Leather Cuff Bracelet - Learn How To Make A Leather Cuff
You will be amazed at how easy it is to make leather cuff bracelets. Chapter 1 runs through the DIY Leather Cuff steps, but each of the 7 chapters gives detailed instructions on how to do each leather crafting process.
We will show you how to make 2 leather cuffs. We will use a chrome tanned 12” x 12” leather panel so we don’t have to dye or topcoat. We don’t have to wait on dry time. All we must do is cut, add a couple of holes, a snap and we will have an empty canvas with which to work.
We will learn many processes like: how to set spots, dye leather, stamp leather and add hardware. These extras will take our leather cuff project up a notch. Learning these processes opens a limitless array of possibilities for DIY Leather Cuff Bracelets. For artists, silversmiths, people who love accessories, a jeweler, etc., the blank leather cuff is the perfect place to start.
Chapter 1: Leather Cuff Bracelet - Making a Leather Cuff Bracelet Intro
When making a leather cuff pattern, we will be dealing with lengths, widths and designs.
- Start with a straight-edged piece of paper or pattern paper and draw a line 1 ¼” from the edge. This will be the width of the leather cuff. We have the option to make this cuff 3/8” wide to however wide we desire. Feel free to choose the width that you love. It’s your cuff and your call on width.
- When figuring out the length, we will need some room between the snap and the end of our strap. It gives us the freedom to drop in a round end or clip the corners of the cuff.
- Come in 3/4” of an inch from the end of the pattern and mark a line. That will give us ample room to punch the cuff ends and that line will be where we put the snap (snap line).
Pro tip: Here is a mistake many people make, but once we are aware of it we won’t make it. Example: We’ve measured our wrist with a flexible measuring tape, and we are at 7 inches snap to snap. We don’t want the 7” to be measured from end to end. We will need the measured length of our wrist plus ¾” added to both ends of the strap to allow for rounding or any corner cuts on the ends of the leather cuff. So, our total length in this example would be 8 ½”. That gives us ¾” to work with on each end.
- Mark a 5/8” center line on each snap line. If you have made a wider width, then you will need to find the center and mark it on each snap line. These marks will be where you put your snaps.
- That finishes up the basic leather cuff pattern. Write on the pattern: Fits ______ (fill in the blank with the measurement of your wrist). On our example, we would write Fits 7”. This reminds us of the size when we use this pattern a second time.
- Let’s cut out the pattern that we just drew, and you are then ready to cut leather for this cuff bracelet project.
- See more detailed instructions for making a pattern in Chapter 2
Cutting Leather for the Cuff
- Take a panel of leather from the pack and lay it on a protective cutting surface so that we don’t damage our table. Here are a few things that work well to cut upon. (poundo board, poly cutting board and , and novolene chopping block). We are going to cut 1 ¼” wide so let’s drop our square 1 1/4” and make a small nick (just enough to see) in the leather with our utility knife.
- Move the square down to 8 ½” where our pattern ends. Square it using our first nick mark and cut it with the utility knife.
- Let’s cut the bottom of the cuff across. We don’t have to have a perfect tight cut at the bottom because we will be round punching it.
- We can cut a round end, simply clip our corners, or cut an angle. It’s up to each of us how we want our design.
Marking, Punching and Setting Snaps on the Leather Cuff Bracelet
Marking & Punching the Leather Cuff Ends
- Let’s use an awl, pen or pencil and mark for our snap holes by laying the pattern over the leather and pressing where we had previously marked the center of the snap line.
- Take a revolving punch and choose one of the middle-sized holes so that we can put the post through it. Choosing a snug fitting hole will give the cuff some good durability.
- Snap both snap holes in the leather cuff.
- Next, we will round end punch each end of the leather cuff. We can put a piece of leather over our quartz block and underneath our poly board to deaden the sound and give our punch board a little grip when we punch the cuff bracelet ends.
- Round end punches are size specific so we need the 1 ¼” size.
Pro tip: Put your pinky finger at the outside end of the round punch so that you can feel the end of your strap and the punch.
Note: Do not put fingers directly on the cutting edge of the round end punch. It is very sharp. Watch video for proper placement.
- Scoot the round end punch in a little bit (approx. 1/8”) onto the leather cuff bracelet. Look at how the other two ends of the punch fall on the strap. You will be able to see a little bit of clearance on each side. This is how we know that we will get a very clean accurate cut. Now punch both ends of the cuff. Because we have given ourselves that extra ¾” on each end of the cuff, we have enough room to do a second punch if we need to and no one will notice it.
Setting a snap on a leather cuff bracelet. (See Chapter 7 for more details)
- We are using a nickel Line 24 Snap. It is a common snap that is very easy to set. It works with a 4/5 ounce up to an 8/9 ounce leather. The Line 20 snaps, sets the same as the 24 but it is good for ¾ or 4/5 ounce leather.
- Select 2 female and 2 male snaps. It does not matter which goes with which, the snap will still bite. Let’s start with a piece that has an open back on it.
- Lay that flat on the quartz and come through our snap hole from the back to our top grain.
- Take the flange from the inside snap and drop it on the post.
- Pick up our snap setting tool. Notice it has a rounded head. Set that head right down on the post and pound it with a rawhide mallet and watch as it curls down nicely.
Note: Snap setters come in Line 20 and Line 24 as well as Deluxe Sets
Pro tip: We don’t want to drive the setter so hard that the flange pulls in because it will cause the snap not to bite. We do need it set down enough so that it does not spin on the strap.
- Spin the leather cuff around and use an anvil because now we are adding our cap and we don’t want to crush the head. Put the top grain down because that is the outside of the snap. Drop down the female piece of the snap. Use the same snap setter tool. Give it two good whacks with our mallet. Now that side is set.
- We are finished with the basic leather cuff. We can decorate it or keep it as is — both options look great. If you want to learn more steps and options to making leather cuff bracelets then proceed to Chapter 2.
Chapter 2: Leather Cuff Bracelet - Making a Pattern
In this lesson, we will be making 2 beautiful leather cuff bracelets. We will be working with natural veg tan leather. Veg tan leather is great to work with because it offers us so many options. We can dye it and achieve many rich colors; we can stamp it and lay in antique to give it custom design and we can topcoat it to give it a nice gloss.
We need to take our time creating our patterns because it is critical. All processes down the line depend on getting the pattern right.
Making a pattern for the Red Leather Cuff Bracelet
We are starting by making a triangular shaped red leather cuff bracelet with an intricate design or so it seems. We will find out that it is a very easy design to create. Please watch the video to see how we proceed. When making your own cuff, it is your cuff, your call, but this is how we did this example.
- Measure your wrist. In our example, we have a 7” wrist from snap to snap. On a straight line mark a beginning spot and measure 7 inches and mark it at 7”. Circle both of those marks and write in, Snap. We will be building everything out from that point.
- Add and mark ¾” past the outside snap hole. On the other end, add and mark 4 ½” past the inside snap hole.
- The large end of the triangular leather cuff bracelet is 3”. Let's square our ruler on the center line and find where we marked the additional 4 ½” horizontally.
- Draw a 1 ½” mark to the left and a 1 ½” line to the right of the center line vertically at the 4 ½” point. That will represent the 3” width end of our leather cuff.
- Go to the other end where we have already marked the snap hole. The snap will be 5/8” radius so we need 1” width to accommodate. Mark ½” vertically on each side of the horizontal center line that is at the snap hole mark.
- Go the endpoint of the smaller end where we added ¾” and make a vertical line to better see our endpoint.
- Using the marks we made, let's line up the 1” to the 3” mark and draw a long line to connect them. This line will extend over ¾” to meet up at the end of the small side. Our sample is 12 ½”. Do both sides and we now have a leather cuff pattern. Let’s make the decoration pattern for this cuff.
- We are using ¼” nickel spots for decoration. We will bring those in ¼” from the outside edges and space them ¾”.
- Measure ¼” from the outside lines of the cuff pattern and draw a parallel line on the inside. This will be your spot line guide. Do the same for the other side of the leather cuff pattern. We don’t want to bring the spots all the way down to the small end snap, so it is ok to phase out the snap line approx. ¾” from the snap. Watch the video if this is confusing.
- Let’s draw a vertical line across our snap center line, extending it beyond each outer line. We are working with the snap line on the wide end of the cuff bracelet. The reason we draw this line is that we can use it as a starting point to measure our spot placement and everything will be symmetrical, balanced and line up perfectly.
- Measure from that snap line we just marked in the last step, every ¾” and make mark down the entire ¼” snap line. Then move your square and mark the other side. Your marks for placing your spots should be very balanced because you used the snap line to start your measuring.
- Take a bottle cap of some sort. For example, we used the Gum Tragacanth lid and slide it down to the small end of the pattern where we extended the pattern ¾”. Use the cap to draw two curves on either side of the center line. That creates a rounded end.
- Move the same cap to the opposite end and use it as a guide to draw a curve on both sides of the 3” leather cuff side. Now we have our rounded corners drawn.
Using a color-coded system to mark your leather patterns
The reason we use a color-coded system is to prevent ruining our leather project by accidentally punching a hole where a mark was all that was needed and, as a result, one of our elements won’t work properly or fit.
- Using a permanent marker, mark items:
- Use black where you need to punch a hole. For example, we make a black circle around the two snap hole markings.
- Use red where you need to make a mark and not punch a hole. For example, we circle all the spot markings.
- Take a pen and write the measurement in inches on the center line of the pattern. For our example, it fits 7”.
- Measure our total pattern length and mark it somewhere on the center line. For our example, it’s width is 12 ¼” so we mark 12 ¼” Blank.
- That finishes the pattern for our red cuff. We cut that pattern out and lay it aside and make the pattern for our brown leather cuff.
Making a pattern for the Brown Leather Cuff Bracelet
This leather cuff will have two straps and a main body. We will do a lot on this leather cuff because we need to learn about stamping, edge work, spots and dying leather. The sky is the limit when creating leather cuff bracelets. Very subtle and simple detail can make a gorgeous cuff.
- For this example, our wrist size is going to be 7”. This type of cuff can be uncomfortable if it butts up close together. Let’s draw out the main section of the cuff on paper or pattern paper by making it 6 ½ inches in length and 2 ½” width.
- We will need spots or rivet holes in both ends to secure our straps and billet. Draw a rivet line ½” inward from either end of our pattern.
- Measure another 1/2” inward from both vertical rivet lines and draw another vertical line. The two new lines will mark the outside edges of our box that we will be using for stamping..
- Next, we will be drawing the marks to set our rivet holes.
Using the rivet line, mark 3/8” from either side. Let’s circle those once we have drawn them.
Note: Here is how we figure where to set the rivet holes vertically. We want to come in 3/8” on either side because the strap is ½” wide, adding 1/8” on either side will equal ¾”. Half of that is 3/8”.
- The next rivet hole will be right in the center. Since our width is 2 ½”, our center would be 1 ¼”. Measure and mark the center rivet and circle it.
- Since we have already figured out that our strap is ½” and we are adding 1/8” on either side, we know we have ¾”. Measure down ¾” from the top baseline of the body pattern and draw a line just in the box area where we will be stamping. Now measure ¾” up from the bottom baseline and draw a line. The middle area will be our stamping area. We can put a few squiggly lines in that area to mark it.
- Go to the corners of the pattern and make little slashes to indicate and remind us to clip our corners. We will come back to this and mark it later.
Pro tip: To avoid making a mistake, we need to notice that on our base we have 5 ½” from rivet hole to rivet hole horizontally. When we figure our strap length, we have to consider that we want the strap to stand up a little bit and it needs to be longer. Take 5 ½” and add ¼”. See below for more info.
Drawing the Straps
- Draw two horizontal lines, ½” above the other.
- Find the center at ¼ and draw the center line.
- On the ½” line, measure 5 ¾” horizontally and mark each end, now circle those beginning and ending marks. These are not the ends of our strap. We will now add ½” to both ends of the strap. This allows us to use a round end punch on the ends. This also finishes this basic strap pattern.
Adding decorations to the strap pattern
We will add 5 spots centered vertically with a ¾” spread in between. When measuring to mark for the spots on the strap center line, you have 5 ¾”. To make measuring easier, back square 1/8” so that it is 6” and the center mark is 3”. Mark the line at 3” then measure ¾” out on both sides and mark. Now circle the marks. Those are where we will put out spots.
Drawing the Billet
- We will measure from the center rivet hole on the far side of the base cuff pattern to figure out what size to make our billet. Using our example, we have 7” wrist and we will need to have room for the bend or curve of the leather, so we will add ½”, making the leather cuff 7 ½”. Mark the snap hole for the billet at 7 ½” on the base pattern using the center rivet hole to line up.
- Now start measuring from the center rivet hole line using the rivet line closest to where the billet will go. Measure over to the snap hole for the billet and that is the width of our billet. In this example, the billet will be 2” wide.
- Draw two horizontal lines ½” apart and draw a center line at ¼” or middle. This line will represent our billet. Using our square, measure and mark 2” on the center of the billet that we just drew. Circle those two marks on your pattern.
- The two marks will represent a rivet hole and slit to the far right and a mark for hole to the left. Circle these two marks. Add a ½” to outer side of (far left) mark to allow for an end cut.
- On the right side, add ¾” past the rivet hole and mark to allow for the slit that goes over the Button Screw Post.
Finish up with Pattern Maintenance
- On our pattern, draw in round ends on the billet strap and the other strap.
- On all marks where we will be punching holes, circle them with a black permanent marker.
- In this project example, you will black circle the 6 rivet holes on the base pattern.
- Black circle the two end holes of the strap.
- Black circle the two end hole marks in the billet.
- Circle the spot marks in red. In this project, we will have 5 spots on the strap. We do not want to punch holes where our spots go.
- Mark all the total lengths on the straps and the billet pattern.
- Cut out the patterns and we are ready to start our project.
Cutting the Leather for Leather Cuff Bracelets
- In this project, we used 12” x 24” Hermann Oak® Panel in 7/8 oz. Hermann Oak® leather, one of the highest quality leathers in the world in Chuck Dorsett’s opinion. It’s hard for us crafters to justify buying a 24-25 ft. side. With the 12” x 24” panels, we can use the best leather on the market, and it is affordable to us.
- Plastic Sheeting paper is great, but we can use copy paper to make a pattern. If our pattern works and everything fits, we can trace it on to plastic sheeting which makes great pattern material and is very durable.
- We can use a pen. Not that great on leather but for this project we will be cutting inside the pen line and beveling the edges so a pen line will work.
- We can lay our pattern on the straight cut edge of our leather panel and use our square as a weight to steady the pattern while we trace around it.
Cutting Leather for the Red Leather Cuff Bracelet
- Using our square and a utility knife, we can start cutting the leather just inside the pen marks. When we come to the corners, we can do small cuts to round those corners if we are nervous to cut them in a steady swipe.
- With the cuff blank cut out, place our pattern on top for accuracy. With our awl let’s mark only the holes where we are going to punch a hole. That would be the ones we circled in black. Set that blank aside when finished marking with the awl.
Cutting the Leather for the Brown Leather Cuff Bracelet
We will be using 2/3 oz. Hermann Oak® Leather Panel (12" x 24”) for the brown leather cuff bracelet. 2/3 oz. is thin for a veg tan leather, but because we have two extra straps on the cuff, it will really feel substantial and comfortable.
- Get the pattern for the brown leather cuff bracelet and we will cut the leather on that project. These are straight line cuts. Lay the base pattern down on the leather and line it up with the corner and bottom edge. Mark the corners with an awl.
- While the pattern is down, let’s go ahead and mark our punch holes. This project example has 6 punch holes that are circled in black.
- Now mark the four corners of the panel where we will be using a swivel knife to give us a border line outside of our basketweave.
- Lining up our square with the corner marks, we can cut out our base for the brown leather cuff.
- We could cut our straps with our square but let’s take this opportunity to use a wooden strap cutter.
- The wooden strap cutter is a very helpful and useful tool.
- We are cutting out a ½” strap so we need to set the cross-arm on the wooden strap cutter to ½”. Butt the strap cutter against the edge of our leather and pull. Presto! A perfect strap every time. Repeat the process to make your second ½” strap.
- Set the strap cutter to 5/8” so we can cut our billet. Tighten the strap cutter and cut the billet.
- The two straps are 6 ¾” long so line them up horizontally against our square and measure 6 ¾” and cut with our utility knife. They are now ready to mark.
- The billet is 3 ¼” length, so measure that against our square and cut.
- Go back to the strap and mark our punch holes on the straps and billets using our awl and the patterns laid on top for accuracy.
- Ready to move to Chapter 3: Adding Edge Work
Chapter 3: Leather Cuff Bracelet -
Adding Leather Edge Work
Using the leather that we cut out in Chapter 2 for our Red and Brown Leather Cuff Bracelets, let's do the edge work. We will be adding a groove line, bevel our edges, round and slick our edges, do round end punches on our straps and punch our round holes. These processes will make our projects look very finished and very professional.
- Start by punching our round holes.
- We will be using a 3 – 4 oz. leather and that is thin therefore we will use a ¼” double capped rivet.
- We will use the smallest tube on the revolving punch because we want the rivet to be snug in that hole. Why? Because that will make the rivets durable and long lasting. Secondly, to avoid frustration if we have multiple rivets on a project, it prevents the rivets from falling out and rolling around.
- We will punch the holes on our base (just the four outer corners). Since there are other marks on our base for the box, they do not need punched.
- Next, punch the holes on both ends of the two straps.
- Then, we will only punch one end of the billet for our rivet. We must do something extra for the button screw (Sam Browne) end.
- Grab the Red Leather Cuff blank (7 – 8 oz.) and we will punch it.
- Adjust up to about the 4th hole on our revolving punch (about 1/8”). We don’t have to be exact with this size because we will be using a line 24 snap and we want that throat to be snug.
- Punch the first and second holes on the Red Leather Cuff blank.
We will be working with two different weights of leather so let’s practice on a scrap piece of leather.
Adjustable Stitch Groover Tool.
- Set the Stitch Groover to 1/8”. Chuck Dorsett suggests that 1/8” is the perfect distance from the edge of leather for a groove line. The primary purpose is to sink a groove line to drop our chisel in if we are going to be hand sewing. The secondary purpose is for looks. It really dresses up our edge and that is why we will be using the groover on these projects and any projects you want to take to the next level.
- Rest the guide arm of the groover up against the outside of the leather. Give the tool a little counterclockwise pressure and come up about 45 degrees. Make two passes. We must be cautious not to add so many groove lines that we create a tab that tears off.
- Get all the pieces of leather for both leather cuff projects. We will be making groove lines all the way around the main body. We will just do the long side of our straps. So, groove those pieces and then we will move to an edger or edge beveler.
- We will be using two different size edge bevelers. If you think of beveled glass, that is exactly what we are doing. We will be knocking off that hard top corner for the edge of our leather.
- For the 7 – 8 oz. leather, we will be using a Master Tool Edger #2 (1/16”)
- Bevel the topside and flip the blank over and bevel the backside. Note: the backside tends to be a little harder to bevel. This should make a nice, rounded edge when we are finished.
- For the 3 – 4 oz. leather, we will use a Master Tool Edger #1 (3/64”) because the leather is relatively thin.
- Now bevel all four sides on our main body and the sides on the straps. Since we are working with 3 – 4 oz. leather, we do not need to bevel the backside.
- Now clip the corners on the base piece.
Punching this leather project will add a nice detail. Use a ½” round end punch for a ½” strap.
- Use your pinky finger on the back end of the punch so you can feel the punch and the end of the strap. (Note: Do not put your finger on the sharp edge of the blade. It is very sharp and will cut you.)
- Once we feel the end of the strap, we will split the difference between the round hole and the end of the strap. Bring our punch in upright position and hit with the maul to cut a round end. Punch the ends of both ½” straps. Please watch video to clarify this process.
Button Stud or Sam Browne
- Let’s work on our Button Stud. The button stud will have 1/8” throat and it is a screw on, making it easy to add. We will need a hole with a small slit in the billet so that it will set down on the Sam Browne or Button Stud easily. We don’t want the hole too small, or it won’t seat, and we don’t want it too big because it won’t catch.
- Since the stud is 1/8”, on the revolving punch we will use the 4th tube up and punch the mark on our billet.
- Get our 5/8” round punch and punch as close as you can to the end where we have our Button Stud hole. That will give us a small tab to work with. Turn the billet around and punch the other end just like we did with the straps.
- This next step a little tricky because we want the stress of the button on the outside edge of the hole. So, on the inside of hole (not pointing to the outside) take a utility and make a small cut about 3/8” long in top of the hole, going in the direction of the other hole. Please watch video if confused.
- Go to chapter 4 to add our basketweave.
Chapter 4: Leather Cuff Bracelet -
We are working with the brown leather cuff in this chapter while we learn how to add a basketweave stamp.
We have only worked through two simple leather cuff designs. There is no limit to the number of possibilities when we think of what we have, to work with. We have 10 dye colors, multiple hardware colors, antiques, topcoats, spots, rivets and grommets from which to choose. We have a big empty canvas; all we need is to learn these techniques, and we can make what we love. So, let’s get started.
Setting a basketweave is relatively easy to do. We need for the leather area that we will be stamping to be clean and straight. We will use an anchor line to help keep our basketweave design straight.
How to use a Basketweave Stamp
- We will start with a standard basketweave stamp that has a little flower in the center. This stamp makes a very clean and tight impression where we can see every detail in the leather.
- We can practice on a 7 - 8 or 8 - 9 oz. veg tanned leather. We have ample room to create depth, but depth is not always the point with your tooling, cleanliness is. When we stamp on a 3 - 4 oz. veg tan leather, we need to be more delicate. Get the base leather for the Brown Leather Cuff and case (wet) the leather with water and a dressing sponge. Put enough water on the base leather to where it takes a second for the water to wick into the leather. Give the cased leather 5 minutes to set and start to dry.
- If we box in the basketweave design, it gives the cuff a very nice touch rather than running the design to the edges.
- We will make an anchor line. We have previously marked our box. Let’s take our square and line up the corner marks on the two short sides and using an awl make a line. Now move to the other side and do the same.
- Now, across the middle of the cuff base we have a center rivet hole on each side. We can use that to make our anchor line. So, between these two lines, let’s take our square and drop in an anchor line. Not too heavy on the pressure and the line will disappear.
- We will start right at the end of the anchor line where it meets the short line of the box that we just drew. The basketweave stamp tool has ¼” width. The anchor line is 4 ½” in length. When we over stamp the basketweave, we will come out just right. Make your first stamp, not too deep because with the thin leather it could create a tab that could eventually tear.
- Let’s flip our base leather around and you will be stamping on the opposite side of the anchor line from your first stamp. Line up the bar on the stamp with the previously stamped bar and the center anchor line and stamp, overlap a tiny bit. Please see the video if this is confusing.
- Next, flip your base around and repeat the same process above by overlapping the previous bar a tiny bit and your design will come out perfect at the end of the anchor line. Do this same process for a total of 4 rows. (2 rows below the anchor line and 2 rows above the anchor line).
- That finishes our basketweave design, but we talked about dropping in a swivel line border and we could drop in a camouflage tool border, but for this design, let’s just use an awl since we are working with small spaces.
- Using our square, we are going to draw the remaining two border lines with our awl. Typically, we would mark away from our stamped design in case we made a mistake so it would not cross our finished stamping. This design is an exception because we need to see the end of our lines. Let’s line up our square so that it is slightly above our basketweave, find the corner marks of our box and draw a line with our awl. Repeat on the other side of our stamping design so that there is a box (border) around our basketweave stamp design.
- Give this leather 3 to 4 hours to dry on a typical day.
- Move to Chapter 5 for the next process.
Chapter 5: Leather Cuff Bracelet -
Dyeing, Antiquing and Top Coating Leather
Dye Leather Cuff Bracelet
- We are now ready to dye our leather cuff projects. So far, we have seen that these leather processes are relatively easy and dyeing leather is the same. Adding dye does not need to be messy, time consuming or expensive. We are looking for easy application and consistent outcome. We will get both because we are going to only use one type of dye. It is the only type of dye Chuck Dorsett uses and he loves it. Check out Chuck’s lesson on dying leather here.
- We could apply leather dye in many ways. Airbrush is the best way to go, daubers are great and hold a lot of dye and the dressing sponge is a phenomenal way to dye leather. We are going to dip dye. It is super quick, easy and consistent and we can do that because we are using a Pro Dye, an alcohol-based dye, no powder involved. Pro Dye may sometimes be referred to as oil dye. Pro Dye has oils in the dyes and colorants that create the colors but the base of the dye is a solvent like standard leather dye.
- We should not dip dye leather with any other type of dye, particularly the water-based leather dye. Just use oil-based leather dye (Pro Dye) to dip dye leather.
- Pro tip: Dye rub-off is our biggest enemy, but if we use a Pro Dye, clean our edges, Gum Tragacanth our edges and add a good topcoat we will knock out 99% of the risk of rub-off. Chuck Dorsett’s opinion is that there is no perfect sealant for leather because we are going to get caught in the rain, in the summer we are going to sweat. If we use the right dye (oil-base dye), do our edge work, and add topcoat we will be successful.
- Let's dye leather. See our dyeing leather video for set up of a portable dye workstation and how to dye leather.
Pro tip: After we have finished dying leather, we can use a funnel to pour the dye back into the original container and use it for another project.
- We need to make a little hook out of a coat hanger, bailing wire, or whatever you have. Put the hook in the hole of the red cuff blank. Now, run the blank through our tub of Red Pro Dye (oil-dye), leaving each section in the dye about a second to make it even.
- Tap the leather on the inside edge of the dye tub to remove excess dye. Lay the dyed leather on some absorbent paper (cardboard or wrapping paper works great). Make sure you lay it down with the finished side up.
- Let that red blank leather cuff dry for 3 to 4 hours.
- Get the light brown oil dye ready to go. Dye all the brown leather cuff pieces using the same process as described above.
- All pieces now are dip dyed and we hardly have any mess on our gloves. After dried, we can see how consistent our colors are and that if we rub hard on the back of our project there is no rub-off on our glove. We get that kind of result with Pro Dye (oil leather dye).
- Pro tip:If we dye with an alcohol-based dye, our leather project will dry as stiff as a board. When we use an oil leather dye (Pro Dye, our project will dry as supple as it was before we dyed it.
- Now, let’s add some antique. It is very thick and dark. We don’t want leather antique on the back of our leather cuff main body or the back of our billet because they will be touching our skin. We will take some painter's tape and cover the back of the base cuff and the billet to protect it from the antique, then trim the tape. Antique is not runny like dye, so we won’t have wicking around the edge onto the back.
- Gloves on please because antique is messy. We will be using a wool dauber so we can work the antique into the stamps, groove lines and it will show off some of the natural blemishes of the leather which looks great.
- Use a Fiebing’s Medium Brown Antique Finish
- Pro Tip: Chuck Dorsett says he has had no luck with water-based leather antique but loves the Fiebing’s Antique Finish.
- Let’s wet our dauber with antique. We don’t want to go to heavy.
- Now start on the left end and work away from the not antiqued area. We will work our antique down into the stamps and groove lines.
- Then use an absorbent cloth to wipe the antique from the surface of the leather. It will stay down in the grooves and in the basketweave.
- Remember to put antique on the edges. We will also antique both of our straps and billet including the edges. Don’t forget to wipe all antiqued surfaces with a soft cloth to lift off excess antique. Let it dry. It will take about one hour.
- Pull all the painter’s tape off the back when the leather pieces have dried.
Adding Top Coat
- Start with our Red Leather Cuff Base. It looks a little flat, but topcoat will enrich the dye color. We will be using Atom Wax or Leather Balm with Atom Wax. This is Chuck Dorsett’s favorite Top Coat.
- No ventilation is required with Atom Wax. All we must do is rub it on and buff it off. We will use a wool dauber to apply it. Apply it sparingly and immediately take a cloth and wipe it off.
- You will see a little rub off color after this process. Grab a clean, dry cloth and buff the Red Leather Cuff. We will get a matte/gloss look and it will really enrich the red dye color.
- Now repeat the same process with the Brown Leather Cuff pieces. Put it on sparingly, but get it into all the grooves and stamps. Wipe off the excess and take a dry cloth and buff it as it starts to dry.
- We will notice at first that the finish goes flat, but as we keep buffing for 15 – 20 seconds, we can see the gloss start to happen. Finish buffing and let it dry.
- Pro tip: Remember we started with a light brown dye on the Brown Cuff Bracelet. Then we dropped in our Antique which darkened it. Then we dropped in our Leather Balm which darkened more. When we are thinking of a dye color as an end result, we have to keep that in mind.
Slicking Leather Edges
- Ok, it’s time to slick these Leather Cuff Bracelet edges. We will be using Gum Tragacanth which is thick, and it will help us because we don’t want it wrapping around on our top grain where we have already added Top Coat in the previous step.
- Go easy and work Gum Tragacanth all the way around our outer edges. Once our edges are covered, get your leather burnisher and find the groove that fits the best and slick the edges.
- If our leather is flimsy, we can lay it on the edge of our workbench and bring the groover up to the side and slick. This will give us a beautiful rounded glossed edge.
- Let’s take our Brown Leather Cuff pieces and do the same process as we did with the Red one above. We will be working with thinner leather, so we need to apply lighter pressure with our burnisher when we slick.
- We are ready to move to Chapter 6.
Chapter 6: Leather Cuff Bracelet -
We have been making two leather cuff bracelet designs. We see the culmination of our hard work and design. In this chapter, we will learn how to decorate our leather projects. We will be setting spots in this chapter, but it is only one avenue of decoration. Spots are great for any project. They are inexpensive, easy to add, and they look great.
HAND SPOT SETTER
Three ways to set spots on leather
- We can use a machine called the Master Tool Little Wonder. It is great for us crafters. It bolts on our table, and it will set all manner of rivets, eyelets, grommets and a whole lot of other things but we all don’t have one.
- Next, we can use a hand spot setter. This tool consists of a post and a throat, the post has a concave end. This tool is size specific. So, for example, if we are using 1/4” spots we need a ¼” setter. Let’s practice.
- Let’s take our spot and load it into the post leaving the tines sticking out a little bit.
- Make a mark with our awl on a piece of scrap leather then set that on another piece of scrap leather. That will give our tines room to move through the leather.
- Straddle that mark with the post and drop the post down flush over the mark. With our hand, hold the spot setter and put about 70% pressure on the throat and 30% pressure on the post.
- Use the rawhide mallet to pound the setter tool a couple of times. This will drive the spot into the leather, keeping the tines straight.
- The tines will be sticking out of the back of the leather so we will take the setter again and drop it on the back, hit the setter a couple of times. This will drop the tines down.
- This makes a pretty good set but when we run our finger over the back, we feel the tines and that will snag on something.
- Chuck recommends this process for setting a spot.
- Make a little cardboard pallet by taping a few layers of cardboard together with clear security tape.
- Put a scrap piece of leather on top of the cardboard pallet and mark the leather with an awl.
- Now grab a spot and straddle the awl mark on the leather and press down. That will give us two little tine marks.
- Take our craft knife and using the two tine holes make a small hole all the way through. Now take the spot and press it down into the two holes until it sets flush against the leather.
- Lay the piece of leather that now has the spot in it right-side up on the cardboard so you are looking at the spot head.
- Take our rawhide mallet and use a small amount of pressure and hit it twice to set it into the leather. The object is not to ding the spot.
- Flip over the leather and see the tines sticking out. Take the blunt end of the craft knife and push the tines in. It does not matter if you bend the tine inward or outward.
- Now lay the leather with tines down on your (marble or quartz) slab. Put the cardboard pallet over the spot head and pound it once with the rawhide mallet. The goal is not to ding the spot head but to set the tines so that they curl and don’t catch.
Setting Spots on our Leather Cuff Bracelets
- Let’s take the pieces of our leather cuffs top side up and lay our patterns on them. We are going to mark our spot placement with an awl.
- Remember that we set our spot marks at ¼” and our groove line at 1/8” in from our edge.
- When the spots are straddling the mark, it will put the tine right in the groove line. That will make the line of spots so clean and straight that it will look like it was set by a machine.
- So, let’s work our way down on our Red Leather Cuff Bracelet using step 3 in the previous procedure to set our spots. Reminder: Use the step that utilized a cardboard pallet and craft knife. We will use a nickel spot for the Red Leather Cuff. We will use a brass spot for the brown Leather Cuff.
- Now, let’s set our spots. You should end up with a straight, neat row of spots that looks very professional.
Note: There are some steps in leather crafting that are tedious and setting spots can be tedious. Just think if it takes us an hour to set the spots on our Red Leather Cuff and we wear it for 8 hours. We’ve enjoyed it 8 times the amount of time it took to make it.
MASTER TOOL LITTLE WONDER
Chapter 7: Leather Cuff Bracelet - Assembling Leather Cuffs
We’ve gone through many processes with our Leather Cuffs. We have rich and beautiful leather to work with, let’s put it all together.
Adding Rivets to Leather
- We will begin with adding our rivets. For the lighter leather we will use a ¼” Solid Brass Double Cap Rivet. Flip the Brown Leather Cuff over to the backside and put the post through each of the 4 corners.
- One thing about the double cap rivet is that it has a crimp in the post. The crimp allows us to snap the cap down without setting it. Also, our project isn’t falling apart and pieces rolling around.
- Now, flip the Brown Leather Cuff to the front side and push the two straps on either side of the Leather Cuff base utilizing the rivet posts. Notice the straps are standing up in the middle. That is how we planned it. When we bend this Leather Cuff around our wrist it doesn’t bind but lays flat.
- Next, we need to set our Button Stud Billet. Either side will work to add the billet strap. Drop in the rivet on the backside with post coming through the front side. Put the billet over the rivet you just added.
- Now let’s drop in all our rivet caps. Grab our rivet setter. The concave end is simply a post. Put it over the rivet cap and give it 2 good whacks with the rawhide mallet. Our goal is to keep the rivet setter as straight as possible over the rivet cap. Notice how the cap impressed down into the leather a little bit. Now set all the rivet caps.
Setting the Button Stud with Post
- Take our screw post and push it through from the back. Add a dab of Leathercraft Cement on the bottom of the button.
- Now screw the button on the post. We use glue because the button screw can work itself out over time.
- Our gorgeous brown leather cuff is ready to wear.
Setting Snaps & Finishing the Red Leather Cuff
- We will drop in Nickel Line 24 Snaps on our Red Leather Cuff. Line 24 snaps are a common size, easy to set and very durable. Pick out two males and two female Line 24 snaps. It does not matter which male goes with which female because they will work together.
Note: We need to pick a female snap that has the inside flange we will also pick a male back post that has a naked back as opposed to one with an exterior cap. This type of Line Snap is commonly used for applications such as this. See video if this part is confusing.
- We are about to add the 24-line snap to the middle of our Red Leather Cuff. On our quartz or marble slab, drop the Red Leather Cuff over the male naked back line snap. Make sure the snap is flat against the slab, because when we are finished it will be against our skin and we want it to sink into the leather. Put the female inside flange line snap over the male line snap post that is sticking through the Red Leather Cuff.
- Then, use a line 24 setter that is size specific, drop the setter in and on the post and give it two good shots with the rawhide mallet. We don’t want to hit the snap too hard because it could pull the flange in. Notice how the post rolled down easily in the snap. That is what we are looking for.
- Let’s move to the end of the Red Leather Cuff and add our other 24-line snap. We are using our male post with a rounded cap, and we don’t want to crush the cap. So, drop the cap in our anvil and with the finished side down, push the post through the hole at the end of the Red Leather Cuff. Take our other female piece and let’s set this snap. Place the setter over the post and keep straight, then whack it twice with the rawhide mallet. The post should have rolled around clean and even. Now bring the cuff around and snap it. What a beautiful Leather Cuff Bracelet and we did it ourselves.
- Now take the processes you have learned here and run with them, creating a beautiful leather cuff bracelet.