Ross Saddlery

How to Carve Leather

by Ron Ross

A complete primer on the basics of floral carving in both Sheridan and traditional Southwest, or Porter, style.

Note: To allow for much better resolution and provide more detail, photos are large. Please be patient as they load.

There are many different ways to carve any given pattern. Each person develops their own style and uses tools in the order they find most comfortable, or in the order they were taught. In doing my work I use the stamping tools in the following order:

  1. Bevelers
  2. Leaf liner
  3. Flower center
  4. Backgrounder
  5. Camoflage tools
  6. Veiner
  7. Stops
  8. Mules foot
  1. The pattern - These patterns are used throughout the series to illustrate the various steps in the carving. They also serve to illustrate the way the same basic pattern looks in both traditional and Sheridan styles.
  2. Swivel cutting the design - You have to start with a good foundation.
  3. More swivel cutting
  4. Beveling - Beveling gives depth
  5. Camouflage - Adding roundness to leaves and stems.
  6. More camouflage - Differences between standard camouflage and Sheridan style.
  7. Using the veiner - Accenting with a veiner
  8. Pear shading - Adding more dimension
  9. Backgrounding - Making your carving stand out.
  10. Decorative cuts - The crowning touch!

These example plates show the progression of the carving, for both Sheridan and Southwest or Traditional style, starting with the basic tools and ending with some other styles of leaves and scrolls. In each step the tool impressions that would normally be there from the previous steps have been eliminated for instructional clarity.

  1. How to carve, the tools and swivel cutting
  2. Beveling & Camouflage
  3. Veiner & barker, pear shader
  4. Backgrounding , Finished carving, with decorative cuts
  5. More decorative cut examples
  6. Acanthus leaves and scrolls.

Getting that classic Sheridan Style finish.

These pages are copyright © Ron Ross, 2000. All rights reserved.
Permission granted to download and print these pages for personal and educational use only.


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