Leather strap cutting is a very common activity that every leather crafter will come against sooner or later. While many feel using the rotary cutter or utility knife can render those long strap cuts, there are dedicated tools that make the entire process easy, faster, and more accurately.
What is a Plough Gauge?
A plough gauge is a handheld tool that is used to cut strap blanks for bags, belts, and all sorts or straps you may need. What makes it unique is the push motion it uses to cut.
The blade of a plough gauge is in line with the handle and so allows you to make wider straps more easily than you would with a draw gauge. It also offers a more sturdy cut. This is a common advantage the plough gauge has over other strap cutters like the draw gauge and the wood strap cutter.
Although this is true to plough gauges, you must, however, ensure you have a very sharp blade on your knife to get the best out of your plough gauge. You can sharpen or strop the blade nicely before using it. The handle of the plough gauge on which the blade sits has a very solid build to give you the user supreme comfort when using it.
Most people out there may be used to the strap cutter or the draw gauge, but these two strapping tools have a 4 inch limit when it comes to the width size they can cut. The plough gauge has a superb feature of being able to cut above the 4 inches mark.
The plough gauge also comes with an inbuilt ruler or some kind of measurement readings on it so that no matter the width you’re strapping, you should be able to do it accurately.
Another peculiar thing you will notice on a plough gauge is a roller that help to keep some amount of pressure on top of the leather that’s being fed through the plough gauge.
One key thing to take note of when it comes to using the plough gauge just like the other strap cutters is that you need to ensure that you have a nice consistent straight edge already cut before applying your plough gauge.
The consistent straight edge can be cut either from the middle section of a double shoulder or a whole side leather. This will help you to make more accurate cuts and get longer straps with the plough gauge.
The plough gauge is particularly of European origin and influence. Popular European makers like Vergez-Blanchard, Dixon, and Mayer-Flamery are well known for making these tools. It’s interesting how the few listings of the plough gauge I come across appear to be more of antique products for what ever reason.
How to Use a Plough Gauge
Here’s a video on how to use the plough gauge for cutting your straps and belt planks.
Pros and Cons: The Plough Gauge
Here are a couple of things that makes the plough gauge super awesome and a few other things that are sort of a downside to it! Let’s begin with what’s good about them.
- The first advantage of the plough gauge is to me the fact that it can cut much wider widths for straps than the strap cutter or draw gauge can ever do.
- The next advantage is how easy it is to use although a highly recommended professional tool. When it comes to strapping, most people will start with a strap cutter, upgrade to a draw gauge, and possibly to the plough gauge. In terms of how easy it is to use them, the wood strap cutters are a lot easier to master.
- This brings us to the next point and that is the plough gauge is easy to use. The plough gauge the way it mechanically works allows you to use it flat on the table instead of off the table like you mostly would with a draw gauge and wood strap cutters.
- The plough gauge cuts like butter! The plough gauge can cut greater thicknesses of leather such as skirting leather. It also gives a much better edge.
- Mechanically, the plough gauge uses a push motion which offers a a lot of comfort when cutting thicker leather. You will be able to apply more pressure and effort on the knife if you have to more easily. Also, from talking to a lot of friends about the whole push and pull cutting motion, some people just find the push-to-cut motion much more easy and safer.
- It comes with a very easy width adjustment. The width is adjusted by a solid guide fence that’s just to the left side of the blade.
- The blade of the plough gauge is in line with your hand and so there is no increased torque the bigger or wider the strap gets.
- Unlike the draw gauge where you will have to use your hand to push down the leather, the plough gauge has a roller bar in front of the blade that keeps the leather from riding up the cutting edge.
- Easy to sharpen! Because the plough gauge uses a push motion, the only part of the blade that needs sharpening is the front edge and it can be sharpened just like you would for your regular knives.
- For price, it’s really expensive more than your regular wood strap cutters and draw gauges unless you’re able to find a good antique or win a bid on it from one of the several antique online sellers like eBay!
- Generally, the wood strap cutter will cut narrower than a plough gauge.
- There’s certainly a learning curve to the plough gauge just like the draw gauge. The plough gauge is an awesome tool that will help your craft a ton, but getting good results with a plough gauge basically is dependent on your acquired skills and so may take some figuring out and practice to get good at it.
What’s the Difference Between the Plough Gauge, Draw Gauge, and the Wood Strap Cutter?
There’s a clear difference between the plough gauge, the wood strap cutter, and the draw gauge. The main difference is that the plough gauge uses a push motion to cut while the draw gauge and the wood strap uses a pull-to-cut motion.
Another difference is that the wood strap cutter as the name implies is usually made largely from wood while the plough gauge and draw gauge are made from metal.
Also, the wood strap cutter has its blades well covered and so it’s a lot safer to use than the plough gauge than the draw gauge. The draw gauge and the plough gauges have their blades exposed.
What is a Saddlers Plough Gauge?
A plough gauge is referred to as a saddlers plough gauge because it’s a traditional tool used by saddlers to cut straps and strips from heavier leather.
It’s just like any other plough gauge you will come across but because saddles makes use of very thick leathers, using a plough gauge is absolutely applicable.