Leather hinges are used in a wide range of applications. From craft work to purses to chests, leather can be used to create soft yet durable and long-lasting hinges. Although the type of leather, the size of the hinges and how you attach the hinges will vary depending on what you are using them for, a few general steps can be followed for creating leather hinges. The strongest leather hinges will be made of thick, high-quality leather.
Things You'll Need
- Leather punch
- French curve ruler
- Card stock paper
- Attachment hardware
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Choose leather with durability that suits the needs of your project. Rawhide and carving leather, for example, are thick, strong leathers and would be appropriate for heavy-duty hinges. Upholstery leather and deerskin are thinner and can be used for purses, satchels and small boxes. Full grain leathers are the best quality. Tanned and finished leathers come in a variety of tones, from light to dark. Choose a tone that will complement your project.
Determine the size and shape of your hinges. Leather hinges are typically long, rectangular shapes. Create a template using card stock paper. Trace the shape of the hinge on the leather using a pencil. A metal hinge can traced as a template.
Cut the leather hinges with a utility knife or leather shears. The hinges can have squared corners or rounded corners. Use a French curve ruler to trace rounded edges. Leather can be soaked in water for a few minutes if you are having difficulty cutting.
Mark dots where the screw or rivet holes go. Measure where the center line of the hinge is so that you have two halves. Mark two to four evenly spaced holes along the two lines opposite the center of the hinge. The holes can be in a straight row or they can be staggered to create a V shape.
Punch out the holes by hammering them out with a drive punch and a mallet or with a rotary punch. A rotary punch works much like a paper hole punch. Place the jaws of the punch, line them up with the marked hole, and give the handle a firm squeeze. Also punch holes matching the holes in the item to be hinged, if necessary. Use a punch size that will accommodate the size of the screw or rivet you are using. If you are tacking the hinges, there is no need to punch a hole.
Attach the hinges. Space the hinges evenly along the corner to be hinged. Attach thin leather hinges to flexible materials with rivets or Chicago screws. Attach leather to wood with hammer tacks or screws. Fit the screws or tacks through the punched holes.