I am an international student currently studying in China, and a die-hard metal head. Being a metal head in a conservative place such as China means that I have to be a lot more creative with making accessories for myself, such as spike cuffs, band t-shirts, and so on. So I have to get very creative with a limited range of supplies (and a limited Chinese vocabulary), and I think that has honed my creative skills for the greater good, despite the countless number of times I've superglued my fingers together while making things. ;)
Here I will show you how to make a leather spike cuff from scratch, using leather and some studs that you might have lying around.
Step 1: Things You Will Need
- Thick Leather, any color you like (either ask for scraps from your local leather shoesmith, rip up an old leather bag, use leather sofa samples, or simply buy some online. The leather I used was 1.2mm, but I still double-layered the cuff)
- Studs and/or spikes (I bought mine online, you do not have to use the same design as mine, feel free to come up with your own!)
- Needle and strong thread (make sure your needle is strong and not too flimsy, it is hard to push the needle through the thick leather)
- Snap Buttons (mine are sew-on snap buttons, cause I had a lot of trouble with the ones that you had to hammer in)
- Scissors (You need VERY, VERY SHARP ones if you want to cut leather in a straight, clean line. It is best to use a new pair, or one that is reserved for cutting leather and fabrics)
- Pliers (for bending back the prongs on the studs)
- Large thick leather needle (I am not sure of the proper name for this, but I know that it is very useful for poking holes through leather)
- Razor or craft knife (for scoring a line on your leather and when you need to trim little bits of leather)
- Screwdriver (for helping to affix the spikes)
- Superglue (for gluing the leather together)
- Ruler (not pictured, but you will need this for drawing and scoring straight lines)
- Gel ink pen (not pictured, for marking on your leather, make sure you can rub this off the leather!)
A WARNING ABOUT SUPERGLUE: Please use a good quality brand of superglue. In the picture I've attached are two brands of superglue that I tried using. The cheap Chinese brand exploded and leaked all over my fingers when I gingerly squeezed it out on some leather scraps and it was absolute heck to get off. For the sake of your fingers, please use a good brand of superglue. The skin on your fingers will thank you for this. It is not good to get superglue on your fingers, and when trying to get it off you might rip off the skin on your hands in the process (trust me, I know...)
That being said, accidents do happen. If you do get superglue on your hands, pour acetone-based nail polish remover over the affected areas âimmediately. Your fingers will be unstuck, but there will still be dried superglue residue on your skin. Be very careful when scraping this off, try not to take your skin away with it. Keep pouring nail polish remover.
Do not use cotton swabs to wipe it off. Superglue and cotton do not mix together and they can react and heat up.
Be careful with the razor, and if you use a bare one like I did, wrap the end up in lots of tape to protect your skin from the sharp and narrow edges.
Step 2: How the Spiked Cuff Is Laid Out
There are two layers to this spike cuff, the top layer, which you can see, and the bottom one. These two layers are superglued together to add strength and durability to the cuff. It is attached by snap buttons which are sewn on. The pronged studs and male half of snap button are attached to the top layer, and the female half of the snap button and the screw of the spikes go through the bottom layer.
Why two layers? And why this odd attachment of studs and buttons and two layers of leather?
This is to give the spike cuff a seamless look, so that the pattern of studs and spikes flow together without an awkward button in the way. Where the female half of the snap button is, above it is a stud. When the cuff is worn you will not see any buttons, just the studs.
The studs are attached to the top layer because the prongs were not long enough to go through to the bottom layer. Likewise, the spikes go through both layers because the screws were too long to go through just one layer. It was more snug with two layers of leather instead.
Step 3: Cut the Leather Strip
With a gel ink pen (make sure you can rub this off the leather later!) and a ruler, draw the outline of your cuff lightly on the shiny side of the leather with your measurements.
I made this for my friend Jean, so I used his measurements.
Place the ruler on the lines you drew, and use your razor or craft knife to score along the lines. Make sure your blade is perpendicular and cutting the leather at a 90 degree angle. You do not want to end up with a cuff with slanted, scruffy edges.
Then use your scissors to cut the leather out, again making sure to cut at a 90 degree angle, and cut out along the scored lines.
It is vital you make the edges of your leather straight and at 90 degrees. It would look very awkward later when you glue it on the other piece of leather and the edges aren't matching up. This is why I scored the lines with a razor first, partially cutting straight through the leather makes it easier for my scissors to follow a straight line.
(Also, in the background you can see a thin wristband with stars on it. With that wristband I cut the edges only with scissors, and ended up with a wonky, wiggly side. :( Not very professional looking...)
Step 4: Figure Out the Layout of Your Spikes
Have your snap buttons ready for the next step.
Step 5: Attaching the Button
Mark the placement of the button carefully.
Now, with your needle, make holes on the markings. This is to help with ease of sewing later. The leather is hard to push a needle through. I recommend you use pliers to help you pull the needle through (be careful not to pull it to hard and poke yourself in the eye though) or use a thimble to protect your thumbs.
Sew the button. I will have another Instructable later that will explain the details of how I sew the buttons. But it's really simple. Make stitches through the holes and to the leather. Go over your stitches again for added strength. The button is the most stressed part of the cuff and will go through a lot of wear and tear, so it pays off to have sewn with strong thread and with strong, durable stitches.
Step 6: Marking the Placements of Your Spikes
Mark the placement of your studs. I marked the placement of the studs by lightly pressing them pronged-side down on the leather, so that the prongs leave a little indent. Then I used my pen to go over that indent as a guide for me to arrange them later.
Now we will prep the spikes and make holes for the screws. Mark where your spikes will go and the hole for where the screw will come through the leather and attach to the spike.
Step 7: Punching Holes and Checking the Fit of the Screws
Then put the screws through the holes. Use the needle to make the hole bigger if you must, but try not to be too forceful and rip the leather. This is so that you can check that the holes you have made are big enough for the screws.
Step 8: Attaching Pronged Studs
Place the studs on the markings you have made earlier. Press the stud through the leather. Be careful of the points of the prongs, they can cut skin if you are too rough with them. Then, using something with a hard, flat edge, bend back the prongs under the leather back in on itself. The points of the prongs should now be embedded into the leather.
For the next step, remove the screws. Keep the studs on. You are going to glue the whole thing down on another piece of leather.
Step 9: Glue the Leather Strip on Another Piece of Leather
Glue everything, but DO NOT GLUE THE END OF THE LEATHER STRIP WHERE THE STUDS END. You may glue the end of the strip where the male snap button is, but do not glue the opposite end! You will sew the female snap button to the underlying leather strip, so please do not glue this area. Refer to the pictures to see where I am talking about if you are not sure.
Hold the edges together with binder clips while it dries. Bear in mind that the binder clips may leave an indent in the leather if left for too long, though.
Step 10: Poking Holes and Attaching Screws Through the Bottom Layer of Leather
When putting the screws in, don't just push them in, make a twisting motion with them so that it goes into the holes snugly.
Step 11: Cut the Leather Strip Out
Be very careful not to cut through the top layer of leather as you are cutting.
Step 12: Marking the Placement of the Female Snap Button
Affix the female snap button temporarily to the male one. Fold the whole cuff over into a circle, with the end that you have not glued over the buttons. Make sure the overlapped edges line up nicely. Press the point of the buttons into the leather - hard. This is so you make a visible indent in the leather so you can have an easier time attaching the female button accurately. Then before the indent fades, mark it with your pen. The pictures can explain better than I can, please refer to them if you are not sure.
If you don't do this and simply sew the buttons anyhow, you will end up with a cuff that does not overlap properly, with one edge partially overlapping the other and the rest sticking out over your wrist.
Step 13: Sew the Female Half of Button on and Glue the Leather Above It
When the button is firmly sewn in place, glue the edges of the leather down around it. Hold in place with binder clips.
Step 14: Fine-tuning the Edges
It is worth noting that superglue makes the fuzzy side of the leather really hard and scratchy and dark, so try not to get it there. The fuzzy side of the leather will very quickly soak the superglue up, so it is best to place glue on the shiny side of the leather.
You can use a razor to trim down the edges if they are not quite lined up properly.
Step 15: Adding the Spikes
Step 16: Done! Wear Your Cuff!
This was the first spike cuff I handmade myself, and when I was done I kept it on the whole day not wanting to take it off. :D But I made this as a gift for my friend Jean, for his birthday, so I gave it to him. He seemed to like it, so that was satisfaction enough. :D
Hopefully anybody who wishes to make a spiked cuff out of simple materials and methods can learn from my tutorial. :) If you do make one of your own, please post a photograph, I would love to see how yours turned out. :D
Now looking back, perhaps to improve the design of the cuff, perhaps you could use a heavy-duty sewing machine to make decorative stitching around the edges, and perhaps buff the edges of the leather. I would have done this if I could, but I don't have a sewing machine and I do not know how to buff leather edges. Maybe another time. :D
Thank you for taking the time to read this! Comments would be very much appreciated!