Old School Leather Company

Old School Leather Company

learn how to make your own handmade leather belts

   
 

Below you will find tips on how to tool, dye, and finish your own handmade leather belts. These are the same methods used to make the handmade leather belts you can find for sale at our web site. Our techniques are basically the same as those used by my parents in the 1970s. The lesson begins after the belt strip has been cut and the edges have been finished.

 

Our finished belt shown in the belt making process below will be 1.5" wide with a handtooled geometric pattern. After the belt strip is cut and sized, we begin by wetting the leather with a sponge. The water softens the leather, and makes the leather belt tooling process easier. Because the design runs down the center of the belt, we draw a faint guideline down the belt center. Next the tooling begins...

 
 

Once the belt is tooled, we condition the leather to prepare it for the leather dye. We "block dye" the leather using penetrating oil based dyes. To block dye, wrap a few layers of soft cloth around a block of wood. This method works the dye into the leather grain, but prevents the dye from seeping into the tooled impression...

     
 

The picture to the left shows block dyed leather belts. The dye color is Fiebing's Mahogany oil based leather dye. However, the color transition is not yet complete. Next, we apply a thing coat of Fiebing's Leather Balm with Atom Wax. The leather balm helps to seal the leather grain, but leaves the tooled impression vulnerable to the Antique Leather Stain that will be applied in the next step...

 

Next we apply Fiebing's Antique Leather Stain. For this belt, we use black, but the stain is available in many colors. We use a wool dauber to apply the stain. After the stain is set, we use a damp sponge to wipe the excess off the surface of the leather belt. Finally, a dry, soft cloth is used to buff the belt and to ensure that the finish is spread evenly. For those of you who do not already know, the antique stain is messy. If you want to keep the back of the belt "clean", keep a clean rag on hand an wipe up any excess stain immediately.

   
    After applying the antique leather stain, we apply a second coat of leather balm and buff the finish to a brilliant shine. Next, the belt ends are burnished and dyed to match the edges. Then, the belt is punched so that the buckle can be attached and secured. Our leather belts fold and snap where the buckle attaches. The picture at left shows how we skive (thin) the belt where the buckle attaches so that it is not bulky at the point where the leather is doubled over. We use a bench top skiver, but an inexpensive handtool is available for this job. Check our links to Leather Supples
 

Well the finished product not only looks good, but will perform well for many years to come. If you would like to buy our finished leather goods, visit www.oldschoolleather.com If you wish to do it yourself, visit our sources for leather tools, hardware, and other supplies.

See and order our handmade leather goods

Order our handmade leather belts

Links to or favorite Leather Suppliers