more specific tools to western saddle making in one place. These tools are also shown on their respective pages by type of tool as well. Other tools such as hammers and pliers used in general leatherwork may not be here but are found on their dedicated pages. 

Tack Hammers

Tack hammers are designed to drive tacks and small nails. They have a longer face than traditional hammers to reach into tighter areas. The heel may be a straight cross peen to form and crease leather or a claw to pull tacks and nails. 

String Bleeders, Horn Trimmers, and Miscellaneous Cutting Tools

Miscellaneous cutting tools such as string bleeders and horn trimmers. String bleeders are used to cut slits for saddle string "bleed knots". Horn trimmers are used to to trim and profile the edges of saddle horns after they are sewn.

Lace Puller/Blunt Lacing Awl

These are collar type awls that have had the end blunted and cutting edges rounded over, then polished. They are useful for pulling lace ends through a braid without cutting a string. A good handy tool for pulling laces in saddle skirts, seat jockeys, and stirrup treads.

Rein Trimmers

Rein trimmers need a little explaining. Yes, they look like an overgrown common edger. They can be used for trimming excess linings from chrome tan to woolskins and edge beveling heavy leathers. They also can be turned so the cutting edge is vertical and used like a knife. Hold them with the bottom next to cut and they track straight. Turn them "toes-in" and they cut a smooth curve (think hand cut English points on straps for instance). The cutting edge is protected in the notch and they will not cut into underlying leather. There is a reason that every old time saddle and harness maker back in the day had one.

Saddler Pliers - have corrugated jaws and are used to stretch or pull leather. The "anvil" on the bottom of the jaws can be used to provide leverage. Cantle and horn pliers have smooth jaws and used to crimp together layers of leather for saddlery work, as well as being useful in some other crimping needs. 



These bouncer/smashers have nice smooth bottoms, solid handles, and no cracks. They are used primarily to mold and compress leather in the saddle making trade. 

CS Osborne #4 Scratch Awls - These durable scratch awls are multipurpose. They all can be used for marking leather and they can be used for enlarging punched round holes. The smaller sizes can be heated and the tip used to burn and bond thread ends on stitching. The larger sizes can be used as saddle spikes for drawing and tightening leather.  

Saddle String Tightener - Used to pull up and tighten your saddle strings for western saddle work. Pull the string through the slot, give a lap around to make a bind and twist to tighten. A saddle maker came up to me at the Sheridan, WY leather show and gave me this one based on his dad's old string tightener. He said to sell this first one and I could figure out how to make them off that. Here you go! if you need to tighten saddle strings I've got a handy tool for it.