Making Money with Trader's Leathers - Kenshi
Once you have a couple of characters and a bit of money stocked up you'll be able to pursue Crafting as an income source. At the start of the game you'll be too poor and weak to build your own base but you can purchase destroyed buildings in town and rebuild them for a modest sum. When you click on a destroyed building in a town you'll get some information about it in the bottom left corner of the screen.
You'll learn whether or not the building is for sale and if it's open to the public. Most buildings cost less than 10k Cats and can be refurbished with solely Building Materials, which you can almost always buy from a vendor in town. Once you purchase a building in town you'll want to build a Small Research Bench inside of it and place at least a dozen Books in the bench. You can buy Books from General Stores and Adventurer Merchants in almost every town.
Books are the reagent required to research new technology in Kenshi; when you place them inside the Research Bench they'll be consumed each time you pick new things to research. To see a list of what is available for Researching press 'T' to open the Research page and here you can scroll through the different categories to see what is available.
You should research the following things before continuing with the rest of this guide.
1. Small House
2. Tech Level 2
3. Indoor Lighting
4. Item Storage
5. Leather Armor Crafting
6. Basic Weapon Smithing
7. Gear Storage
8. Storage Boxes: Ore
9. Basic Weapon Grades
10. Storage Boxes: Crafting
11. Basic Weapon Grades 2
12. Basic Weapon Grades 3
13. Basic Weapon Grades 4
14. Tech Level 3
15. Basic Weapon Grades 5
Note: Not all of these are needed for Armour Smithing but I like doing both Weapon and Armour Smithing skill ups at the same time since they both use different materials.
In order to make money through Armour Smithing in Kenshi you're going to have to spend about 10 - 20,000 Cats raising your skills first. When you first start crafting almost everything you make will be Prototype quality and be worth virtually nothing. Armour Smithing isn't good money until you get your skill to about 50 at which point you can start making Standard quality armor.
When you start making Standard quality, depending on what you're making there will be a small profit. The armor I make is Trader's Leathers since it's the first recipe that becomes available to you and one of the easiest to make. It costs 3.1 Leather and .62 Fabric per craft which is about 450 Cats in Leather and 30 Cats in Fabric.
You won't start making Standard quality armor until you reach ~50 skill level in Armour Smithing. After this point it's all profit and your profit will keep going up as you make better stuff. Below is some of the math I did to show you the profit margin for Trader's Leathers and at which point they start becoming profitable. I have also included information about what skill level I was when I started making the next quality rank.
Trader's Leathers Material Cost: 3.1 Leather and .62 Fabric per
Total Cost of Materials: 500 Cats
Standard Sell Price: 745 Cats (245 Profit)
High Grade Sell Price: 1,639 Cats (1,139 Profit)
Specialist Sell Price: 2,890 Cats (2,390 Profit)
Masterwork Sell Price: 4,064 Cats (3,564 Profit)
Skill Level Req for Standard: 50
Skill Level Req for High: 65
Skill Level Req for Specialist: 80
Skill Level Req for Masterwork: 90+ for good crit chance