When doing leatherworking, it's common to run across patterns that involve folding or flaps. In this instructable I'll show you a couple of techniques I use to get nice folds into leather!
The crispness of the fold depends entirely on how thick the leather is - but you can still get a nice graceful curve in thicker leather. :)
These techniques are all done without gouging or grooving the leather, so your pieces will stand up better to wear and tear. Also: this is best done on plain tanned leather - make your fold before you dye if you can. While some dyes will do just fine when water is applied, some dyes sit right at the surface and can be affected by excess moisture, so it's better to be safe than sorry!
Check out my other leather ibles for more leatherworking basics:
Step 1: What You'll Need:
- bone folder
- spray bottle or damp sponge
- paper towels
- rubber mallet (optional)
For most basic folds, all you really need is water, paper towels and clamps. Easy!
Step 2: Wet the Leather
Wetting the leather first will allow it to make the bend easier.
Don't soak the leather - just dampen the fold line on both sides of the leather. I like to use a tiny spray bottle for this, but you can also use a damp sponge.
Step 3: Fold and Clamp
Once the fold line has been dampened - fold it over carefully to the right spot. This part is especially important, so measure twice and make sure it looks right.
Fold up a paper towel and double it over the dampened edge and then clamp. This will soak up excess moisture and keep the clamps from damaging the leather.
Leave it clamped for a few minutes to dry - when you remove the clamps it should keep its shape. If not, try repeating the process. :)
Step 4: OR Hammer Time!
For some leathers, you might be able to get away with dampening the leather, folding it over and giving it a good few smacks with a mallet.
I had better results with thicker leather with this technique. It didn't make a huge difference in thin and more malleable leathers.
Step 5: Using a Bone Folder
For really thin leathers, a bone folder can be enough to make a nice crease for folding! It can also help to create a line for the fold on thicker pieces of leather, but it worked best on thin chrome tanned leather.
It looks nicest when you do the creasing on the inside of the fold, but you could also crease the outside if you want an accent line on the fold. Have a look at the third picture to see how the bone folder will affect the leather.
I recommend laying down a ruler and using the edge of it to make sure you're creasing in a straight line. Apply strong, even pressure and run the bone folder over the leather a couple times. You don't necessarily need to dampen the leather, but if creasing dry doesn't give good results, it couldn't hurt to try it out!