Introduction: Leather Hardware: Rings

Picture of Leather Hardware: Rings

Choosing the right kind of hardware has a huge effect on the look of your project. Different metal finishes, shapes and styles can give the same design very different aesthetics. Hardware can be both decorative and functional. Some people love hardware-heavy designs while others prefer a more minimal look. Either way, it's good to know what your options are when it comes to leather hardware.

Rings and swivel snaps are among of the most basic types of hardware you can use. They are like the joints of a leather project, acting as points of attachment but also allowing for mobility between elements of a design. They are often used where straps connect to bags, or to create a fork in a strap. They come in many styles which create different aesthetics and can be useful for different applications.

In this lesson I'll show you some of the most common options for rings and swivel snaps, and how to attach them. Then we'll use some of them on our bag design.

In this lesson I'll be using:

  • If you're making the small bag: two 3/4" D rings
  • If you're making the large bag: two 1" D rings
  • rapid rivets and matching setter
  • line 20 snaps and matching setter
  • rotary and manual hole punches
  • mallet
  • hammer
  • poundo board and quartz slab
  • mini anvil
  • wire cutters
  • scrap leather
  • the bag you've been constructing
  • any other hardware you want to experiment with or add to your project

  • D and O Rings

    Picture of D and O Rings

    O Rings

    The most basic kind of ring, O rings are just a circular ring, most often welded together for strength. They are usually attached by looping one or more straps around the ring, which are riveted or sewn to themselves. The rest of the ring can then be a point of attachment for other hardware or straps. O rings allow a lot of movement because straps and other elements connected to them can swivel freely all the way around the ring.

    D Rings

    D rings are shaped like a D with one flat side and one curved side. They are usually attached by looping a strap around the straight side and riveting or sewing it to itself. Then another strap or piece of hardware such as a clip, can be attached to the curved side. D Rings provide less movement because whatever is attached to the flat side can't swivel as freely around the whole ring.


    Gate Rings

    Picture of Gate Rings

    Gate Rings

    Gate rings are round rings that have a swinging latch built in much like a carabiner (but not nearly as strong, so don't take one rock climbing :). Gate rings can serve as both a clip and a ring that lets you attach a strap in a very modular way. They can be very easy to lose however because there is nothing to hold them in place when they're open.


    Swivel Snaps

    Picture of Swivel Snaps

    Swivel Snaps

    Swivel snaps have a spring latching mechanism that swivels in relation to point of attachment for a strap. Unlike a gate ring, a swivel snap won't get lost when it's open because it will always remain attached to the strap on one side. Swivel snaps are often used in conjunction with O or D rings to attach straps.


    Rings Quiz

    {
        "id": "quiz-1",
        "question": "Rings can act like the ____ in a leather project.",
        "answers": [
            {
                "title": "tendons",
                "correct": false
            },
            {
                "title": "bones",
                "correct": false
            },
    	{
                "title": "joints",
                "correct": true
            }
        ],
        "correctNotice": "Yes! Rings connect different pieces together while still allowing movement.",
        "incorrectNotice": "Nope, try again."
    }
    
    {
        "id": "quiz-2",
        "question": "True or False: Gate rings are easy to lose.",
        "answers": [
            {
                "title": "true",
                "correct": true
            },
            {
                "title": "false",
                "correct": false
            }
        ],
        "correctNotice": "True! Gate rings are not the most secure method of attachment.",
        "incorrectNotice": "Nope.  It's the other one."
    }
    
    {
        "id": "quiz-3",
        "question": "To attach a ring to a strap you should:",
        "answers": [
            {
                "title": "use rivets",
                "correct": false
            },
            {
                "title": "sew the strap",
                "correct": false
            },
    	{
                "title": "both are good options",
                "correct": true
            }
        ],
        "correctNotice": "Good work! That's right.",
        "incorrectNotice": "Nope, think bigger."
    }
    

    Add D Rings to the Small Bag

    Picture of Add D Rings to the Small Bag

    Now to let's add the D rings you've chosen for your bag. You could also use O rings or swivel snaps here, but I think D rings look nicer.

    To do this on the small bag, just take your two D rings and attach them to the strap loops at the top of the bag. Slip the D rings onto the straps and then rivet the straps onto themselves with quick set rivets, a rivet setter and mallet.


    Add D Rings to the Large Bag

    Picture of Add D Rings to the Large Bag

    I added D rings to my large bag in a slightly different way. On a bag like this that is going to hang from a shoulder strap as a purse, it's better to have the strap attachment on the sides so the weight of the bag is balanced and hangs straight down. Therefore, in this case, I attached the D rings by riveting leather loops onto the gusset of the bag rather than sewing these loops into the back seam as I did with the small bag.

    I punched a hole just below the edge binding on the sides of the purse, and two corresponding holes in the leather strip that will form the loop.

    I situated each leather loop with one end on the inside of the bag and one end on the outside, and then slipped the D rings onto the leather loops. I inserted a medium rivet through all three layers, and then riveted the loops to the edges of the bag with my setting tool and mini anvil.


    Add a Snap to the Pocket

    Picture of Add a Snap to the Pocket

    Last, we are going to go back to a skill we learned earlier, and add a snap closure to the front pocket of the bag. I actually only did this on my small bag, because the braided strap on the large bag keeps the pocket from opening too far, but you can add one there too if you want.

    On the small bag I used line 20 snaps and their corresponding snap setter and attached them through the holes I had already punched in the leather.

    Sometimes when you are working with relatively thin leather, the posts of your snaps will be a bit too long and they won't attach right when you try to set them. A good trick here is to make a leather "washer" by cutting a small circle of leather and punching a hole it it. You can slip this over the post of the snap before you set it, and it will make your leather the right thickness for the snap!

    When you set the back section of this snap, you are going to have to put the metal rivet setting base inside the bag to create a base to punch on. This is something you have to do relatively often when you are adding hardware to an already assembled piece, and the rivet setting base and mini anvil can come in very handy at times like these.

    It would probably have been more efficient to add the snap before the bag was assembled, but for the flow of this class it made sense to add it now. This is a good example of what I mentioned in lesson 8 about how the order of operations for assembling a project can vary.


    What We Learned

    After this lesson, you should have a good idea when it can be useful to include rings in a leather project and what kind of ring options are available. When we add straps to our bag project at the end of the last lesson, you'll get to see a few more use-cases for rings and how they can come in handy for connecting things.

    In the next lesson we'll look some other important pieces of hardware, buckles and clasps.


    How's Your Project Going?

    If you have any problems as you construct your bag, feel free to ask questions in the discussion section below.

    CLASS PROJECT

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