Instructables

Repair a leather luggage handle

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Picture of Repair a leather luggage handle
Don't you hate it when this happens?  You reach down to lift your favorite vintage suitcase, amplifier, musical instrument case, or (as in this particular example) portable Victrola case, and suddenly, half your leather handle rips apart. 

Which this happens, you generally have limited choices for repair:  (1) you can try to find a modern leather reproduction (and pay very high prices!), or (2) try to fit a modern plastic handle on the case (which never quite looks right, or fits the existing holes), or (3) you don't replace the handle and from this point on carry your case much like you would carry a sack of cement (with two hands).

This instructable is about a 4th option, which is repairing the handle you already have.
 
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Step 1: The problem with leather handles

Picture of The problem with leather handles
Most vintage leather handles are comprised of a strip of heavy leather than holds the weight of the case, some sort of padding (usually leather), and a leather cover.

The strip of leather that attaches the handle to the d-rings can carry a lot of weight, and over time the leather fibers begin to deteriorate until the leather tears, as shown in the photo. 

Step 2: Take apart the handle

When the outside cover of the handle is removed, the internal parts look like what you see in this photo.  I've arranged the handle parts in the order that they are inside of the handle covering.  Three thick pieces of leather comprise the padding in this particular handle, with the load bearing strap (with the torn end) sandwiched between the leather padding.

At the top of the photo is what remained of the thin leather cover from the outside of this handle.
Phil B2 years ago
Very nicely done. Back in the late 1960s and very early 1970s I was going to school in St. Louis. One of my favorite hangouts was any of the several Central Hardware stores. They had everything "from scoop to nuts." One thing they had was these handles as replacements. I think the prices were quite reasonable then.

knife141 (author)  Phil B2 years ago
Thanks, Phil. I used to be able to buy these at the Elliot's Hardware store in Dallas back in the '70's, but in recent years the only place I've found them is on the internet at reproduction hardware sites, and they've gotten very pricy.
scoochmaroo2 years ago
Wow, really well done. Most people would resort to rope or just scrap it all together. I love that you've documented how to repair this and give the case a whole new life again. This kind of thing is what we all need to be learning!
knife141 (author)  scoochmaroo2 years ago
Thanks again for your nice words. I was going to wait until a cold winter day to fix this thing, but decided cold weather is still a long way off in Texas!