Leatherworker Dirk Dillon, the man behind Useful Leather Company, spoke to us recently about the origins of his shop and where he plans to take it next. Dillon took steps to make his leather knife accessories more widely available, and plans to work on new projects addressing other needs in the knife community.
Dillon, a lifelong knife enthusiast, originally worked under the name Triple D Leather. He changed the name to Useful Leather Co. after seeing a piece of furniture that could be switched between a shelf and a bench-like seat. A friend of his had brought it back from missionary work in China and said that its Chinese name meant something like “useful table.” The straightforward nature of that name appealed to Dillon. “All of my stuff is no frills, with little decorative work or tooling,” he says. But he also points out that this utility-first approach doesn’t mean his work isn’t pretty. “Simplicity is its own style and the name Useful Leather Company embodies that.”
Bags, wallets, portfolio covers, and more are all part of Dillon’s repertoire, but he says the needs of knife nerds provide most of his business. “90% of my work is in the knife world, and my slips really connected with the slipjoint community.” If you’re slippie guy, that won’t surprise you to hear: clipless traditional knives are a hot commodity, and the leather pocket slip the favored accessory for anyone who doesn’t want to carry them loose in the pocket. Dillon’s slips, available in three different sizes, keep the knife handy but protects the covers from unnecessary scratches, dings, and other pocket-based trauma. And for the first time, they’re being sold by a dealer, at the same prices you would get directly from Dillon himself but without the wait time a custom order entails.
Making his knife slips more available is the first step in what Dillon hopes will be a transition to full-time leatherworking, freeing up his books for custom orders, like made-to-spec sheaths for custom fixed blades. The sheath may not be the first thing that draws us to a knife, but, if it’s bad, it can easily be the thing that drives us away. Even if it’s not bad, it may have little issues that annoy us (Dillon says the most common one is that belt sheaths often ride too high), or simply lack the beauty that we see in the knife itself. After all, leatherworking is an entirely different discipline than knife making, and, “For custom makers, sheaths may not be where their passion is at,” Dillon points out. That’s where he comes in, crafting a sheath with the same care and specificity that a knife maker puts into the blade.
He also plans to revitalize a long-overlooked knife accessory: the knife roll. This is an accessory you don’t often see enthusiasts getting excited about buying, but Dillon hopes to change that. “I’ve never liked the stuff that’s out there. I want to breathe a little life into the genre, make something more modern-looking and functional,” he explains. We also asked if he had any plans to make knives of his own, and he told us it’s a possibility even if nothing is definite at this point. “I’ve made a knife or two in the past. It’s not something I’m ruling out but my shop is completely and totally for leatherworking.”
Useful Leather Company traditional slips are available now. If you want to place an order for a custom piece, Dillon says that an order usually takes about two weeks to fill once he has the knife in hand.
Featured Image: Useful Leather Company Knife Slips