Leather Crafting Posts

Homemade DIY Leather Keychains

Posted on: October 29th, 2019 by Quentin Burns

Homemade Leather Key Tags

This leather craft tutorial will teach you how to handmake etched and stamped DIY leather keychains like the ones below. Key tags are a good project for people just starting leather work: they’re small, they aren’t expensive, they don’t take long, and they don’t require too many supplies. Best of all it is easy to learn how to make keychains with the many ideas demonstrated.

Finished stamped leather key tags.

I’ll take you through my process of making the etched cat key tag on the left and the stamped green key tag on the right.

Supplies Needed For DIY Leather Keychains

For this DIY Leather Keychain project you will need:

– A leather key fob piece. We sell key tag kits which include precut keychain blanks together with rivets and split metal key rings. If you’re making this project with kids or as a group activity, I recommend that option, because cutting the leather will be the most difficult step for a beginner.

If you’re cutting the tag shape yourself, you’ll need a piece of vegetable tanned leather. We use 7 oz tooling leather for our key tags, which means the leather is 7/64” thick. Anything from 6 to 9 oz vegetable tanned leather will work, depending on how firm you want your leather key fob.

I also recommend having some scrap leather or a few extra key tags on hand to practice your tooling techniques. You might be able to save money on leather by buying scrap pieces from a local leather shop or craft shop. We currently sell our scrap leather to local customers by the grocery store size bag for a small amount of money. The pieces are too small for belts and guitar straps, but plenty big enough for key tags and other small projects.

– A sharp utility knife to cut out the tag. Make sure you have a fresh blade, as this will make getting a smooth cut much easier.

– A round drive punch or other punching tool to make holes for the rivets. For more info on how to punch holes in leather, see our blog post on how to punch holes in leather.

– One medium rapid rivet or one medium double cap rivet.

– One split key ring.

– Supplies to decorate and finish the key ring. This might include stamping tools, etching tools, leather dye, acrylic resolene polish, edge kote and / or leather paints.

I’m going to cover a lot of options for key tag decorating. You can pick and choose based on your preferences and what supplies you have available. For example, I’ll include instructions for dyeing and polishing your tag, but you can also choose to leave it the natural leather color.

Cutting Your Leather Key Tag

If you aren’t starting with a key tag kit, you’ll need to draw a pattern for your tag shape. You can draw the pattern directly onto the leather in pencil, or cut a template out of paper or card stock and trace it onto the leather.

The easiest leather key tag to cut is a simple rectangular strip, like the tags below, which are 5” by 5/8”.

Two leather rectangular numbered key tags for cars.

We made these simple rectangular numbered key tags from leather for vehicle registry numbers and hotel room numbers.

Any shape can become a key tag, as long as it has a tail for securing the key ring. Below you can see our standard key tag shapes. Our standard round tags are 2″ in diameter, and our standard rectangular tags are 2 1/2″ by 1 1/2″. On all our tags, we space the rivet holes 1 5/8” apart.

If you’re confident cutting leather, you can get more creative with various shapes of your DIY leather keychains. The most intricate custom key tag I’ve made for a customer was in the shape of an acoustic guitar.

Three blank keychains cut from leather.

Our standard blank keychain leather shapes, with rings and rapid rivets.

Cut any straight edges first before tackling the corners. When cutting straight edges, I find it easiest to make two passes with my knife. I line up my ruler and drag my utility knife against it, just firmly enough to score the leather. Then I remove the ruler and follow over my first cut, this time applying enough pressure to slice all the way through. Make sure to hold your blade perpendicular to the table when you cut. It’s best to have a nylon or rubber cutting pad under the leather.

Cutting on a curve takes some practice. For tight curves, I find it easiest to carve off pieces in a series of tiny cuts until the corner is smooth.

Once your key fob is cut, you can punch the holes for the rivets using a 1/8” drive punch.

Tooling The Leather Key Fob

Now that your blank tag pieces are ready, you can start customizing them.

Creating Stamped Designs:

Wet the surface of your key tag with water on a damp sponge, and line up your leather stamp. Give the stamp a light tap with your mallet, just firmly enough to make a slight imprint on the leather. Then lift the stamp to check that your design is placed correctly and deep enough. If the placement looks good, dampen the leather once more and stamp again to make the impression deeper. It should slide back into the groove you’ve made for it.

Give the stamp a stronger tap and check the result again. If part of the impression is too shallow, you can tilt the stamp to focus the force of the mallet onto just one side or corner. Continue tapping and checking the impression until it is uniform and as deep as you want it to be.

Progress photos for stamping a DIY leather keychains.

Test your stamp placement by making a light impression. Then replace the stamp and hammer more firmly to deepen the impression on your DIY leather keychains.

If, after your first tap, you find the image appears slightly crooked or off-center, you should be able to adjust it somewhat. When you replace the stamp, twist it into the correct position and hold it there firmly when you tap it again.

You can get as simple or as elaborate as you like with your stamped designs. I could leave the tag as is, with just an initial in it, but I decided to add floral design just to show you some more options. You could also use smaller stamps to add a decorative border to your tag.

Close up of stamped design on a leather key tag.

I used a leaf stamp and a rose stamp to create this design.

Creating Etched Designs:

Another option for creating impressions on your tag is to etch them. Etching is a good option if you don’t have any stamping tools, or you can’t find one for the specific design you want. All you need is a ball point stylus, a pencil, and a piece of paper.

First, draw or print the design you want to transfer to your leather. Remember that the tip of your stylus is wider than the point of your pencil, so you don’t want to use a design with fine lines close together or the detail will get lost. For this tag you can see that instead of drawing a whole cat, I’ve used a few lines to give an impression of a cat, which will make the design much clearer when etched.

To transfer your design, dampen the leather with a wet sponge and lay the paper on top of it. Trace over your lines with the pencil. When you lift the paper, you will have an image on your leather.

Wet the leather again and retrace the image, this time with your ball point stylus. You’ll need to press down firmly and keep a steady hand.

Progress pictures of etching a key tag.

Left: my inital image transfer. Right: my final etched design.

Since the wet leather is malleable, it is somewhat forgiving of mistakes. For this tag I decided the cat would look better without eyes as if the cat is looking away, so when the leather was still wet I used a tool to smooth over that area where I marked the eyes and flatten it out again. You can also use your fingers to smooth wet leather.

Once you’re finished tooling or etching your homemade keychains, wait for them to dry completely before doing anything else with them. You can lightly blow them dry with a hair dryer to speed things up.

Dyeing Your DIY Leather Key Tags

On my stamped key tag, I wanted to dye the body of the tag while leaving the stamped impressions undyed. To do this I applied dye to a folded cotton cloth and wiped it lightly over the surface of the tag. Then I used a Q-Tip to clean up any areas that needed more dye.

If you push down too hard with the rag or Q-Tip, or if they are overly sodden, dye will seep into the impressions. I recommending practicing your dye application technique on a stamped scrap leather piece first.

Dyeing a leather key tag.

I applied leather dye with a folded cotton cloth and a Q-Tip.

If you want the entire tag dyed one color, impressions and all, you can instead apply the dye with a wool dauber or a piece of sheepskin.

After the tag was dyed, I applied neatsfoot oil which is a leather conditioner, with another cotton rag. This deepens and evens out the color.

For my etched tag, I decided to darken the tag only with neatsfoot oil. I applied the oil with a cotton rag, just as above. You don’t have to be nearly as precise with the neatsfoot oil as you do with the dye.

When the tags are dry, if the color is uneven you can use another cloth or a Q-Tip to add more leather dye or oil where needed.

Polishing Your Homemade Keychains

To polish the key tags using acrylic resolene polish, apply the polish to a folded cloth and wipe it lightly across the tag. If you press down too hard, polish may flood the stamped impression; and if you’re unlucky it may carry some of the color of the dye with it. If you get polish in the impression, use a Q-Tip to dab it out. If there is any discoloration from transfered dye, you can use a tool with a fine point to scrape the inside of the leather impression. We use a dentist tool for this.

Two key tags with freshly applied resolene polish.

I brushed on a light coat of leather polish with a cotton cloth.

Wait for the polish to dry completely before adding a second coat if you want the leather glossier – about 10 minutes. You can also choose to leave your tag unpolished, for a more rustic look.

Painting Your Cool Keychain

If you’re going to paint your homemade key tags, make sure you find a paint made specifically for leather. Leather paints dry rubbery, so they can bend and flex without flaking off the way an ordinary acrylic paint would. For this project I used edge kote, an acrylic leather dye, to dye the edges of my tags and also to paint the cat design on the etched tag.

To paint the tag edges, I used a sponge brush. This is the quickest way to get an even line and coat the whole edge of the tag. I waited for the paint to dry, and then burnished the edges by rubbing beeswax on them with a cloth.

Dyeing the edges of key tags with acrylic dye.

I used a sponge brush to quickly edge dye my key tags.

To paint the etched impression, I used a ball point stylus. You can use the same one you used to create the etching. You can also use a paintbrush, but I find the stylus gives me more control.

Painting an etched key tag.

I used a ball point stylus to paint my etched key tag.

You may need to apply two coats of paint, especially if you’ve dyed your tag a dark color and want to paint a lighter color on top of it.

Riveting the Split Rings on your DIY Leather Key Fobs

There are two ways to secure your rivets. On the stamped tag, I used a rivet setting tool to maintain the domed shape of the rivet. Hold the setting tool perpendicular to your anvil, and hammer directly downwards onto it. I usually give it two or three firm blows with the hammer.

If you don’t care about preserving the domed shape, you can also set rivets using just a hammer. Hammer straight downward onto the rivet.

Two methods of securing rivets in your DIY leather keychains.

Left Photo: I used a setting tool to maintain the rounded rivet shape. Right: Photo I used a carpenter’s hammer to flatten the rivet in the DIY leather keychains.

The Finished Custom Key Fob

Here are my finished key tags, with an assortment of other personalized key rings from around the shop. You can get as simple or as complicated as you want with these DIY leather keychains, from a basic initial to a miniature work of art.

Various finished homemade DIY leather keychains.

An assortment of finished DIY leather keychains.

If you make key tags using this tutorial, we would love for you to send us pictures to share on facebook!


Leather Hole Punch For Belts & Leatherwork

Posted on: January 28th, 2019 by Quentin Burns

Which Type of Leather Hole Punch?

This post covers the best methods for making holes for belts and other leatherwork projects, using several different types of leather hole punch tools. It will teach you how to use the drive punch, rotary hole punch, oblong hole punch, and four hole punch. The post will also help you choose which leather handtool or leather punch set is the best fit for your leather crafting needs. At the end of the post is a video where you can watch how to make a hole in leather with each different type of leather hole punch.

Round Hole Drive Punch

The drive punch is the most basic, strongest, and most universal type of leather hole punch. They come in a range of sizes. We use our small 3/32 inch leather punch to make holes for small rivets and small jacket snaps, our 1/8 inch drive punch tool to make holes for medium and large rivets, and our 5/32 inch hole punch for large jacket snaps. These sizes can be used for some buckle holes as well, but often the larger hole punch sizes are better for buckles with thicker pins. For this, you will need to choose a punch based on the circumference of your buckle tongue. To make holes for grommets and eyelets, you will need to choose a punch size based on the interior circumference of the eyelet or grommet.

crafttool round drive punch for leather

Round drive punches are available in many hole diameters.

You can also find adjustable leather punch sets. These consist of a body that can be fitted with different sizes of removable hole tube tips. Our mini punch set includes six smaller tips, and the maxi punch set has six larger tips. These are a good option if you aren’t sure what size you’ll need, or if you need to punch multiple sizes of holes. They are a good economical choice if you won’t be punching a lot of holes, since you won’t have to spend money on many different individual drive punch tools. The disadvantage of this type of punch is that swapping out the ends takes up time.

Mini leather hole punch kit with a variety of hole sizes.

Mini punch set with interchangeable tips and wrench.

How To Use A Drive Punch

To use a drive punch, first start with a sturdy surface that won’t bounce when you’re punching holes. We use a solid tree stump. On top of the stump we lay a piece of scrap leather, so that the sharp point on the drive tool won’t get dull from punching directly onto wood. This also prevents the punch from chewing up the wood and ruining your cutting surface. If you don’t have scrap leather available, you can use a poly cutting board.

Use a pencil or scratch awl to mark the leather where you need the hole punched. On darker colored leather it is easier to see a point mark by the awl than a pencil mark. Then set the piece on your cutting surface and line up your punch. The hole punch should be completely perpendicular to the leather. Hold it securely in this position, and hammer straight downwards. Depending on the thickness of the leather, the punch should cut through cleanly with one or two solid blows.

Using a drive punch tool to make holes in leather on top of a tree stump with a scrap leather underlay.

We punch holes on top of a tree stump, with a scrap leather pad to protect the drive punch tool.

The hammer shown in this photo is a large poly head mallet; a heavy rawhide mallet is also a good option. Both materials will absorb bounce, and the softer surface will protect your tools over time and extend their life.

A traditional carpenter’s hammer can be used as well.  The disadvantage of a metal hammer is that over time it will start to mushroom the end of your hole punch tools, since you are banging metal against metal.

Making Buckle Slots With An Oblong Leather Punch

crafttool oblong punch for belt buckle tongues

Oblong hole punch, used for the pin hole on belt buckles.

Use the same process to punch an oblong shaped hole for a belt buckle. It may take a bit more hammering than the smaller drive punch. You can tilt the leather oblong punch slightly, if needed, to focus the force of the hammer onto a stubborn spot.

If you can’t afford an oblong hole punch when first starting leather craft, you can get around that problem with your round hole punches. Punch two round holes an inch apart, then use a utility knife to make two parallel cuts to join the round holes together.  You could also use a wood chisel to make the straight cuts. However once you have the money and use an oblong punch, you will never go back to the work-around method.

For most of our belts and dog collars we use a 1 inch oblong punch. We use larger punches for items with large or bulky buckles, and smaller punches for small items with slender buckles. If you can’t afford a number of different sizes of oblong hole punch, you can use the one you already own to make a longer hole. Punch one hole and then overlap the punch on the existing hole, extending it past the existing hole to the desired slot length. Give it a blow with the hammer so the two slots make one longer oblong slot. You can see a poly cutting board being used below to protect the bench and the tool’s edge.

An oblong hole punch creates a belt hole with a poly cutting board used as the base.

Use an oblong hole punch tool to punch a hole for a belt buckle. Shown with poly cutting board.

Punching Round Holes With A Rotary Punch

deluxe rotary punch to add a hole in belt is convenient.

Revolving hole punch is convenient for doing the odd quick hole.

The advantage of the rotary hole punch is convenience. It comes with six different sizes of hole punches, which you switch between by rotating the wheel. We used to take this hand tool to craft shows to add a hole to a belt when someone would request it.

The disadvantage is that if you have many holes to punch, using the rotary punch pliers becomes tiring on the hand. It also will only reach about an inch in from the edge of your leather, so you can’t use it to punch a hole in the center of a large piece.  Also, the thicker the leather and the larger the tube size, the harder it becomes to squeeze the revolving punch through.  In these cases, sometimes you have to twist the punch some as you squeeze to get through the thicker leather. This leather tool is good for doing the odd hole, but too tiring and hard for punching lots of holes.

With this type of punch we again use a scrap piece of leather underneath the piece we want to punch, to keep the blades sharp. Otherwise you are crunching the sharp cutting tube into the hard metal anvil. Doing so will dull the tube quicker and wear out the metal anvil. Sandwich your good piece of leather and your scrap piece between the tube and the punching surface, and squeeze the handles together.

Punching Round Holes for Lacing

Four hole leather punch for leather craft.

A four hole punch used for lacing.

Beyond the basic drive and rotary punches, you can find specialty leather punches for different applications. One of the more handy leather work tools is this four hole punch, which is used to make small holes for lacing leather. On this punch each hole is 3/32 inch diameter, spaced 1/4 inch apart. The advantage of the four-in-one punch is that it will save time and keep your holes evenly spaced.  Use this four hole punch for the straight parts of your leather lacing project.  For going around curves, use the single hole punch mentioned at the beginning of the article.

Use this hole puncher the same way as an individual drive punch. As with the oblong punch, you may need to tilt the punch to focus the force of the hammer on a particular hole.

The Video

Here you can watch Jamie demonstrating these leather craft tools. He shows how to punch a hole in a leather belt and other leatherwork projects in his custom leather shop.

Video demonstrating how to make holes in leather.


Braiding Leather Tutorial

Posted on: January 15th, 2019 by Quentin Burns

How to Braid Leather With Three Laces

This braiding leather tutorial will teach you how to create a decorative three lace leather braid. You can use this leather lacing technique to make a braided bracelet, belt, dog collar, or any other leather object.

We’ve made a video showing the complete leather braiding process, which you can find at the end of the blog post. Additionally this article includes written instructions and diagrams for reference.

You will need: a strip of tooling leather, leather lace, and three two-prong lacing needles. Optional: garment leather for lining, and contact cement to attach it. Depending on your project, you may need other leather craft supplies such as rivets, D rings, snaps, and buckles.

Three-lace braid on dog collar.

A three lace braid on our Concho Designer Braided Dog Collar

Preparing Your Leather

First, finish your natural tooling leather in whatever way you prefer. The leather in our dog collar in the photo above has been dyed, dipped in neatsfoot oil, polished with acrylic resolene, and coated with dubbin water repellent.

Punch holes in your piece of leather in the pattern shown below. You will need two columns of holes, spaced ½ inch apart, plus one extra hole between columns at the top and bottom of the braid. The holes should be as small as your needles and lace allow. We use a 3/32 inch hole punch for our leather craft projects.

Finished three leather lace braid example.

A finished leather braid. Refer here for hole placement.

Finished three-lace leather braid example, back side.

Reverse side of a finished leather braid.

Cut 3 strands of leather lace. Each strand should be 4 to 4 ½ times the length of the final braid. Use a knife or skiving tool to thin the ends of the laces, removing material from the rough sides so that they resemble the picture below. Next, secure the laces to the two-prong lacing needles by punching the prongs through the finished top sides of the laces.

Leather lacing needles with attached laces.

Attach two-prong lacing needles as shown to leather lace.

Starting the Braid (Step 1)

Thread the leather laces through the top three holes from the back (the unfinished leather side) to the front (the finished leather side). Leave about an inch of lace remaining on the back side.

Hold the leather so that the front side is facing you. Take the leftmost lace and weave it under the middle lace, and then over the right lace. Thread it through the third hole down on the right side of the leather strip. Make sure to leave the second row of holes open, as shown in the diagram.

Next thread the middle lace through the third hole down on the left. The lace which began on the right is now the new middle lace.

Turn your leather piece over. You should have two laces emerging from the third row of holes. Pull these laces back up to the second row of holes, and thread them through to the front.

This step will create two loops on the back side of the braid. Tuck the free ends of the laces into these loops to secure them.

How to start braiding leather shown in diagram.

Braiding leather first requires securing lace ends under loops on the back side of the braid.

Braiding Leather (Step 2)

Begin to braid with the left most free lace (second left hole down from top) shown in diagram “Front-1” below. Weave that lace across the others following an “over, under, over” pattern, then thread it through the fourth hole down on the right side. Thread the middle lace through the fourth hole on the left side. The lace that began on the right will now be the new middle lace.

On the back side of the braid, bring the left and right laces up one hole and thread them through to the front. The laces will now be in their “starting position” again. Repeat step 2 until you reach the end of the braid.

How to follow the three lace leather braiding technique.

Follow an “over, under” pattern for this leather braiding technique.

Ending the Braid (Step 3)

When your leather braid is near the end, the three laces should line up with the bottom three holes. Thread them through, and turn the leather piece over. Tuck the lace ends into the nearest loops, the same way you did at the start of the braid. Trim any excess. Refer to the photo above showing “Reverse side of a finished braid,” to check this step.

You can glue down the lace ends to make your braid more secure. Our finished braided products have a soft garment leather lining glued underneath, to hide and completely secure the underside of the braid.

The Video

This video shows our leather braiding technique in action. Watch to see how it’s done, then refer to our diagrams when making your own braid.

Video tutorial on braiding with three laces.

The Finished Braid

The leather craft projects shown below are finished with the lace holes being 1/2 inch apart running down the length of the leather wristband and dog collar. If you want a tighter looking braid, you can make the holes 1/4 inch apart instead.  However it will be much more time consuming to braid the leather lace, and it will take a lot more lace. We have braided the lace with both distances of hole spacing but prefer the 1/2 inch spacing.

Wristbands with three-lace braid.

Braided leather wristbands.

Dog collar with three-lace braid.

The finished braid on our Braided Leather Dog Collar.

If you make a leather project using this braid, please send us a photo to share on Facebook and let us know how it went for you!


How To Make A Leather Belt Key Holder

Posted on: September 21st, 2018 by Quentin Burns

Leather Lanyard For Keys

Each leather belt key holder shown in this article was made using 5-6 oz scrap vegetable-tanned leather. Vegetable tanned leather, also called tooling leather, is leather that was produced using tannin from natural plant materials such as tree bark. This results in a firmer leather that can be stamped with designs. The 5-6 oz is a measurement for leather that means it is about 5/64 – 6/64 inch thick.

For this quick, easy project you will need one swivel snap or scissor snap of any width, one large jacket snap with long post (post and stud), and one large jacket snap with regular cap post (cap and socket). You will also need a tool for punching holes, a snap setting tool and a dot snap anvil.

Leather belt key holders with swivel clips.

Leather belt key holders in black and natural leather.

Preparing The Leather

This project used scrap leather which had already been dyed, treated with leather conditioner, and polished. This is a great way to use up your small pieces of leather. If starting with natural undyed leather, cut your strap out first and then treat it in whatever way you prefer. Alternately you can leave it untreated. Undyed, untreated vegetable tanned leather will darken naturally over time and attain a light golden brown patina.

To figure out the size of strap you will need, measure the inside width of your scissor snap’s loop. The strap should be cut to this width, or very slightly narrower. Next, measure the width of your belt. The length of the strip you cut should be twice your belt width, plus 4 3/4 inches. This measurement doesn’t need to be exact, since you can adjust your snap placement in the next step to make a loop that fits perfectly. If you’re unsure how long of a strip you need, err on the longer side.

Draw an appropriately sized rectangle onto your leather. Then cut out your strap using a sharp utility knife and a straight edge.

Cut belt key fob strap from scrap leather.

Cut the strap for your key fob out of scrap leather.

Punching Holes for Snaps

Measure 3/8” from one end of your strap. Make a mark in the center of the piece, to indicate where you will punch the first hole.

Measure strap for leather snaps.

Measure where to place your snaps on your leather strap.

The hole should be the same diameter as the snap post you’re going to use. For our large snaps with long posts, we use a 5/32” hole punch tool. You can refer to our video How To Punch Holes In Leather for more advice on this step.

Once you have your first hole punched, feed the end with the hole through the scissor snap and fold it over by about 1 1/4 inches. Make a mark where you’ll punch your second hole, such that it will line up with the first.

Belt key chain folded through snap loop.

Fold the leather key chain strap over your scissor snap.

 

Belt key clip with holes for snap.

Punch a hole in the other side of your leather belt key clip.

Setting the Snap

To set the snap you will need a snap setter tool, a hammer, and a concave dot anvil. You will also need a solid surface to work on, such as a mini anvil, and sturdy table or work bench so that your snap won’t bounce when you’re setting it.

Snap setting tools for leather lanyard keychain.

Tools for setting the snap in your leather lanyard (dot snap setter, dot anvil, mini anvil & mallet).

There are four components of a snap: the top cap and socket, plus the bottom post and stud. The interior socket that goes with the top cap has rounded edges with a wire spring in it. The stud that matches the bottom post has flat edges, and the same diameter as the post back. You can see the different snap parts being used on belt leather in our video How To Set Snaps With Long Posts.

First slide the scissor snap into the loop, and fold the end over so that the holes match up. Put the bottom post up through the right side of the loop. Place the corresponding stud on the other side, as shown. Set these against the flat side of the dot anvil, or against a traditional flat anvil. Since the snap is going through two layers of leather, we used the large jacket snap with long post (post and stud) for this end of the leather strap.

Position the snap setter on top of the snap and hammer downwards with a few sharp blows. Test that the snap is securely set and can’t be spun around.

Stud and post snap set in leather key lanyard.

Set the stud and post snap parts on a flat anvil.

Once you have the bottom snap on, wrap the belt clip around your belt to adjust the size. Make a mark where the top snap will go, and trim your strap shorter if necessary. Place the mark for the top snap at least 3/8” in from the end of the strip.

Punch a hole and set your top snap the same way you set the first, with the cap side facing down against the concave indentation in the round dot anvil. Since the snap is set through only one layer of leather on this end of the strap, we used the large jacket snap with regular cap post (cap and socket).

Cap and socket snap set in leather key holder.

Set the socket and cap snap against a concave anvil.

Permanent Leather Lanyard Rivet Option

If you prefer to have a permanent lanyard attached to the scissor snap instead of the removable type described with a snap, use a rivet instead. A medium rapid rivet will go through 3 layers of 5-6 oz tooling leather. If you use a thicker leather, you may have to use a longer rivet. A variety pack of different sized rivets with a rivet setter is a good way to start if you don’t know what size rivet to use for your thickness of leather. This is a good video to introduce you to How To Set A Rivet In Leather.

The Finished Leather Belt Key Holder

Here is the final leather belt key holder! If you make this project please send us a picture to share on our leather facebook page, and let us know how things went for you.

completed leather belt key holder

Finished leather belt key holder.


Tealight Candle Holders Leather Project

Posted on: July 6th, 2018 by Quentin Burns

How To Make Wood Candle Holders

These vintage candle holders were made by Alana LeBlanc, using reclaimed pallet wood and scrap leather. This is a good project for people looking to improve their leather crafting skills whilst using up spare scrap materials. Any flaws will just add to the rustic look of the tealight candle holders leather project. These leather decorated wood candle holders make great personalized gifts.

leather crafted tealight candle holders

The finished leather project: tealight candle holders.

Preparing the Wooden Blocks

Cut your pallet into manageable pieces and cut to size with a hand saw or chop saw.

Trace your tealight in pencil onto the tops of the candlestick holders, and measure the diameter so you will know what size drill bit to choose. Measure the height of the metal cup for the tealight to determine how deep you will need to drill. Secure the wooden block in a clamp so it will not spin when you drill. Wear safety glasses and hold the drill perpendicular to the top of the block and drill to the desired depth.

Apply wood stain to your candlestick holders with a wet sponge brush, to best cover any crevices in the rough wood. Before each coat dries, wipe off excess stain with a damp cloth. Seal with varathane satin finish.

Cutting the Leather

We use a cutter to make these stars, but you can also print out a paper template of the pattern you want, trace it onto the leather, and cut using a sharp utility knife and a straight edge.

leather project: decorative star cut-outs

Cut out decorative star pieces for your candle holder leather craft project.

Etching Your Leather Project

Make a template for the design you want to etch. You can do this by drawing or printing your design onto regular computer paper. If you want to etch a word, a thicker font with rounded edges will be easiest to replicate with the etching tool.

Wet the top of your undyed tooling leather with a damp sponge of water, and line up your template on top of it. Using a sharp pencil, trace over the design with a firm hand. This will mark the leather underneath and create a guide for your etching. You must use undyed tooling leather also known as vegetable tanned leather and carving leather in order for the leather to accept the etching or hand stamped designs.

Pattern for personalized leather craft project

Use a pattern to trace a personalized message onto your leather pieces.

Discard the paper template and re-wet the leather. Trace the design again with a rounded modeling leather craft tool, applying steady pressure. Retrace and touch up the etching until it has a consistent depth. The goal is to indent the leather, not to cut into it, so don’t be too rough at this stage. Designs can also be imprinted in the tooling leather with leathercraft stamp tools as shown in this article on tooling and dyeing leather guitar straps.

Etching letters into your leathercraft project

Etch lettering to personalize your leather pieces.

Painting and Finishing

Once you’re happy with your etching, there are several options for finishing the leather. Alana’s pieces for this project have been brushed with neatsfoot oil, a leather conditioner. You might also color the undyed tooling leather with a leather dye. Apply two or three coats of leather dye with a dry flannel cloth or sheep’s wool. Then apply the neatsfoot oil, if using. The conditioner will darken the leather.

Leather craft project darkened with neatsfoot oil.

Use neatsfoot oil to darken your leather panel.

Wait an hour or more for the oil to soak in. Finish by polishing the leather with Fiebing’s acrylic resolene, if you want a glossy look. Apply two coats of polish with a damp cloth, brushing in the same direction with a light hand. Let dry for ten minutes after each coat.

The last step is painting the etched designs with acrylic dye. We use the round headed modeling tool but you can also use a fine artist’s brush for this.

Painting letters on leather project pieces.

Handpaint letters onto your etched pieces for the leather project.

Gluing Leather to Wood Candle Holders

Position your leather pieces where you want them on the wooden candlestick holders, and trace them in pencil.

Lining up decorations for wood candle holder.

Trace the decorative leather pieces onto your wood candle holders.

Apply contact cement to the back sides of the leather, and to the wood where the designs will be placed. Once the glue is dry, stick your leather pieces onto the candlestick holders and tap with a cobbler’s hammer to firmly adhere.

Contact cement application for wood candle holders.

Apply contact cement to the wood candle holders.

 

Cementing decorative pieces to wood for leathercraft project.

Tap decorative leathercraft pieces with a hammer to cement to the tealight candle holders.

The Final Tealight Candle Holders Product

Complete leathercrafting project: tealight candle holders

The finished tealight candle holders.

If you make this project let us know how things went for you, and send us pictures so we can share them!




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