Making Customized Guitar Straps

Posted on: May 18th, 2014 by Jamie @ Leathersmith Designs

Leather Hide For Making Customized Guitar Straps

First a premium piece of tooling cowhide must be chosen to avoid marks and nicks that could be visible in the finished leather craft project.  5 – 6 oz leather thickness works well for making customized guitar straps to give the required strength but also enough suppleness. We choose leather that has been properly prepared on the underneath side from the tannery so there will be no fuzzy pieces of leather coming off on your clothes when you are wearing the guitar strap. Leather hides are supplied in various thickness for different leather craft projects.

custom guitar strap on roll of cowhide

All our custom guitar straps are cut from quality premium tooling cowhide.

Stamp Design

After the leather guitar strap has been cut, we dampen it with water on the top surface only. A firm solid flat surface to work on such as a piece of marble or granite is used when making customized guitar straps. When stamping the guitar straps, we need a firm and solid surface so the stamp tool will not bounce when we hit it with the rawhide mallet. As we stamp the design down the guitar strap, the water will start to dry out so we will have to dampen it again with a wet sponge. If we want to stamp in a name, now is the time to do that as well. This is a labor intensive process since not only each stamp has to be lined up neatly but each stamp has to be hit with the same hardness so the design will all be the same depth. There are lots of leather craft stamps available to decorate your special leather project.

When making customized guitar straps, designs and lettering can be hand stamped into the damp leather.

When making customized guitar straps, designs and lettering can be hand stamped into the damp leather.

Dye Leather

After the water has dried from the leather, we are ready apply leather dye the top surface of the leather. Professional oil dye by the Fiebing Company is used for coloring our guitar straps. It penetrates deeply into the leather while allowing the natural grains of the leather to be seen. Although it is more expensive, we choose to use it so we will not have to worry about rub off like some poorer quality leather dyes.  However, Eco Flo dye also works well and is less expensive to ship since it is not flammable, it does not have to be shipped a special way and therefore is often less expensive to ship. We have a folded piece of flannel cloth nailed to a wooden block. The cloth makes a nice applicator to rub the dye into the leather. The wooden block allows us to hold the applicator easily. Protective gloves are worn so we won’t have to have our hands dyed for weeks. The dye is rubbed on the guitar strap being very careful not to get it into the stamped design. This is a tedious time consuming process when making customized guitar straps. Many applications are applied to get an even coverage and the desired darkness we want. Keep in mind that this leather dye is meant for natural undyed vegetable tanned leather and not meant for redying leather that has already been colored.

Guitar Strap Dyeing

The custom leather guitar strap is dyed by hand, being careful not to go into the imprint.

Border Design

Once the dye has dried, we can make a boarder design along the guitar strap with this groove tool. This adjustable groover tool is also used for making stitch grooves for doing sewing for other leather craft projects. There is a small set screw which allows us to adjust how far from the edge we want the groove to be. This groove tool is also a great leather craft tool to make channels for sewing other leather projects.

Guitar Strap Line

A boarder line adds a nice touch to our imprinted guitar straps.

Round Edges

Rather than have a square edge, we round the edge of the guitar strap with this beveller for a more finished look. There are different size bevellers for taking off a little from the edge to a lot. When making customized guitar straps, we even bevel the underneath side for a more comfortable feel on the shoulder. Although we bevel both the top and bottom side of our guitar straps, the bottom is a lot harder to do. Using proper leather craft tools makes the job a lot easier. Now that all the design work is in the leather, we dip the guitar strap into a vat of neatsfoot oil compound to keep the leather from drying out and to give it some more suppleness. After the neatsfoot oil is absorbed over a few hours, we touch it up a bit more with some neatsfoot oil on a brush to even out the color since the neatsfoot oil darkens the leather.

Guitar Strap Bevelling

The corner edges are rounded with a bevelling tool.

Dye Edges

The edges of the guitar straps are dyed with a different dye than the surface. We use Fiebing’s acrylic dye because it holds down all the edge fibers of the leather. Since it is a hard finish, we burnish the edges when dry with beeswax using a denim applicator. Now the surface is ready to have a couple coats of polish, letting each coat thoroughly dry before the next is applied. There are many polishes for leather that will work well. However, we choose Fiebing’s Resolene since it helps seal the dye as well as giving a brilliant quality finish to the leather. There is also other types of leather polish that give a nice finish on the leather. The leather polishes we supply are made for vegetable tanned leather.

Guitar Strap Edge Dyeing

Dyeing the edge of the guitar strap.

Slot Hole Punch For Making Customized Guitar Straps

We punch the slots for adjustment and the round holes for the guitar knobs using a heavy rawhide mallet and an oblong slot punch. So we will not get bounce when we punch the holes, we use a solid wooden tree stump as a work bench. These oblong leather hole punch tools are also used for the slot when using a buckle in a leather craft project.

Punching oblong holes for making customized guitar straps adjustable.

Punching oblong holes for making customized guitar straps adjustable.

Guitar Strap Finished

Now the customize guitar strap is finished and ready to be worn by a musician. This quality personalized leather guitar strap will last for many years and will become more supple with wear. You can see what has been involved in making customized guitar straps from the unfinished piece of leather to the finalized leather craft product. See more of our finished guitar straps on our web page custom leather guitar straps. If you do leather craft work and enjoy making customized guitar straps, check out our leather craft supplies pages for leather hides, leather tools, hole punches, leather craft stamps and leather dyes.

Guitar Strap Leather

Finished custom guitar strap on cowhide it was originally crafted from.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Making Leather Craft Products

23 Responses

  1. Aaron says:

    That looks awesome, I really like how it turned out

  2. Lorion Brewer says:

    I would LOVE to make one for my boyfriend, but not sure if I can!!
    Could you email me with some info, on making the strap for me
    and I could put rivets and other gold garnishment on it myself?
    That would be an AWESOME Christmas gift! !!

  3. Greywolf says:

    Great info, I have been sweating the details on one I have commissioned, now I know how to proceed, Thanks.

    • Glad the blog on our custom guitar straps was helpful. Best of luck in all your unique leather projects. After 40 years in the leather business, customers still challenge us with many unique projects of which some we take on and others we shy away from doing because of the complexity.

  4. Nicole Crawford says:

    Hi! I’m am researching steps to hopefully make one for a friend soon. Is there a pattern I can use to make sure I’m cutting the leather the right sizes and shapes? This strap is beautiful, hopefully mine will look like this

    • Thank you for your kind comment. We make guitar straps different widths and different lengths. The width of the guitar strap in the article is 2 3/4 inches wide. I would suggest getting your friend to hold the guitar where it is played and then have you take a tape measure and see how long it is from the knob at one end of the guitar to the knob at the other end running it over the shoulder the way a guitar strap would be worn.

  5. Tasha says:

    Would you be able to do an estimate for me or would you need details of the length style etc? I was wanting to give it as a present but do not know the length that would be needed.

  6. Liz says:

    Back in my hippie days, I did some work with leather, vests, belts etc. I want to restart as a hobby and have a few tools. I’m in London Canada with no walk-in shopping spots. My first effort will be a guitar strap for a friend, and I hope to etch a whale o n the strap. Are there any tools for free-hand etching?
    I find your video a wealth of information and nicely done. Congrats on that. Do you think there is any way of getting the tools I need and materials, without having to mortgage my home?
    Any advise would be appreciated.

  7. Faith says:

    In the first pic where you are dying the leather with the flannel, is the stamp impression sealed before the blue is put on? How do you get the dye not to bleed into the impression? Just wondering. Thanks for the tutorial it was very interesting!!! 🙂

    • The flannel cloth is folded several times and pulled tight over the wooden block when it is attached to the wooden block. If this applicator holds too much leather dye, I sometimes blot out the excess in a disposable tin pie plate. I lightly rub it over the raised surface and am careful to not push too hard that could cause the dye to go into the imprinted design. I apply a number of applications to get it even. I find I have more control if I go over it numerous times with a little dye than just a few times with a lot of dye. Some places around the design are tougher to get at so I touch it up in specific spots with just the corner of the applicator. I am glad you enjoyed the leather guitar strap article.

  8. Charley Zavisch says:

    Looking good like logo

  9. Ron Terry says:

    I am a guitarist And would love to learn how to make custom leather guitar straps and belts.Could you put me on the right path or at least give some advice so that i have a place to start? I would need to know what type tools I would need,etc.
    so if you get a minute drop me a line I would be ever so grateful

  10. This is another Leathersmith Designs leather tutorial on decorating leather tooling leather for tealight candle holders.


Leave a Reply

Sign up to our newsletter

Subscribe to our online newsletter to receive the latest updates on specials, sales, blog articles & new products!

Recent BLOGS

    Design by custom Bigcommerce designerCart Designers - Experts in ecommerce webdesign.