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This leatherworking Newbie, neophyte, beginner...whatever you want to call me... has a couple of things I have found that make the effort easier, and a bit cheaper.

Granite blocks sold by Tandy for leather stamping for are very nice, but heavy and expen$ive, even when they go on sale.

I got a 12 X12 piece of granite floor tile, which is about 1/2 inch thick, to do my pounding on. I think I may glue some felt to the back, to make it less likely to mar finished surfaces, but it works just fine so far. Lowe's has them for about $6. A large ceramic tile might be another alternative. I got a discontinued 13 X 13 inch one for free.

Those large swabs Tandy $ells for applying dye are great, but really sloppy. I use extra large cotton Q tips. They give me more control in tight places, and carry a respectable amount of dye. Till now, I have used them exclusively for cold blue application. :)
 

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I use dish sponges for dye, they aren't as soft, so they don't let so much liquid out all at once, but can still hold enough that you aren't stopping to wet your dabber all the time.

We make fly tying tables out of corriene... and that is what I used as a base.... your granite is definitely cheaper than my corienne though ;D It's just something we had "lying aournd" If you really want a cheap one... make a wood box.... take out some concrete.... you know where I'm going with this.

Oh, and if you find an old used shoe horn somewhere... they are great for mallet forming, pressing out seams... whatever. Especially ones with a couple of good curves to use.

And also - aquaseal works GREAT with leather - because it bonds with most anything, and it stays flexible.

And a good sharp large handled awl will save your life....
 
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