How to Shape Leather

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Some leatherworking projects, such as containers or portfolios, require that the leather be shaped or molded to hold a particular form. Use the following suggestions to help create a formed or molded piece.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather Straps And Leathers
  • Sponges
  • Wood Or Rawhide Mallets
  • Water
  • Awl
  • Straightedges

Shaped

  • Determine the finished dimensions of a leather container and obtain a wooden form that matches these dimensions. For example, for a leather cup with a diameter of 3 inches, you will need a circular wooden form of the same diameter.

  • Make your own wooden forms if there are none available that fit your size requirements. Make sure that the wood has not been stained.

  • Soak the leather completely.

  • Remove the leather from the water and wrap the piece around the wooden form. You may have to pull hard on the leather to get it around the form.

  • Secure the leather to the form with smooth leather straps that have not been dyed or painted. Make sure that the straps are smooth and thick enough as to leave no impression upon the leather.

  • Allow the leather to dry thoroughly. Undo the straps and then remove the leather piece from the form.

Folded

  • Keep leather in a folded shape, such as needed for some book covers or portfolios, by first scoring the intended fold line with an awl or other like tool. This should be done on the wrong side of the piece.

  • Dampen the leather piece with water and a sponge and fold the leather piece, wrong sides together, along the scored fold line.

  • Use a wood or rawhide mallet to hammer along the fold. Allow the piece to dry in this position.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use any form, in lieu of a wooden form, that will not break from the stress of having the leather wrapped around it and will not adversely affect the leather. For example, do not use metal forms that will rust when wet.
  • Use a straightedge to keep your fold line straight.
  • Rest weights along the folded edge after you have hammered it. A large, heavy book works well for this purpose.

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