Introduction: Leather ID/Credit Card Slip Sleeve

About: Retired military, I enjoy learning and trying new things. Teaching those around me, and helping others.

My job requires that I carry an identification card that is also used to log into computers with an embedded chip (Common Access Card) also know as a CAC. Because I am on a boat and often work in the engine room I do not like to carry my wallet. However I nearly always carry my CAC. I needed something that would help to protect the card from being bent and from getting scratched by the random items that end up in my pocket.

These cases turned out to be a big hit with my shipmates and I started making them as gifts over the holiday as well. The standard size ID in the US is about the same size as a Credit Card and these slip covers can be scaled up to allow multiply cards to be stored in them. As it is 2 cards will fit snuggly inside as built.

Step 1: Leather Slection

For this project I am using some older vegetable tanned leather that is roughly 6oz weight (3/32" or 1.2mm). My first slip sleeve was made with chrome tanned leather which made the flesh side much less rough, however I enjoy using the vegetable tanned leather as it allows for tooling and makes personalizing them as gift much more enjoyable.

Step 2: Templet and Layout

I made a template out of card stock (in my case it was from a six part folder), this made it faster for me to lay out a bunch of fronts/backs and then cut them out at once. My Template for a single card (2 will fit its just tight) is 2.75in x 3.75in (7cmx9.5cm). The other part of having a template that I find helpful is keeping everything the same and repeatable. Which makes for less work at the end with trimming the sides after gluing and stitching.

Step 3: Cut Out Sides

Once your layout is done, it is time to cut out the parts. I like to use a rotary cutter against a steel straight edge. You can also use a Hobby Knife for this just take your time and keep your edges as straight as possible (it makes for a better finished project).

At this point you also need to make a determination if you are going to dye the leather or do any tooling.

If you are going to dye the leather follow the instruction of the manufacture.

And if you are going to do some tooling get to it and let your design flow as you personalize your project.

Step 4: Glue Up

Once you have two side cut out its time to adhere them together. This step is not a requirement, however I think its helps with the finished project to make sure that everything stays ridged. And it helps when it comes to finishing the edges as they will not splay apart as you burnish them. To help with keeping the glue out of the area where the card will sit I cut a second piece of card stock which is slightly larger then my ID. This helps to make sure there is no glue in the way for the card to fit right at the end. Place the glue along 3 sides and follow the recommendation of the glue manufacture. I am using a glue that is recommended to be applied to both pieces before clamping.

Step 5: Clamp and Dry

This step is only needed if you are using glue. And I am sure that depending on the glue you are using that it could also be skipped. However I like to give the glue I am using a chance to dry some and because the environment on a ship is somewhat humid even when the HVAC is working right I find clamping them ensures no movement as the glue cures.

Step 6: Stiching

I am sure that the glue I am using alone would last a long time. However I find that the fit and finish looks more polished with a saddle stich. Using a stitching groove to make a line which I follow when I punch the holes, which also allows the stich to be somewhat proud of the surface but not so much that it snags easily. Once down I switch over to my leather punch and add the holes. Then using a saddle stich I start at the bottom and work my way to the left then back to the right before working my way back to the bottom where I lock my stich off and cut flush. If you search for saddle stich you will find many well written instructables that will help you. I will say that having a stitching pony makes this task much more enjoyable. However I do not have one here on the boat but I was able to use the two pieces of OAK that I uses for clamping as a makeshift one.

Step 7: Finishing

At this point you will have the rough card sleeve completed. However the edges of the leather will still be a rough and maybe not aligned just right. Also getting the card back out will be very hard as there is not a good way to grip it. Using a hole punch or if you have the right tool like a pocket notch punch, or using a steady hand you could trim out an area to grip the card. I do not have a steady hand (way to much caffeine I did mention I am on a ship and an engineer right), nor do I have the "correct" tool. What I do have is a set of hole punches that are used for cutting gaskets.

At this point the case is even closer to being done. But the fit and finish are not up to snuff. So I will take my rotary cutter and trim the edges back a little to even them up. Then using a beveler I like to go around the case and clean the edges up a little more before burnishing. For burnishing I am using gum tragacanth, applied with a paint brush and followed up with the wood slicker.

And there you have it a nice leather ID card or credit card holder that will stand up to a fair amount of abuse.

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