Introduction: Leather Valet Tray/Pouch

About: Mechanical/Nuclear Engineer, with a passion for making.

Having long ago adopted the preparedness lifestyle (eagle scout), I find myself carrying a number of items with me on a daily basis. Whether it's a standard day at the office, or an adventure far from home, one of the constant challenges of full every day carry (EDC) is a way to transport and store your item. The solution to carry the items: a pouch. The solution to store them: a valet tray. The problem: this adds two more items to my already abundant EDC.

So I came up with what I believed was a simple solution: A pouch that turns into a valet tray. The design folds into a pouch to store your items while your on the move, and becomes a nice valet tray to give them a proper home when you reach your destination.

The perfect accessory for travel, your daily routine, or simple to fill the constant need to create something new (I mean you're on instructables, right??)

Step 1: Tools/Material

Here are the materials you will need:

1. Leather: I've chosen to use Horween Essex 4-5oz leather, as it's what I had on hand. This can be sourced from a number of places, but I bought mine at Maverick Leather. Each side of the pouch/tray will require 12.75" x 12.75" of leather.

2. Thread: I'm using Serafil Size 15 thread from JPM Supply Company.

3. Snaps: I am using snaps from DOT Fasteners. The particular part numbers are as follows:

-Post: 93-XB-10224--1C

-Socket: 93-XB-10224--1C

-Stud: 93-BS-10370--1C

-Cap: 93-X2-10112--1B

Here are the tools you will need:

1. Laser Cutter (Or appropriate hand tools for cutting the shape): I'm using the ULS 4.60 at my local makerspace to cut out the pieces for this particular item. The same product could be made with hand tools, and there are a number of quality instructables on doing so.

2. Snap setting tool: I'm using a Hoover Press-N-Snap Tool. An appropriate hammer die set can also be used, at a much more affordable price.

3. Edge beveling tool

4. Needles: I am using Size 3 needles from Richard Hemming & Son, purchased from Hollanders

5. Lighter

6. Thread snips

7. Sandpaper: 400grit, 800 grit, 1000 grit

8. Saddle Soap: I'm using Fiebring's Saddle Soap from Amazon

9. Stitching Clamp: I'm using a quick homemade stitching clamp, but you can also use binder clips for this portion of the project. It will be clear once we get to that point.

Step 2: Design/CAD

Once you've got the tools/materials, you need to have a design. I've attached a DXF of my design above. If you would like to develop your own pattern, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Bend Radius: Study your leather for a little bit before beginning your design. Get an idea for how tightly the leather can bend without causing any damage. In my design, you'll notice that I have cut slots in the inner layers of leather between the snaps. This is because the inner layer cannot bend tightly enough to allow the snaps to close without the slot, and it would cause the snaps to pop open.

Kerf: Since I'm using a laser cutter to make my pattern pieces, on thing to consider is laser kerf. This is particularly important when making the stitching holes. If I modeled my holes the size I wanted them to be in the end, the laser kerf would greatly increase the size of the holes, and the result would be less than satisfactory. If you are doing your cutting by hand, select pricking irons that are sized appropriately for the thread you are going to use.

Stitch Length: By this I mean the distance between stitching holes. Too close, and the stitching will look too dense, and it will take a very long time to stitch (You increase the number of operations you have to do for the same stitch length). Too long, and the stitches will not hold the material sufficiently, as well as look too course around corners (it will form an angle instead of following the curve). For the leather and thread I am using, I found a length of around 0.14" to be ideal.

Step 3: Cutting Your Parts

For this stage, I used the ULS 4.60 Laser Cutter to cut the components from my leather.

Step 4: Stitching Your Components Together

The components of the pouch/tray are fastened with a saddle stitch. Although I will give a high-level overview of the saddle stitch in this section, a very good tutorial on the saddle stitch can be found here:

NOTE: I'll be referencing a number of instructables by Jessyratfink. If you like this instructable, and are interested in doing leatherwork of your own, you owe it to yourself to take a look at her instructables. They will be invaluable in your leatherworking journey.

The basic steps of the saddle stitch are as follows:

1. Thread your needles: To attach your thread to the needles, we will use a bookbinders knot. A good guide on how to do this operation can be found here

2. Begin by placing your needle/thread though the first hole, and pulling it such that an equal amount of thread is on each side of the working piece.

3. Place your first thread (Thread 1) through the second hole, and pull it all the way through, so that both threads of equal length are located on one side of the working piece.

4. Place your second thread (Thread 2) through the second stitching hole, above or below the first thread, and pull it all the way through. Equal lengths of thread should be on each side of the working piece again.

5. Repeat processes 3 and 4 until you reach the end of the stitching line. NOTE: It's important that you repeat the same order of operations for each stitch. Begin each stitch with the same thread (Thread 1), and place the second thread (Thread 2) in the hole in the same orientation with respect to Thread 1 (above or below, whichever you choose). Failure to repeat the same order of operations will result in stitching lines that look wavy. This is not a fast operation, so you might as well take your time and do it right :)

6. Once you reach the end of your stitching line, anchor your stitch by stitching back of the last 4-5 holes a second time.

Step 5: Sand and Burnish the Edges

After your parts are stitched together, you'll want to figure out how to finish your edges. Although I've chosen to burnish the edges of my items, it's not the only method available to you. You've got a few options here:

1. Do nothing: If you laser cut your items like I did, you may be satisfied with the crisp edge left by the laser. In which case, move on to the hardware stage.

2. Paint your edges: If you want to give your item a distinct look, you could paint your edges. The colors of edge paint are about as plentiful as leathers themselves, so the sky is the limit.

3. Burnish your edges: I like the finish of burnished edges on leather, so this is the route I took.

The steps for burnishing your edges is as follows:

1. Sand your edges: This step is critical to getting a smooth finish. I start with 400 grit, and sand until I cannot feel a distinct difference between the two different layers of leather. After this, I use progressively higher grits of sandpaper to smooth out the finish of the edges (800 grit, 1000 grit).

2. Apply your finishing compound: I am using Fiebring's Saddle Soap, but you could also use Gum Tragacanth or Beeswax.

3. Burnish your edges: Using a burnishing tool (Hand tool or rotary attachment), burnish the finishing compound into your edges. I am using a homemade burnishing attachment for my rotary tool, but a hand tool can work just as well.

Now that the edges are burnished, we can move on to our final step: Adding the snaps

Step 6: Adding the Snaps

The final stage of the process is adding the snaps. This stage is pretty easy, and you should follow the instructions on your snap setting tool for the specifics on how to install your snaps. What I will mention here is the importance of where each particular snap component is placed.

The snaps must be placed so that they can interface with the opposing snap in their same corner while in the "valet tray" configuration, as well as interface with their respective snap on the other side while in the "pouch" configuration.

In order to achieve this, the snaps must be placed in the configuration shown in the images above. One "side" of the pouch will have the "Button" snaps placed on the outer positions, while the "Post" snaps are placed at the inner locations. The opposing "side" of the pouch will have the "Button" snaps placed on the inner positions, while the "post" snaps are placed in the outer positions.

Step 7: Enjoy You Valet Tray Pouch

That's it, you're done! Time to toss your daily carry items into your new Valet Tray Pouch, and go forth prepared for anything the day might throw at you (and in style too!)

If you have any questions/comments about this Instructable (it's my first one) or the process, comment below. If you'd like to see more of my leather items, take a look at my page: Andrews Design LLC

Additionally, this instructable is being made as an entry to the Travel Contest. If you liked it, I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to go over to the contest and show your appreciation with a vote!


Travel Contest 2017

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Travel Contest 2017