Friday, July 31, 2009

Setting Snaps Can Make You Cuss

Snap placement is one of those necessary chores many leather-crafters have come to dread. Bent posts, misaligned caps, squished parts - the list of ways a snap can go wrong is extensive.
I've received a few requests to do a tutorial video on snap-setting, so I did one with my methods for the two most-used snaps in leather-crafting, the heavy-duty Line 24 snaps and the lighter-duty Segma snaps.
At 3 1/2 minutes, the download was too big for the Blogger system, but I've posted it to YouTube. Here's the link -
Here is a summary of what it covers:
Part of the difficulty arises from the tools that many of us use.
The mallet-driven setters are economical but often not worth the savings, particularly when setting the Line 24 snaps.
If you set a lot of these snaps, or wish you could, I strongly recommend an investment in a snap-setting tool. There are a few on the market, but my favorite is the Pres-n-Snap.
Insanely, this tool is not available through the normal Leather-Crafting suppliers. You can, however, find it online if you do a search with the name spelled as above or through upholstery-tool outlets. Mine came with the parts for setting snaps and grommets for about $150.00. It works well with the Tandy Line 24 snaps and, in my opinion, was worth every penny.
For the Segma snaps, the drive-tools are adequate. They can be tricky nonetheless. My two main bits of advice are:
1) Focus your attention on the tool rather than the mallet, the project or your hand. Keeping this tool aligned vertically is critical.
2) Do not over-set the snap. Two or three firm strikes of the mallet should be sufficient. Over-setting will ruin the snap.
I hope this information is helpful!


Anonymous said...

it's odd that the two most common snap types have gone in different directions.

the segma type are so soft that they are too easy to overset and deform.

the new line 20 and 24 snaps have more brittle (hard) posts. as a consequence their length in relation to the leather is much more critical.

when it's required, i still shorten the posts with a saw or grinder but now i ream the inside to thin the walls and bell the mouth slightly to allow the steel to peen over easily.

your comment about keeping the setting tool perpindicular to the post is dead on.

one solid rap starts the snap, then one or two lighter taps will set most snaps just right.

aosLeather said...

The post issue is why I love my Pres-n-Snap tool. Curls the post beautifully with no need to trim or ream. But that's excellent advice for those using the drive setter!
And since we're noodging about the segma snaps, wouldn't it be nice if the setters were a few centimeters longer? They're knuckle-busters as is!

Anonymous said...

It may be the soft mallet that is the problem. I use a 32oz. brass hammer with the hand setting tool - one, or at most two, weak strikes is plenty. I haven't ruined a snap yet doing it this way.

Also, I hold the snap together by pressing down on it as I set it (using the same hand I'm holding the snap post-deforming tool with - the rod you strike with the hammer to set the snap).

Another option might be to use an arbor press - a cheap one ton press isn't much more than $50-$60, and it can be used for other things.

aosLeather said...

Thanks for this input. I've never used the brass hammer, having been "schooled" early on that you don't use metal hammers with your leather tools lest you damage them... seems i may need to re-explore this part of my education. Thanks for posting!

Art of Spirit LeatherWorks said...

A quick note to the person who wrote to me today via YouTube looking for help and info - I tried to respond with a lengthy note and helpful info, but your YouTube account has "contact lock" enabled and, since i am not a listed contact, my reply won't go through. but i tried.

Anonymous said...


This tool seems awesome! I've been reading that you can use it without pre-making holes, in fabric at least? Can you do that in leather? Where does the material that is removed when setting, say, an eyelet, go? Do you end up with little leather circles or what? Thank you!

Art of Spirit LeatherWorks said...

Though it's true you can use it without pre-punching holes in fabric, i don't recommend this for leather. It might work on thin leather, but you'd not get the accuracy of placement that you will if your holes are done ahead of snap-setting.
and yes, the removed leather would not vanish... in fact, fabric will move out of the way or "fold in" for you but leather might foul up the snap or grommet and further complicate the setting procedure.
As far as the tool itself, I still feel as fond of it as when i posted this article - a must-have if you set a lot of line 24 snaps, in my opinion ;-)

Cass Hunter said...

Is there a pres-n-snap that sets Line 20 snaps?

Art of Spirit LeatherWorks said...

Yes, Cass - Pres-n-snap makes a die-set for Line 20 snaps, sold separately. It can be found at most of the places where the tool is sold as well as on Ebay.