Introduction: Riveted Leather Camera Wrist Strap
For a long time I have been fighting the classic neck strap on my camera and I would often find myself wishing that I had a wrist strap instead- not enough strap to get in the way, but just enough for peace of mind if I accidentally drop the camera. However, I didn't want to spend a lot of money since I had a working neck strap, and I also wanted something that looked decent. This really left only one option- DIY!
Step 1: Materials & Tools
This project required very few materials, and you may already have most of them around the house. The tools required are also relatively common and should be readily available.
- 4 #12 1" Copper Rivets and Burrs -I had mine from a previous project- other sizes would work as well
- 1 Split ring - I used an extra split ring I grabbed off of a non working camera I had on display
- 1 1" D Ring (Note- choose a D Ring to match the width of your strap)
- Leather Strap- My strap was 1 inch wide and 23 inches long and was rescued from a bag that was headed for the garbage. You can purchase a leather strap, but I would get creative here. Look for old belts or straps on bags, or head to your local thrift shop and look around there. Chances are, you will be able to find a leather strap for cheap or free that will work for this project. Just make sure that it is long enough to make a usable wrist strap (Remember, you must have enough strap to make a loop around your wrist)
- Ball Peen Hammer
- Burr setter- You can purchase commercial versions, but my improvised version works great. And it was free.
- Drill and drill bit or appropriately sized leather punch
- Diagonal cutting pliers
- Small clamp
- Vise or other solid surface
Step 2: Size Your Strap
Start by making a loop you think you can slip your hand inside of. Make sure to leave a small "tail" which is where you will secure the strap to itself to create the loop using the rivets (mine was about 2 inches long). Use your small clamp to temporarily hold the loop in place. Try the loop on- slide it on and off you hand a few times to make sure it is comfortable to get on, but will not accidentally slide off, thus defeating the purpose of the wrist strap. Once you are happy with the size of your loop, mark your rivet placement. Make sure to keep in mind that the rivet closest to the loop is what is effectively making the correct sized loop- to make sure I placed this first rivet correctly, I noted where the edge of my clamp was and made a mark about 1/8th of an inch away from this (towards the strap, away from the loop). This ensured that I did not accidentally make my loop too small.
(Note: You may want to have some binder clips on hand to hold the strap together and keep it from slipping while you go on to the next step)
Step 3: Loop #2
Feed the other end of the strap into the D ring, then fold it back onto itself. This will make a small loop which holds the D ring in place. At this point, you will also want to experiment with different overall lengths for your wrist strap. Try clamping both loops in place and see if that length will work for you. Once you have found a good length, you can trim your strap to length.
To figure out the placement for the rivet, try pinching the strap together in a few spots. You don't want to place the rivet so close that the D ring interferes with the rivet. Once you have decided on placement, mark both rivet locations. Temporarily hold the strap in place with binder clips or a clamp.
Step 4: Create Holes for Rivets
Make sure that your loop is the correct size, and then clamp both layers of strap together onto a piece of sacrificial wood scrap. It is very important to make sure that your strap is lined up correctly and centered on itself in this step- you will be making the holes through two layers of strap at once, and so this is your last chance to make adjustments. Once you are satisfied that everything is in the correct location, drill holes for your your rivets on the locations you previously marked. Make sure you drill through both layers of the strap. I used a 1/8" drill bit for my #12 rivets- I held up the rivet to my drill bits and chose the bit which was closest in size to the diameter of the rivet. If you make too big of a hole, you may get a sloppy fit, but if the hole is too small, you may have a hard time inserting the rivets. Once you have drilled your holes for one loop, repeat the process again for the loop on the other end of the strap.
Step 5: Insert Rivets
Now that your holes have been drilled, insert one rivet into each pair of holes. Don't forget to slip your D ring into its loop before inserting the rivets for the small loop.
Step 6: Set Burrs
Now you we are going to set a burr onto each rivet. The burr is a small washer with a lightly smaller inner diameter than the shank (post) of the rivet. This helps to hold the pieces of leather together once the burr is forced down the shank of the rivet, but it also makes it impossible to do without some help. Burr setting tools can be purchased, but I never bought one. Instead, I drilled a hole with a slightly larger diameter than the shank of the rivet into a block of maple. To set the burr, I place a burr over the hole, line up a rivet, and then tap on the head of the rivet until the burr is forced snug to the leather. Repeat until one burr is set on each rivet.
Note: Once you go on to the next step, your two layers will not get any tighter together. This step determines how snug the layers are. If you feel that there is too much play between the layers, set the burrs more firmly on the rivets until you are happy with the union.
Step 7: Trim Rivets and Peen Away!
At this point, the shank of the rivet is too long. Trim each shank to about 1/8" above the burr using an appropriate tool (I used diagonal cutting pliers). If you choose to, you can then file the cut edge slightly to get a smooth top to the shank. I skipped this, and my rivets turned out fine (for me). Now on to peening! Our goal is to widen the exposed portion of the shank so that the burr remains in place. We will do this by hitting the shank (relatively) lightly in a repeated manner. Make sure that you are working on a strong, sturdy surface. I used the anvil portion of my bench vise. As you hit the center top of the shank, you will notice that it begins to mushroom out. Once it has widened out and started to flatten, you can begin to shape the exposed shank into dome shape by hitting the shank off center and at different angles. This is both for aesthetics and so that the rivet does not snag. Repeat this step for each rivet.
Step 8: Finishing Touches!
All that is left is to attach your split ring to your D-ring and then attach it all to your camera!
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