How to Make a Leather Belt

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Belts make a great gift for anyone and are among the simplest of leather-working projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat Work Surfaces
  • Leather Hole Punchers
  • Leathers
  • Misting Spray Bottles
  • Belt Buckles
  • Measuring Tapes
  • Razor Knives
  • Sponges
  • Wood Or Rawhide Mallets
  • Pencils
  • Leather Cleaners
  • Leather Conditioners
  • Leather Protection Sprays
  • Punches & Chisels
  • Rivet Tools And Rivets
  • Choose leather and a buckle for your belt. Vegetable-tanned leather is most commonly used in the production of belts, as it can be easily tooled and dyed.

  • Cut your belt from the leather. See "How to Cut Leather," under Related eHows, for instructions. The belt should be 1 foot longer than the waist measurement and equal in width to the interior width of the chosen buckle.

  • Decide what shape you want the free belt end to take. You can make it pointed, rounded, square - whatever shape you like. Look at a variety of existing belts to get ideas. Mark the belt end and use a razor knife and straightedge to cut it to the desired shape.

  • Fold the uncut end of the belt back so that a crease is made 1 1/2 inches from the belt end. Place a slot punch on the belt so that the punch's end evenly intersects the crease at the crease's center point.

  • Hold the handle portion of the punch and strike the top with a wood or rawhide mallet. Repeat until the punch has completely punctured the leather.

  • Use a rotary punch or a drive punch and mallet to make four rivet holes in the leather. The diameter of the rivets and the punched holes should be equal, and the holes should be placed evenly around the slot. The first two holes should be placed 1/4 inch from the belt end, and each hole should be 1/4 inch from the belt's edges.

  • Place the second set of holes on the other side of the slot so that when the belt end is folded back along the crease line, both sets of holes match up evenly.

  • Use an edge beveler to trim all of the belt edges. Do any tooling or decorative stamping at this time as well.

  • Use leather dye to color the belt. See "How to Dye Leather," under Related eHows, for instructions. Allow the belt to dry completely, then use a clean white cloth to rub neat's-foot oil or saddle soap along the length of the belt. Polish and remove the excess oil or soap with newspaper or rag paper.

  • Insert the buckle prong through the punched slot so that the buckle is correctly positioned. Fold the uncut belt end back so that the rivet holes are lined up, and insert the rivets from the underside of the belt. Place the belt end on a flat work surface and affix the rivet caps to the rivets with a mallet.

  • Determine the placement of the holes that the buckle's prong will be inserted through. Put the belt around the waist of the wearer so that the buckle is at the center of the waist. On the underside of the belt, mark a hole position that will give the wearer a snug belt fit.

  • Mark a series of holes 1 inch apart from the point determined in the previous step to the belt's free end. Punch the holes with a rotary punch or a drive punch and mallet. Make sure the holes are centered.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider purchasing a precut belt blank, especially if you plan on making just one belt. This is a cost-effective alternative to purchasing an entire piece of vegetable-tanned leather. Just make sure the belt blank is wide enough for the chosen buckle.
  • Invest in a strap cutter if you plan on making many belts. This tool allows you to easily and quickly cut leather into straps of various sizes.
  • Keep the leather evenly dampened while you work it. This makes the leather easier to manipulate. Either spray the entire piece lightly with a spray bottle of water or dampen it with a sponge.
  • Look for rivets and punches with a diameter of approximately 1/8 inch.
  • The rivet holes should be placed around the slot hole so that if a line were to be drawn connecting the holes, a square or rectangle would be formed around the slot.

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