How to Make Leather Bracers

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Leather bracers are an essential piece of any medieval costume.
Leather bracers are an essential piece of any medieval costume. (Image: Vagengeym_Elena/iStock/Getty Images)

With the popularity of high fantasy, few medieval costume pieces are as popular and sought-after, or as easy to make at home, as a pair of simple leather bracers. While bracers can be finely crafted and decorated with intricate tooling, layering, and additions, at the most basic leather bracers are simply bands of leather cut and formed to wrap around a person's forearms, and can be made at home with very little time, investment, or experience in leather-working.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 to 8 oz tooling leather
  • Shears
  • Leather lacing
  • Leather hole punch
  • Tape measure
  • Thick paper or card stock
  • Pen or marker

Measure the distance from the inside pit of your elbow to your wrist, the circumference of your wrist, and the circumference of the widest part of your forearm. If you are planning on making a pair of bracers, take the measurements of both of your arms to discern if any portion of them is different.

Draw a trapezoid on a piece of thick paper or card stock, using the measurements you obtained from your arm. To do this, draw a line the length of the circumference of the widest part of your forearm. Then draw a line perpendicular to and coming from the center of the first line, the same length as the distance between your elbow and wrist. Then draw a third line, parallel to the first and with its center at the end of the second, the length of the circumference of your wrist. Then connect the end points of the first and third lines, and cut this shape out. Wrap it around your arm to test the fit of the bracer.

Trace the outline of this shape onto the rough side of the leather. Then add a slight inward curve to the smaller parallel side and a slight outward curve to the larger parallel side, so that the shape looks like part of a very large ring. Cut it out using the leather shears.

Soak the leather in warm water for a few minutes, then let it dry to damp. Wrap it around your arm to test the fit, and make any adjustments needed.

Measure four or five holes in the leather on each side of the gap about about an inch apart. Punch the holes with a leather hole punch. Make sure to punch holes larger than the lacing you are planning on using, and punch them at least half an inch away from the edges of the leather.

Lace the bracer up comfortably in a zigzag pattern the same way you would lace up a new pair of sneakers. Put it on and tie the laces at one end. Wear it as it dries. As the leather dries, it will stiffen somewhat and conform to the shape of your arm. If the bracer becomes uncomfortable when it dries, re-soak it and try again.

Tips & Warnings

  • Soften extra stiff leather by massaging it with saddle conditioner or coconut oil.
  • Customize your bracer by hot-gluing metal studs or buttons along the edges.
  • For a distressed look, spray the leather with rubbing alcohol and rub it with 220-grit sandpaper. Then heat-dry it with a hair dryer, or simply lay it out in the sun. Repeat until you have the desired look.
  • These bracers are patterned off of historical and fantasy armor, but standard leather bracers are not armor and will not protect you from any significant harm.

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References

  • "Leatherworking Handbook: A Practical Illustrated Sourcebook of Techniques and Projects" by Valerie Michael
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