Friday, May 14, 2010

Harbor Freight leather tools review

Harbor Freight sells a set of leatherworking tools--an adjustable edge groover, an edge beveler, and an adjustable V gouge.

The edge beveler basically works, but the shape isn't as convenient as the Tandy version--The Tandy has a concave profile in the bottom that helps guide the beveler, especially handy for curves and if you have to make a second pass (which is common for me on curves).  The Harbor Freight basically guides on the corner it is shaving off. .  The beveler is the best of the set.   The Tandy is on the right in this picture.

The edge groover I got is defective--it looks like they skipped machining for the part that actually cuts the groove. (Not surprising for Harbor Freight--they essentially farm out quality control to their customers) The design looks like it would be a bit more convienient, able to adjust without tools. but if it doesn't actually cut, there is not much point.  The left tool is the Tandy groover, the right is the Harbor Freight as received. On the Tandy, the tip is cut even with the hole, so the hole acts as sort of a grater.  I ground the tip of the Harbor Freight tool to match the profile of the Tandy, and it mostly works, although the bigger hole leaves a wider groove. That might be handy for the groove on the back, to account for stitching holes not going perfectly straight. I also discovered that the handle is loose on the tool, coming unscrewed under use.  I unscrewed it completely, applied glue and put it back together.  If that doesn't work, I'll drill and pin it in place.  (or just throw it away...)

I've never used a V gouge, and I don't really have a need for one. I was eventually able to make  a gouge, but it is very difficult to control. It feels like the tool needs to be sharpened to work well, and needs too much pressure to make guiding it easy.   However, it is entirely possible I don't know what I'm doing, and am using this tool completely wrong.   There were no instructions for any of these tools.

Although the quality of the Tandy tools is functional rather than  outstanding, it is far, far better than the Harbor Freight equivalents.


  1. wish i would of read this befor i bought them lol

  2. Anonymous7:10 PM

    I wish I too had read this review before buying from HF. Everything you say is right on the money. I had major issues with the stitch groover until I finally figured out that the cutter is not ground properly at all.

    OTH, the $10 Tandy wants for the tip is a rip off. I am not a pro and I can't pass on the cost of Tandy's exorbitant price to anyone else but myself! I guess I will fashion a small gouge and live with it.