Following last week’s look at basic bag making tools (found here), this week we’re looking at the more specialised tools for use with certain hardware. I would suggest buying these only as you need them, since you certainly won’t start out making bags with every kind of hardware going. I’m not going to cover leatherworking tools in this post, as that’s a whole new Pandora’s box of supplies!

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In the photo above we have the following:

A. Individual Hole Punches, Solid – these are designed to be used with a hammer or mallet to punch holes for things such as rivets, eyelets and grommets. At the smaller end of the hole size range the interchangeable option is certainly cheaper than buying a solid punch for each size of hole you might use, however as you get into the larger sizes you will find that they are available as sets fairly cheaply due to the crossover with a number of hobbies/industries – the tool roll set I have here was £10 or so on eBay (note that these are not in constant use, otherwise I would have spent more).
B. Individual Hole Punches, Interchangeable Tips – these are used in the same way as the solid punches, except that the punch part is a tip that screws into a handle. Be careful when buying these online that the sizes of punch match the sizes of things you are trying to thread into the holes, eg many sets from China come in mm measurements while the eyelets or rivets that you may pick up locally could be in fractions of an inch measurements.
C. Rotating Hole Punches – these are used especially where it might be more awkward to hammer in an individual punch. There is a limit to the reach, dictated by the distance between the punch and the hinge, but they’re particularly good on things like straps. Most rotating punches have a different sized punch at each point, so you get a small range of hole sizes. I paid a little more for a good punch (around £16) as I wanted to be able to use it on leather and for it to keep sharp for a while.
D. Awl – these are used for punching very fine holes, for clearing punch out waste from hole punches or for guiding fabric through the sewing machine.
E. Cutting Dies – these are used to cut holes of specific shapes, and are useful to cut out the holes for things such as twist locks, tongue locks or grommets. Sets are available online cheaply – again, if you are intending to go into mass production you probably want to spend a bit more.

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In the photo above we have the following:

F. Eyelet Setter & Anvil – these are used, as the name suggests, to set eyelets. The eyelet sits in the cup on the anvil with the centre sticking upwards through the fabric while the setter is hammered down on top of it to secure it in place. The anvil is sized to the eyelet it sets, so make sure you have a matching set!
G. Grommet Setter & Anvil – these are used in the same way as the eyelet setter.
H. Rivet Setter & Anvil – these are used to set single or double cap rivets. The decorative side of the rivet is inserted on the right side of the fabric, while the non decorative side (if using single sided rivets) is inserted from the other end. They will click together initially, then you need to place the decorative side in the curved anvil and hammer down with the curved end of the setter on the other side.
I. Kam Snap Setter – these are specifically used for setting plastic Kam Snaps. They come in 3 sizes, and the curved side of the snap is inserted in the plastic anvil on one side of the pliers, while the receiving part is placed on the other side and smooshed into place. The plastic anvil parts come in sizes to match the snaps, and the largest sized anvil can also be used with some of the shaped snaps.
J. Prym Setting Pliers – these can be used to set several types of hardware. Available individually or in a starter pack, they have cutting dies and setters which are inserted into the holes on either side of the pliers as needed. The starter pack option which I have allows me to set anorak or camping metal snaps and eyelets, and comes with a small supply of each type of hardware as well as a tool for hoiking the bits out for changeover and instructions for each type of use. The main downside to the pack is that the pliers are stored in a semi-closed position, so you have to be careful getting them out otherwise you end up chasing bits of snap and eyelets around the carpet, cursing. Not that I’ve ever done that you understand.
K. Mallets – these are used with dies to cut holes and with setting tools to hammer hardware into place.
L. Screwdrivers – these are useful for screw studs and for hardware which is attached by screw. I also use my largest flat-head screwdriver for folding down the prongs on things such as magnetic snaps.
M. Pliers – these are handy for removing bits that don’t go quite right. I’ll leave it at that…

I’m sure there are plenty of other tools out there on the market, but these are the ones in my arsenal.  If you have any other things that you feel I need to add, leave me a comment below :o)

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