So, I gave him some advice from my leather hole punching experience. I told him that I put a scrap piece of leather between my pounding board and the leather that I am punching. I wax my tines every other punch and I punch before applying the finish so that there is no ugly cracking. Also, an application of Neatsfoot Oil (Not the Compound) after the dye/stain application has dried will give the leather a softer feel but not to overdo it because the Neatsfoot Oil will darken the leather.
After I finish stitching, I use my Osborne leather working hammer, which has a slightly rounded head to prevent marring the leather, and *gently* tap the stitches on both sides of the project to set them in and smooth out the leather that may have bumps when the stitches were tightened.
He said that he followed my suggestions and they worked out great. He was very thankful and I told him that I am always happy to help.
Until next time, All the best.
Frank, the KC Leather Guy