Leather Folding Techniques - Werkplaatsidc




Introduction: Leather Folding Techniques - Werkplaatsidc

About: I'm a Industrial Product Design student at Howest (Kortrijk). Enjoy my projects and have lots of pleasure making them!

In this instructable we'll help you fold leather.

We discoverd different techniques like grooving leather, clamping it and using a hot air gun.
Go ahead and try them out.

Step 1: Materials

- Leather pieces

- soft hammer

- hot air gun

- leather crafting tools

- a tool to make grooves
- a tool to make lines
- a tool to make holes

- leather folder

Step 2: Choosing Your Leather

We used heavy leather, the so called "saddle leather". It is better to use a stronger leather from the top layer of the skin. Some folding techniques (like the grooves) won’t work with for example suede (though one does wonder why you would want to make folds in a flexible material like that).

Step 3: Preparing the Leather

Take a wet towel and gently rub a bit of water with circular movements into the leather. It should not be wet!
It should be cold to the touch but not wet on the surface.

Step 4: First Technique: Clamping

The first technique relies on the deformation of the leather by using some sort of clamp. We used clamps and a bench vice as example, but you can even use books or tables.

  1. Place a ruler or leather folder where you want your fold to happen.
  2. Gently fold the leather over to the other side.
  3. Use some cardboard to protect your leather from the clamps, if the impressions bother you.
  4. Place the clamps
  5. Let the moisture inside the leather dry.

Another example: here we used a bench vice, without carboard because we were curious if the pattern would make some nice surface decoration for the leather.

Step 5: Second Technique: Groove

There are 3 types of grooves:

1. Taking material away

2. With profile and hammer

3. Lines

Step 6: Second Technique: Groove 1

Taking away material

Again, prepare you leather before grooving.

  1. Use the leather groover to take away material along the fold.

Important for this technique is that you make sure which side you want on display. The side in which you are grooving will have the tendency to fold outwards and thus be the top or visible side.

(Don’t mind the fact that there are two grooves, I was a bit careless when handling the groover

2. To make your fold even stronger you can use a ruler or leather folder to fold the leather over.

If you want a sharper angle you can use the soft hammer, gently (or not, depends on the amount of frustrations you are coping with) hit the leather where it folds over.

3. Result

Step 7: Second Technique: Groove 2

With profile and hammer.

  1. Search around for something to emboss the leather with. Here, in a creative and very desperate moment, we used what seems to be an aluminum plate placed on top of a rail.
  2. Make a soft line at first, by gently hitting your profile with the soft hammer. Once satisfied, you can hit harder and leave a lasting impression in the leather.
  3. Once you have your fold, it will easily move to the other side. You can still hit it a few times with your soft hammer. Sometimes this folds is preferred instead of grooving because there is less material damage.
  4. Result

Step 8: Second Technique: Groove 3

Here I took a tool, normally used to trace lines of drawings, to engrave some lines.

I drew some lines with a distance of 3mm next to each other on the area where the leather should be creasing.

The lines help the leather fold more easily; the fold is less pronounced and more decorated.

Step 9: Third Technique: Heat

Still preparing the leather? Yes? Good, because this technique will need that water.

  1. Mark where you want your fold to come
  2. blow on that mark with the hot air gun
    This technique will make less sharp folds and subtler one’s. This works nice when you don’t want any visual proof of your folds.

You can make very round folds or if you hold more tension you can make sharper folds.

PS: Don’t make the same mistake as I did, Use something to cover your hands with and protect you against the heat because a hot air gun is very, very warm.

Step 10: Results

Here are the different results from the folding techniques.

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    Identity Leathercraft

    Hi great instructable, like the heat idea. Just to add one more method - if you are working with natural vegetable tanned leather you can also wet it and form it over into the shape, hold in position and let it dry.. this is great for knife sheaths, and I also use for thinner calf leathers for getting a nice strong crease line for wallets etc.


    4 years ago

    These are very good ways to treat a thicker leatherpiece. I also craft with leather and fire hose, and then i use the stitchgroover to make shallow cuttings, for bending the material. Thanks for the other bend ways!


    5 years ago

    The groove technique looks interesting - would it work with a laser-cut line? Mayby two or three lines right next to each other?


    Reply 5 years ago

    Actually, I was wondering about using a living hinge design to put grooves into leather with a laser cutter.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Oh, good idea!


    Reply 5 years ago

    Yes that is so cool! Could work very well on thick leather.
    You can try and see if it works.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Hi Kiteman,

    It would probably work.
    You can try it but don't go to deep because sometimes leather gives tiny cracks.

    It is a very good idea!

    Reply 5 years ago



    5 years ago

    Great instructable for us noobs! I have a small satchel project, that I intend to stitch together, then turn inside out. We're talking in a general size of a paperback, with the length of a woman's clutch purse, so not much room to work.

    Should I groove first, or should I heat gun into shape afterwards? (Or should I just use split grain leather?)