Introduction: Handmade Leather Belt and Belt Buckle (From Scratch)
No prior sewing or blacksmithing knowledge required, because there won't be any sewing or heating of metal (unless you're a pro and want to make it more intricate).
A very simple way to show off your craftsmanship to those around you, and therefore a great incentive to tuck your shirt in.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials/Tools
- Long Leather Strip
(If you're having trouble finding a long piece of leather, Hobby Lobby sells a belt making kit. But we're not going to use all the added stuff in Hobby Lobby's kit. We're starting from scratch, so we're only going to use the long piece.)
- Strong Scissors
(Able to cut leather. I used 18 gauge shears, but that's overkill. Just be sure they can cut leather.)
- Steel/Brass/Copper Rod
(Ensure that it's as thick as you want your buckle to be. It can be whatever metal you want.)
(I used GorillaGlue Epoxy)
(A ball peen hammer is preferred, but not mandatory)
- Vice/End of a strong table
- Anvil/Strong Table/Or the surface of the Vice
(Basically a nice hard surface for hammering your buckle)
- Chicago Screws
(If you really don't want to rivet)
- Leather Stain
(I used Fiebing's Low Voc Dark Brown Leather Dye)
- Leather Conditioner
(I used Fiebing's 4 Way Care Leather Conditioner)
Step 2: Cut Out Belt From Leather With the Templates
I have provided the templates for the ends of the leather strip. But between the ends, add whatever length you desire, whatever size you may be.
Trace the templates onto the leather and cut out your belt and belt loop piece. Drill or poke holes where there are holes.
Step 3: Optional.) Stain Leather Pieces
You can stain your belt of you wish. I only gave mine one coat because I like how the light coat makes it look. But if you want a uniform color, then give it as many coats as you'd like.
Step 4: Optional.) Condition Leather Pieces
You can condition your belt if you wish. It will strengthen the leather and give it a nice gleam.
Don't forget to coat the back. It will protect it from wearing out.
NOTE.) If you used a light color stain, it may darken your color.
Step 5: Bend the Buckle Into Shape
With your steel/brass/copper rod, bend/hammer it into a square/circle/heptagon/whatever belt shape you want.
Be sure that the ends completely meet each other; no gaps.
Then get a short piece of rod, and slightly flatten it. Place it in the vice and start hammering it into a curved shape. And when it's just about complete, put the square into the "hook", and complete the job by closing the gap; Therefore enclosing the square, attaching the needle piece to it.
Step 6: Sand the Buckle
Use sandpaper to sand the buckle.
If you have belt sander or a grinder, you can do a deeper job. I wanted to keep mine rustic looking, so I only slightly sanded it. But if you want it to be smooth, then grind/sand it until you're happy.
For extra protection, you can coat it in some clear coat spray paint. But it should be fine if it's stainless steel.
Step 7: Attach the Buckle to the Belt
Loop the buckle needle through the main belt hole.
Even though we will rivet the belt flap closed in the next step, a little bit of epoxy never hurts.
Step 8: Rivet the Belt
Get a 1/2" or 1/3" piece of steel/copper/brass rod, and use your hammer to rivet the ends to 'mushroom' over the sides.
Copper/Brass rivets are MUCH easier than steel rivets.
If you get frustrated and really don't want to rivet it, you can use 'Chicago screws'. Look it up and you'll understand why that would be an easier route.
I just riveted mine because I wanted to hand make everything, and aesthetically it fits the theme of the belt I made.
NOTE.) Try to make the rivet match the metal of the buckle. If you made a brass buckle, use a brass rivet. It just looks better. But you can alternate if you really want to.
Step 9: Cut As Many Holes As You Need
Try it on, and see how many holes you'll need. Drill out the holes.
I'd suggest adding one last coat of leather conditioner after this.
Step 10: Wear Your Belt
If you have gotten to this point, you are finished. You may now wear your belt in public. I have worn mine on a daily basis for a while, and it is quite durable. It still looks great.
The greatest benefit is the feeling of satisfaction and self sufficiency resulting from using something that you made with your own hands.