Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pencil punches

One of the best ideas I ever had--as far as tackmaking goes anyway!--was to use mechanical pencils as hole punches.
Over the past eight years, these two Staedtler drafting pencils have helped me to punch tens of thousands of holes.  
Alas, nothing is forever.  There are only so many times you can hit a plastic tube with a mallet before that tube disintegrates.  
Last week, I decided that the time had come to replace my pencil punches.  
The conversion from "pencil" to "pencil punch" is simple.  Just click out the lead, remove the eraser and begin punching.  
It's so nice to have three functional punches on my work desk again!  The 0.3 mm is wonderful for bridles and other fine strap goods, but I like to have the option to go a bit bigger  on high use straps such as saddle billets.
Staedtler pencils can be found in the drafting section of most craft or office supply stores.  Expect to pay about eight dollars a pencil--the two pack I just purchased was $15.99 at Office Depot.  That's a bit more than you'll pay for the mechanical pencils in the school supply aisle, but there really is no comparison.  I'm looking forward to many years of good service from my new Staedtlers!


  1. Do you have any tips for punching holes in leather straps, as I always seem to just miss the centre and make the hole just that bit close enough to the edge that it always breaks the strap. This is the punch set I have: I normally use the smallest punch (1/32) on straps. Thanks :)

  2. I did i bucked it up and purchased all 3 living where I do I have no office store in town so the internet is always my best choice so I got one ebay (ole faithful ) and found a slightly used set of 3 still in working order for a whoppin 12.00 and 1.00 for shipping coming out of California I should have them by the end of the week :O)

  3. Centering the holes can be tricky, especially on a very narrow strap where even the smallest deviation puts the hole perilously close to the edge. I usually mark my holes before punching. I do this by wetting the strap slightly and pressing the punch into the strap. I use just enough pressure to leave a mark. I then check to make sure the mark is exactly where I want it to be. If it's not, I rub out the first mark, re-wet the leather and try again. Once all the marks are in place, I start punching.

    If you still have trouble, you might want to spend a bit more time preparing your lace. I've found that if the backside of the lace is uneven, the punch is more likely to slide off center.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you so much for your advice! I think I just need to be a little more patient when I punch my holes and pay more attention to what I'm doing :)

  5. I love this idea of the pencils!!! I even found a 0.02mm pencil on ebay for the SM tack. Thanks so much for a perfect solution to a small hole problem!!! You have helped me so much with my tack making!!!
    Jo K

  6. What do you think is the best brand for this??

  7. Thank you so much for the pencil idea! It's made bridle making a lot easier and more enjoyable.

    Jennifer Bontrager

  8. I've been looking for ideas on how to punch holes in leather, and this is brilliant. I've been using needles/pins/awls and mallets, and my fingers are suffering for it. :D

  9. zikzik-

    wow wish I'd thought of that.

  10. OHHHHH!!!!!! I have been thinking of asking you about that. My gosh , it is so obvious... *headdesk

    Thank you so very very much for sharing this with us all. it is a fantastic idea and will help so much.

  11. What an ingenious idea...and not just for leather. I can think of a lot of projects that would be a handy tool for.

  12. Thank you so much for your fantastic tips! I have learnt SOOO much from your advice, being a complete beginner in tack making. An idea for the next tack tip...would it be possible to do a tutorial on the different ways to attach the reins to the bit? For example, buckles or hook studs?