Introduction: Full Grain Leather Belts

About: Whatever you do take care of your shoes
In this instructable I'll show you the basics of belt making.  A few specialized tools are used but you can get away without some of them if you're creative.  If you are on this site, you probably are.  So have at it!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials
-Leather- I usually use 8 to 10 oz. full grain vegetable tanned leather for my belts. ( tandyleatherfactory.com ) You can also buy pre-cut belt blanks if you don't want to buy a whole side of leather.  If you are going to make a ton of belts buy a side.  If only one, buy a blank.

-Leather dye
-Buckle  (This one is 1 1/4" solid brass, nickel plated garrison buckle from buckleguy.com )
-2 rivets
-Thread (optional for embellishments )
-Edge paint ( also optional.  If you buff edge really good you can just dye it )


Tools (from left to right)
-Hammer
-knife- snap off utility knifes are great
-3/16" hole punch
-Stitching groover (not totally necessary but cool for putting decorative or stitching grooves in)
-Edge beveler ( You can just sand the edge if your a cheapskate )
-Wing divider ( you can skip this too if your just doing a bit of leather work.  Used to mark the tongue holes)
-Scratch awl ( Use whatever pointy thing to mark stuff on leather )
-Sand paper

(not shown)
-gloves ( for dyeing )
-straight edge

Step 2: Cut Belt Blank

If you bought a hide you need to first cut a straight edge on it.  Kind of difficult if you don't have much room.  Use the side that runs along the spine of the cow.

Then measure the inside width of your buckle.  They usually come in 1/4" increments.  Mine here is 1 1/4"  Don't make it to snug or your belt will squeak and be difficult to buckle.

Cut to width with your straight edge or if you have a strap cutter use that (they're pretty sweet to use)

Figure out what side of your blank has the tightest grain,  it will be denser.  This is your butt end and should be the side you use for the belt tip.  Cut the tip in the style you want.  Mine here is an english point.  I have a punch for my wider belts but since this is a woman's belt it's a little narrower. 


Step 3: Mark Holes and Cut to Length

Some of my pics are out of order as far as what has been done at what point.

Most belts have five holes to buckle your... well... buckle.  They are about 3/4" apart with 2 to 3 inches to tip of last hole.
The middle hole is your target hole for length.  If you have a belt that fits well, use it to get the length.  If not measure your waist than measure from middle hole to about 3/4 past center of buckle slot.  (where the 5 is on 2nd pic)

Mark out your holes for the slot and for the rivets and punch 'em out.

Step 4: Add Your Logo

Here I made a stamp using a big honking nail and a Dremel with a cut off disk to make my armadillo logo.  Wet leather and hit it
with a hammer.

Step 5: Dye Man, Dyeeee!

Follow the manufactures directions on how to use your dye.  Mine calls for wetting the leather first, let it dry, than buff.
I used a black dye on the backside.


Step 6: Bevel and Sand Edges

Use your edge beveler to bevel edges.  

You can also buff it at this point with a piece of canvas or duck cloth.  Wet it first then rub the edge super fast with canvas.  You're fingers will get hot but that's good.  The friction and heat seals the grain of the leather and will give you a smoother edge. ( I skipped this on this particular belt, Lazy )

Sand it round if you please.

Step 7: Embellish

Here you can sew your belt just to be cool or scribe some grooves in it with wing dividers.

Step 8: Finish Edge

Paint edge with...Edge Paint.

Step 9: Rivet Buckle

Make sure you put the buckle on the right direction.  There is usually a divot where the tongue hits the frameUsing quick rivets attach buckle.  Hammer down squarely cuz it's easy to hit it off center and dent the rivet.

Step 10: Fin.

Finish belt with neutral shoe wax, neat foot's oil, mink oil or whatever is easiest to get a hold of.  Just don't use olive oil.  You're not going to eat it I hope.

All done!
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