How to Make Patterned Leather (and Use It to Make a Clock and Mirror Frame)

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Introduction: How to Make Patterned Leather (and Use It to Make a Clock and Mirror Frame)

About: I’M A SELF-TAUGHT MAKER, DESIGNER, AND CONTENT CREATOR. WHILE I’M ALWAYS TRYING TO LEARN AND WORK WITH NEW MEDIUMS AND TECHNIQUES, MOST OF MY CURRENT WORK FOCUSES ON LEATHER WORK AND WOOD WORKING. WHEN I’M N…

I’ve always been a fan of cutting boards with cool patterns and patterned plywood projects, so I thought I would try to apply some woodworking cutting board/patterned plywood techniques to leather to see if I could make some interesting patterned leather panels that I could then use on some unique products like this simple clock and mirror frame.

Supplies

(Affiliate Links):

· Leather Circle Cutter - https://amzn.to/3kDcqNi

· Clock Mechanism - https://amzn.to/2OjWNOu

· Mirror - https://amzn.to/3uNViZP

· EcoWeld Adhesive - https://www.tandyleather.com/en/product/ecoweld-w...

· Variety Shape Punch Set - https://amzn.to/2Ry4pez

· Leather - https://districtleathersupply.com/

· Leather Rotary Cutter - https://amzn.to/2uTr1yd

· Clock Backing – ½ inch Plywood

· Wood Circle Cutting Jig - https://amzn.to/3rUxyAN

Step 1: Picking the Leather and Backing Material

The first step is to pick out the leather.

You need at least two contrasting colors, but the more you use, the more interesting you can make the patterns

For these projects I decided to use three

The thickness of the leather doesn’t really matter as long as they’re all the same thickness – I’m using 3 oz leather

To keep all the strips of leather connected I needed a backing material and I decided to use a thin piece of canvas which in this case I cut to 11 by 9 inches

Then I laid out the leather to make sure I had enough to cover the piece of canvas

Step 2: Cutting the Leather Strips & Picking the Layout Pattern

The width of the strips doesn’t really matter, again, as long as they are all consistent

For these projects, I went with half inch strips

The more precise you are when cutting the strips to the same widths, the better the pattern consistency will be, so I took plenty of time to carefully line everything up with my ruler before each cut

Then I used my rotary cutter to cut each strip

Once all the strips were cut, I moved on to laying out the pattern I wanted to use

As long as you use a repeated sequence the end result will have a consistent pattern

But this is where you can have some fun trying different sequences

For example, for this first panel I went with tan, cream, chocolate, cream, tan and then kept repeating that sequence

I also tried a tan then chocolate then cream sequence and I will compare the two results later which will make what I’m saying make more sense

Once I was happy with the layout, I used some of Tandy Leather’s EcoWeld adhesive to glue the strips to the canvas

You simply apply some to canvas and each strip, wait for it to get tacky and then stick them together

I started at one edge of the canvas and then worked my way down strip by strip being careful to make sure each strip’s edge was butted up as close as possible to the strip before

Step 3: Cutting the 45 Degree Strips

This next step is what makes this whole thing work – cutting new strips at a 45-degree angle

The cutting pad I use has a 45-degree angle layout on it which makes this super easy

I started by cutting a 45-degree piece off the corner

Then I simply used that new edge as the straight edge reference for cutting all the strips

I lined up the edge against one of the grid lines, used my rotary cutter to cut a half inch strip, moved the new edge over to the grid line and cut another half inch strip

I continued this until I had cut as many strips as possible

Step 4: Creating the Patterned Leather Panel

Once all the strips were cut, I slid each strip one diamond to the left or right which creates the new pattern

As you can see, the tan, cream, chocolate, cream, tan sequence I used creates this double chocolate and then double tan diamond pattern

Now that I had the new pattern laid out, I moved on to gluing the strips to another backing to create a completed panel

For this backing I used leather instead of canvas to give the panel a little more rigidity

I again used some EcoWeld to glue the strips to the leather backing

I started with the longest center strip

Since this first strip would be the reference for all the other strips, I used my ruler to make sure it was perfectly straight

Then I just worked strip by strip until everything was glued together

It can get tricky to remember the correct alignment of each strip as you go, so I took a picture of the pattern before I started to use as a reference as I went and that proved to be very helpful

As I mentioned earlier, the sequence you lay the strips out on the canvas impacts the final pattern

So again, when I did this tan, cream, chocolate, cream, tan sequence I ended up getting this side by side double chocolate and then double tan diamond pattern

Alternatively, let me show you what I got when I did a simple tan, chocolate, cream sequence

As you can see, when I used this sequence, I got this more uniform diamond pattern

Step 5: Cutting the Circle for Patterned Leather Clock Face

I decided to start by using the first panel to make a simple clock

To make the panel easier to work with I started by cutting off the excess leather backing

To cut the circle for the clock I used this really handy circle cutter, but you could also do by hand which I also do later

The circle cutter has a small blade at the end of an adjustable arm which allows you to adjust it to cut the circle to a desired circumference

In this case, I set it to as large as it would go

To hold it in place as you make the cut, it has a small pin at the center that gets pressed into the leather to keep it from moving

Once centered you simply press the blade down into the leather and turn the cutter 360 degrees cutting a perfectly uniform circle

Step 6: Making the Clock Backing

For the structure of the clock, I decided to attach the leather circle to some plywood,

So I traced the circle onto a piece of half inch plywood using the leather circle as a reference

Next, I found a leather punch the right size for the clock mechanism shaft I was going to use and then used my arbor press to punch a hole in the center of the leather

I then again used the leather circle as a reference to mark where to drill the center hole in the plywood

But before I did that though, I went outside and used my router and circle cutter jig to cut the plywood circle

Step 7: Attaching the Patterned Leather to the Clock Backer and Attaching the Clock Mechanism

Before gluing the leather to the plywood, I did a test fit to make sure I had the right length clock shaft and it was a perfect fit

To improve the adhesion of the leather to the wood, I used some sandpaper to scuff up the back side of the leather circle

Then I again used some EcoWeld adhesive to attach the leather to the wood, using the clock shaft to help line up the two pieces

Before attaching the clock mechanism, I added a couple strips of leather to the edges of the circle to cover up the plywood

Then I simply followed the installation instructions that came with the clock mechanism and just like that the clock was done

Step 8: Making the Patterned Leather Mirror Frame

Next, I moved on to making the mirror border

I started by using an inexpensive mirror I got off Amazon to figure out how big the border should be

I ended up having a funnel that was the perfect circumference, so I used that and my scratch awl to score a cut line

This circle was too big for the circle cutter, so I used my X-Acto knife to cut the circle by hand

To cut out the inner circle for the mirror to show through, I needed to find the center of the circle

To do this I simply used a wood skewer to poke a center mark using the funnel as a guide

Then I set the circle cutter to about a ¼ inch smaller than the mirror

This will provide a small overlap that will hold the mirror in

Next, I cut two more circles out of leather the same size

One will be used as the backing of the mirror and the other will have the center cut out so it can act as a spacer between the backing and the front

The mirror came with hanging hook already attached, so I simply cut a hole around it in the backing to expose it

Then I glued all the pieces together,

Whenever I had to glue the finished side of leather, I used an edge rougher to scuff it up which helps the bond

With all three pieces glued together, the mirror was done!

Thanks so much for following along with this project! I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment below and don’t forget to watch the video on my channel!

See you on the next project!

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    6 Comments

    0
    MxLeather
    MxLeather

    6 months ago on Step 8

    Thanks for sharing this is so cool!
    I'll give it a shot, I love it!

    0
    Ethan Carter Designs
    Ethan Carter Designs

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thank you so much! I really hope you do and I'd love to see it if you do!

    0
    tomatoskins
    tomatoskins

    6 months ago

    What a great technique for making patterns in leather. I can see this technique being used for other applications such as with wood veneer. Hmmmm... this gives me some ideas!

    0
    Ethan Carter Designs
    Ethan Carter Designs

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thank you so much! That's exactly what I hope people take away from this...not these exact projects, but the concept to be applied to other ideas! I'm so pumped to see what your ideas come up with!

    0
    Simrengarg
    Simrengarg

    6 months ago on Step 8

    Oh my god, Love it! I will definitely be doing this for my next leather project. Thanks for sharing!

    0
    Ethan Carter Designs
    Ethan Carter Designs

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thank you so much! Do it! I'd love to see what you come up with!