If you’re a beginner and want to learn about strap cutters and draw gauges, the differences between them, how to use them, and a lot more useful tips, this is the post where I share everything about strap cutters and draw gauges.
So, what’s the difference between strap cutter and draw gauge? The main difference between a draw gauge and a strap cutter is that the draw gauge is metal and it’s suitable for cutting thicker straps of leather while the strap cutter is wooden and has an upper strapping thickness limit of around 8oz.
The draw gauge is a really awesome little leatherwork device, but are they really all they are cracked up to be? And how do they really compare to the strap cutter apart from material and its usage?
What’s a Draw Gauge?
A draw gauge is a handheld strap cutting tool you can use to cut out straps from heavier leather. You can use a draw gauge to cut over 11oz leather, tooling leather, heavy harness leather or skirting leather.
The draw gauge is a great option and investment for your crafts if you cut a lot of straps for belts, bracelets, and any type of strap you might need.
Using the draw gauge is a fast and more importantly one of the most accurate ways to cut straps. When used right, the draw gauge leaves a desirable beautiful clean edges on your straps.
The draw gauge will usually have some form of adjustment arm that you will slide in and out to adjust for the width of the strap you intend to cut. It will come with a thumb screw or wing-nut you can use to clamp down, fasten or loosen the blade and also making width adjustments for your straps.
One unique thing about the draw gauge is that you can get more use for the blades because you can move the blade up and down to get completely new blade edge to cut with.
Or if in any case you lose the blade on the draw gauge or you’re aren’t happy with the blade on your draw gauge, you can replace them. You can also clamp a regular sharp knife into the draw gauge if you’re unable to get replacement blades immediately.
On the smallest settings on the draw gauge, you would be able to cut laces for thonging.
The draw gauges are usually made of metal and because of that it’s usually more expensive. They are, however, more durable and worth the cash if you want a sturdier strapping tool. You will find that the draw gauge unlike the strap cutter will have a pistol grip making it more easier to use.
A very useful tip for draw gauges is to strop the blade before use to ensure you get the best of the best cuts.
To use the draw gauge, you must prepare the edge of the leather you’re to strap. The preparation is essentially getting a very straight edge on the leather. This is very important to the accuracy you’re going to get with you’re draw gauge.
This is because the straight edge you will have on your leather before you begin using your draw gauge will serve as a guide for the draw gauge.
How to Use a Draw Gauge
Pros and Cons For Using a Draw Gauge
- Best tool for cutting straps from heavier leather
- Has really strong sharp blades
- It’s more durable
- Offers a very comfortable grip with its pistol grip
- Comes with reusable blade you can sharpen
- Little maintenance required
- Blades lasts longer
- It’s generally a long lasting tool
- It’s mainly a right-handed tool and so if you’re left-handed you must learn to use it on the right hand
- The blades are exposed and so it can cut you if care is not taken.
- Generally more expensive
What’s a Strap Cutter?
The strap cutter is a hand held device used for cutting strap blanks such as belt blanks, guitar strap blanks, and all types of straps. The cutting mechanism for the strap cutter is a “pull”, meaning pulling the blade towards you to cut.
With a strap cutter also known as a wood strap cutter, you will be able to cut straps from any kind of leather, with width from 1/8inch of an inch all the way up to 3-4 inch straps.
The parts of the strap cutter is basically a cross bar wooden frame, a little split washer, with metal adjustment knobs or thumb screws you can use to offset the tension to allow thicker pieces of leather to run through the blade. Also, the strap cutter uses replaceable blades and they are very cheap to replace.
The strap cutter is a much much easy tool to master and whether left-handed or right-handed, it won’t really matter. All you will have to do is to always make sure the measurement readings are always facing you when cutting and that the cutting edge is also facing the measurement numbers.
Also, you need to always ensure that the markings and readings on the strap cutter are facing the right way so that you don’t put it together upside down.
You will find the strap cutter very useful for a lot of your projects. The tool in itself is a very simple but it’s a very efficient tool and could last you a lifetime.
Before you can effectively use a strap cutter you must first have a straight edge on your leather just like you would with a draw cutter. You can use a long straight ruler and a rotary cutter or utility knife to take out a long straight side of your leather so that you will be able to make your strap cuts easily and accurately.
The trick to getting a really long accurate consistent strap is to get a whole double shoulder or side leather and cut out your straight edge right in the middle of the double shoulder or whole side.
Make sure to press the handle of the strap cutter to the edge of the straight edge of the leather you’re strapping as you pull to cut.
You will notice a bowing out of the leather you’re strapping quite a bit after cutting out a couple of straps. The bowing out will be less obvious especially if you strike a straight edge right in the middle of the leather you’re strapping. You can as well always trim the bow out and continue to cut your straps.
How to Use a Strap Cutter
Pros and Cons to Using a Strap Cutter
- Very easy to use
- One of the best ways to cut straps from leather
- Blades are super sharp
- Cheap replacement blades
- Very safe to use because its blade is not exposed
- Lasts very long
- Awesome for beginners or general leather crafters
- No maintenance required
- Can mostly cut only up to 4 inch widths
- Can effectively cut up to 8oz leather anything above 8oz might require quite a bit of effort and the quality of cut will not be as good.
Differences Between Draw Gauge and Strap Cutter
There are a few factors I have outlined that you can use to compare the differences between a draw gauge and a strap cutter. These factors include their design, material, usage, safety, maintenance, cost, and who it’s most suitable for.
The design for the strap cutter and the draw gauge is totally different. The first noticeable difference is that the draw gauge has a pistol grip while the strap cutter doesn’t. This feature on the draw gauge makes it more easier to use.
Another obvious difference is that the strap cutter has a top wooden bar that guides and also helps to feed the leather smoothly through to the blade.
But on a draw gauge there isn’t anything like that and so in most cases, you will have to use your thumb as a guide to push the leather through when strapping.
The strap cutter is usually made from wood while draw gauge is made of high quality metals.
The draw gauge can be used to cut heavier leather while strap cutters are great for light to medium weight leather. As far as learning how to use both tools is concerned, the draw gauge has a bit of a learning curve to it and may result in you wasting some leather straps. It’s however, a great money making tool after you have mastered its use.
On average, you will find that the draw gauge to be more expensive when compared to the strap cutter. This is often due to the materials (metal and wood respectively) used.
I find the strap cutter a lot safer to use. It’s blade is well covered and it’s the least likely strap cutting tool to result in an accident. The draw gauge on the other hand has an exposed blade and a could easily cut you if extreme care is not taken.
Both the draw gauge and the strap cutter a really simple tools that do not need any serious tending. Of the two, the only part you can actually maintain is the blade of the draw gauge. The blades are reusable and so could be removed, sharpened, or stropped.
My Conclusion And How to Pick!
Draw Gauge vs Strap Cutter: Which Should You Get?
If you’re new to cutting straps and you want a much simpler, less expensive, and no maintenance strapping tool you can use mostly for belts and straps then the wood strap cutter will be an awesome choice.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional and you cut a lot of straps and a lot of belts and you want a much sturdier strapping tool, then the draw gauge is the way to go!