I’m trying to stitch through Buffalo hide and it’s breaking every needle I have, even ones made for leather.

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oldwood

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Any thick leather, no matter how thick can be neatly sewed using a hand electric drill and a 1/16" drill bit to make stitching holes. Back in the 1970's I used to struggle trying to do things using the old 17th and 18th century ways. My projects were suffering because stitching awls just were inadequate for thick leather. Glue first with contact cement , then drilling the leather , fixed the problem. Hope this helps....................oldwood
 

DStovall

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Any thick leather, no matter how thick can be neatly sewed using a hand electric drill and a 1/16" drill bit to make stitching holes. Back in the 1970's I used to struggle trying to do things using the old 17th and 18th century ways. My projects were suffering because stitching awls just were inadequate for thick leather. Glue first with contact cement , then drilling the leather , fixed the problem. Hope this helps....................oldwood
I was thinking about trying that actually but Didn’t think about the cement first that’s a good call
 

Gunny5821

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Any thick leather, no matter how thick can be neatly sewed using a hand electric drill and a 1/16" drill bit to make stitching holes. Back in the 1970's I used to struggle trying to do things using the old 17th and 18th century ways. My projects were suffering because stitching awls just were inadequate for thick leather. Glue first with contact cement , then drilling the leather , fixed the problem. Hope this helps....................oldwood
You can also use a variable speed Dremel with the adjustable chuck, it's a lot less cumbersome and easy to maneuver. I used to use one years ago when hand stitching holsters before using heavy leather machines. Once you drill your holes, you can chase the holes with a diamond point awl.
 

Gunny5821

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How thick is your "super thick hide"? The size/diameter/length of a leather needle is determined by the thickness of the leather. Needles such as harness needles all have a dubbed or blunt point and are used with an awl to pre-punch the hole.
 

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Any tips or tricks for sewing super thick hide?
Usually if you are breaking needles, you stabbed the holes in two pieces of leather separately and the holes don't align, though sometimes you may just have needles and thread a bit too large for the stab holes you made.

Still, there are times when two pieces of leather are held together when stabbed and the needles and thread are the correct size, but the second needle occasionally sticks in some holes. You can use a pair of SMOOTH jaw pliers to pull the second needle straight through, but just don't grab the needle at 90 degrees from the line of the needle, as that makes it very easy to break the needle.

Finally, there is a tool you can make for the occasional difficult tight holes that is known in the trade as a "Fid." It is nothing more than a blunt ended finishing nail the same size as a needle or just a tiny bit larger in diameter. You cut off the nail head an set/glue the rear end in a handle. You round the point a bit so it can't cut the thread. You then stab this into the hole after the the thread comes through from one side, to enlarge and/or better align the holes in the leather, so the second needle goes through cleanly.

Gus
 

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BTW, as to smooth jawed pliers used to grab the needles, for me, the best ones to use are small "Lineman's" or Parallel Action Pliers. I found a small, but not tiny pair in the fishing section at Walmart many years ago and they work beautifully. The below video shows the type of pliers I'm referring to, but these are way too expensive for most hobbyist craftsmen. The less expensive Walmart ones work just as well.


Gus
 

.36Rooster

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Sewing leather is like trying to pound a wooden stake into rolled base course. You need a pilot... or in this case, an awl... i like a curved needle depending on what I'm stitching.
 

DStovall

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The electric drill has now been working for me this morning. The issue I had was the awl that I had with my leather sewing kit just wasn’t sharp enough for how thick it was, and the only way I could get through the hide was using pliers to punch a thin needle through as a pilot hole then following with a larger needle I could grab from the other side. After a bunch of passes the needles kept eventually bending and then breaking. But I’ve got a thick needle on the drill now just poppin through like nothin and following with smaller needle.
 

Gunny5821

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I use a blade awl for hand stitching, they need to be cleaned up and sharpened on an oil stone and you can get them razor sharp. They have an awl handle with a brass adjustable chuck on the end so you can change to different blades. With a sharp blade awl, you can stitch pretty fast once you get a rhythm down. Making a stitch every time you punch a hole makes for a cleaner stitch, rather than punching a series of holes and then stitching.
Blade,Awl,Stitching,2-3/4"
Awl Haft w/ Wooden Handle
 

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