Stitching: wheels versus pricking irons

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JVonDron on the subject…

Yes. The irons are only a guide, not a punch. After that, it’s exactly the same as Western sewing – Stab and stitch with awl and both needles in your hands at the same time.

Is it faster to pre-punch your holes? generally no. I can average about 2 stitches per minute, 20″ an hour at 6 spi, but have seen people sew up to 4 stitches per minute, It just takes lots of practice and coordination. Pre-punching is a lot of time hammering in and prying out. And while you’re busy with that, I’ll be halfway done sewing.

Is pre-punching better? almost across the board, no. The holes will be loose, uniformly too big or too small, and it’ll be unsightly or you’ll have to force the needles through and use an awl anyway to open the holes up again. With an awl, I can use the same tool to make a tiny hole in thinner leathers with skinny thread, or bury it to make a huge one on thick leathers with thick thread. Give it a twist and you can open it up to accommodate back stitching with ease. Vary your length as you’re nearing corners and whatnot from 6 spi to 5 or 7 so you can hit that corner with a single stitch dead on, and nobody without a ruler would know.

It takes practice and is a daunting skill to learn, but imho, stab and stitch is the only way to do it.

Or just get a machine, but that’s a whole other ballgame.

Try a stitch wheel to mark out your stitches and do all your stabbing with the awl. It’s loads faster, and they do curves so much easier.

There’s 2 main types, but they’re pretty much the same thing. An overstitch wheel is designed to run over the top of stitching to set it in place. They have rounded cutouts and slightly blunted points. A stitch spacer has sharper points and V cutouts like a star. I’d recommend the Osborne 485 as a good starter wheel, however it comes in only 3 different stitch lengths. Otherwise, keep your eyes out for older Gomph and Osbourne tools. It really is a case of “they don’t make ’em like they used to.”


Wynton adds:


You might be surprised how cheap you can get a full set of punches. is super cheap and by what I understand, they are the same tools as what is sold on goodsjapan.

I have been using them for a while and they have held up great.

To answer your question, I use 3mm spacing for watch straps and delicate wallets with .6mm tiger thread. I use 4-5mm spacing and .8mm Tiger Thread or .030 Maine Waxed Polycord with larger, chunkier wallets. Finally, I use 5-6mm spacing for briefcases and computer bags with .030 -.040 Maine Polycord.

I need to get a 2mm set for watch bands.

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