As leather workers we're always making sure our tools are clean, free of rust, buildup, cat hairs, dog hairs, coffee drops, hand oils and anything else that might find its way onto the tops where it make stains when we bevel. Our benches are clean, the granite we tool on is wiped down constantly, our blades are cleaner than a surgeons scalpel , and our leather is kept as clean as a whistle in storage and as we work it.
But there is one thing a lot of us forget or arent aware of when we first get going in leather work, and that is cleaning the back of our transfers. Whether you do all of your art by hand like I do with a pencil/pencils, or your printing it out on transfer paper the back of that transfer paper can cause a lot of issues you're not aware of. Graphite is part metal, and when it gets on the surface of wet leather it stays there, especially when you're tracing on top of your transfer you're actually PUSHING it into your leather. While you're cutting lines this will give you a squeak from your blade, you'll feel it more than hear it , it's like the grab on your finger as you rub it across wet glass. It can also make it feel like your blade is dragging when it really isn't, but that metal content is not being friendly to your blade edge and surface. Even if you have cleaned the back already, and your transfer has been sitting around the shop waiting for the project to hit the bench , where has it been sitting? Be sure to wipe it one more time right before you tool . I like to use windex mixed with rubbing alcohol. About 75/25 works pretty well.
When this happens not only will it give you squeak, blade drag, and start to dull your blade edge , but it will resist dye, oil, antique , and some top coats as well. Making your color and finish work a nightmare especially if you planned on using light colors or just oiling. I explain this in the short video below. Be good to your leather and try not to forget this important step.