Introduction: DIY Leather Document Wallet

About: I am a Mechanical Engineer who loves to design and build things. I'm always working on new and fun projects.

Do you have a set of documents you want to keep safe but still have a way to show them off that looks great?

Perhaps you'd like a simple Leather Document Wallet.

I made this wallet to be a replica of the one seen on the TV show Firefly which contained all the ship's documentation, but it can be used to hold any documents.

What's better is it's nice and easy to make and looks great, let's get started.

Here's what you will need:

- Approx 20" x 9" piece of vegtan leather

- Pattern (included in the instructable)

- Exacto knife or leather shears

- Edge Beveler

- Light Brown Leather Dye

- Cotton Daubers or cloth

- Tan Kote (or other) leather coating

- Disposable Vinyl Gloves

- Burnishing tool

- Plastic bowl

- Sponge

- Leather hole punch

- Poly Mallet

- 3x Line 24 snaps with 5/16" posts

- Setting tool + Anvil

- 3" x 1" x 1/8" thick brass plate

- 0.1" & 0.2" drill bits

- Drill

- 1/4" brass chicago screws

- Paper hole punch

- Screwdriver

Step 1: Layout the Design and Cut It Out

This design is meant to allow for 2 fold lines folding your document into 3 pieces for an 8.5" x 14" (legal) size page.

Or there will be one fold like in your document for an 8.5" x 11" (letter) size page.

Template is provided in the photos.

- Cut out the pattern 19 1/4" long and 9" wide

- Use an edge beveler to bevel the outer edge of the leather on both sides.

Now we are all ready to start the dying.

Step 2: Dying, Burnishing and Coating

You will want to dye both sides of the leather.

They will not be the same color when finished, this is normal.

Make sure to wear disposable vinyl gloves or you will stain your fingers.

- Spread the dye evenly over the piece, one side at a time, in small patches. Since this piece is rather large, I would suggest using a rag or large cotten daubers.

- Repeat until you have stained the whole wallet.

- Repeat if the dye isn't dark enough to your liking.

- Make sure to dye the edge as well.


- Fill a plastic bowl with water

- Using a sponge, wet the edge of the leather in a small area (be careful not to wet the fresh dye on the sides too much.

- Using a burnishing tool, rub back and forth along the edge vigorously until the edge turns dark and looks sealed.

- Repeat along the edge until the entire edge is burnished.

Step 3: Hardware (Snaps)

- Start by measuring out and marking the intended positions for the top halves of the snaps. (For the lid)

- Punch out 3 x 5/16" holes using your punch with a soft material you don't mind marking like a poundo board or soft wood underneath.

- Fold up the wallet and mark off where the holes you just made will match up with the backing for the bottom half of the snaps.

- Punch out 3 holes here as well of the same size.

- Using the setting tool, and anvil for the snap, set the snap in place by hammering on the setting tool. Make sure the top cap is on the outside of the leather as shown in the photo.

- Set the bottom halves making sure the post is on the outside of the leather as shown in the photo.

Congrats, the leather portions are complete. Now to hold the documents in place.

Step 4: Holding Bar Installation

- Take your 3" x 1" Brass plate and drill equal distance from the ends. Start with a center drill, then a drill of half the diameter (0.1"), then a drill of the full size (0.2").

- Center the brass plate where you'd like the top of your page to be, and mark the hole locations with a pencil.

- Punch the holes with a 1/4" punch

- Install chicago screws to the plate and wallet and your finished.

Step 5: Prepping the Documents

- Remove the chicago screws and the plate, and position your page inside the wallet where you would like it to sit when finished.

- Use the holes from the chicago screws to mark the position onto the paper.

- Using a paper hole punch, punch all your papers with the appropriate spot for the chicago screws.

Step 6: Final Assembly and Showcase.

- Put the chicago screws back in place (shaft end through the leather), then attach all the papers lining up the holes in the pages with the chicago screw shafts.

- Reattach the brass plate.

- Reattach the other half of the chicago screws

Congrats you have made a beautiful document wallet to showcase your documents, whatever they might be :)

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Makerspace Contest

Third Prize in the
Makerspace Contest