Cheap DIY Granite Slab and Making a Tooled Leather Coffee

I love coffee and leather, so why not combine the two? In this video I am going to try leather carving and tooling for the very first time. In order to be able to stamp and tool I need a good working surface. The best natural stone for that purpose is either marble or granite. I am going to show you where to find the cheapest piece of granite and then cut it into the dimensions according my own specifications. Then I will make a coffee sleeve, suitable for reusable Starbucks coffee cups. Cutting granite is also challenging since it is so hard and tough, but these properties are exactly why I chose granite over marble. I gave cutting a go with an all-purpose diamond blade on the angle grinder and the resulting granite slap turns out to be really helpful!

The free template for the Coffee Sleeve for Reusable Starbucks Cups can be found here:

Video transcript:

Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tony Needs Hobbies. My name is Tony and I have been trying to develop my leatherworking skills. What I’m currently working on is carving and tooling leather. It doesn’t look fantastic yet but it’s going in the right direction and cut me some slack, this is my very first attempt. What I noticed is that working on this tiny piece of granite is a bit of a hassle, so I went looking for a larger piece on the cheap, since natural stone can be very expensive. I will tell you where to look and how to turn it into a reasonably sized and usable slab so that I can turn this piece of leather into a tooled coffee sleeve. Have fun watching.

First some background on granite while I pick up my cheap piece. Granite is magmatic rock that is massive, hard, tough and dense. This makes it an ideal material for shock absorption underneath punching, stamping and cutting tools. But it’s also expensive. A tiny piece in the size that I currently own can be bought at Tandy for 20 US dollar, a piece twice that size goes for 35 dollars. I want a bigger piece without breaking the bank, so here’s where I looked to get this big chunk:

In recent history, granite has been used as kitchen tops, dresser tops, window sills and for memorials. It’s really easy to find window sills or discarded kitchen tops on the online market places. You might also want to try contacting memorial manufacturers for a waste piece. My piece was a dresser top that I found on the Dutch equivalent of Craigslist. It set me back 5 euro’s or 6 US dollars. It is way too big and heavy, 35 kilograms, so it has to be cut into a more usable size. That’s where the angle grinder comes in.

I’m going for 30 by 40 centimeters, or 12 by 16 inches, that I mark with a thick marker that will be easily visible during cutting. This material is very hard, but this 30 millimeters or 1 ¼ inch thick piece can be relatively easily cut using an all-purpose diamond cutting disc.

Do take care of your safety. You don’t want granite dust in your lungs, pieces in your eyes and grinding makes noise, so where your personal protective equipment.

Then switch the grinder on and try to cut as straight as possible making a back and forth motion to let the blade cut as efficiently as possible.

The side that has been cut will be very rough, so with some wet sandpaper of different grits I am going to clean it up and make it nice and smooth. I start with 40 grit, move up to 100 grit and finish with 240 grit. Don’t forget to round off the sharp edges. The result doesn’t need to be a shiny polished surface, but all the sharpness needs to be gone to prevent the granite scratching the leather.

And that’s all there is to it, now let’s see whether or not it is an improvement…

As you can see, it’s finished. Now let’s find out if this larger and heavier work surface improves the toolability and my capability of turning this into something nice.

What I’m making will be a coffee sleeve to fit reusable Starbucks cups to shield the heat and provide grip. I have a template available that you can download for free from my website, link in the description.

As you can see, tooling is not a problem on this big granite table. Although it is my first go at this craft, I think it doesn’t look too horrible. The design resembles the drawing pretty much and I had a good time emulating it. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. Meanwhile this leather, which was soaked in water to prepare for stamping, has to dry for 24 hours before the next step, edge finishing and butt stitching.

After tooling and drying it’s time to prepare the edges. I do this by simply beveling all the edges with the smallest edge beveler. Then I mark where the stitches have to go. I don’t punch the hole chisels all the way through because later I’m going to cut all the stitching holes individually at an angle, since this is going to be butt stitched.

Before cutting those holes I will finish the edge by slicking them it with gum trag and a piece of cotton before sealing it with beeswax and a slicker.

Alright. Now I have slicked the edges with gum trag and sealed them with beeswax. Now it’s time to try out another totally new skill to me, which is butt stitching, where you stitch the edges together without leaving a line of stitches at the back. Let’s see how that turns out.

I previously marked the locations for the holes, now let’s punch them using this diamond shaped awl. The goal is to do this at an angle so the awl comes out on the side at a depth roughly 2/3s of the thickness of the piece. It can be a bit tricky at first, but just give it a go and you will get the hang of it.

After cutting butt stitch it up using a regular saddle stitch, but instead going from front to back, go from side to side. Again, this is tricky, especially the first stitches, but as soon as the cylindrical shape is there it will get easier.

Normally I flatten stitch lines by hitting the piece with a small hammer. With something 3D shaped this is a bit more challenging. Luckily I could find this little shoemakers anvil online. I can put this last into the piece and then flatten the stitches without damaging the piece.

Now let’s take a good look at the result…

Now I tried two new skills for the very first time today: carving and tooling leather and butt stitching. But don’t forget that the main topic of this video was finding a cheap piece of granite and cutting it to size to be able to do all the other stuff. Now I hope this video was useful for you and that you enjoyed watching it. If you did, then let me know by hitting the like button and please also consider subscribing to the channel for more content like this in the future. And while you do that, I’m going to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. That’s it for now. I would like to thank you for watching. Bye, bye.

Ooh, and while you’re still here, there are two other videos right there and there that might be interesting for you too. So please check them out…

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.