Introduction: Woodenleather Bag

About: Hi I am Dutch and live in Sweden. I love to create things in my little woodshop.

When a woodworker decides to make a bag, it has to include wood. A leather bag with wooden sides. It is easy to make and you decide if you want your bag plain or with decorations. I have to say it is addictive. I started with a plain bag to a friend of mine and after the first one I couldn’t stop. I had to try a bag with embroidery (the brown one). Then I wondered if my 55 year old sewing machine could sew in leather. The result: the black one with flowers. And then I had to make a bag to carry my mobile phone, keys and money with me between the shifts at work: a bag for the wood worker (or the wood teacher ;-) with a metal plate.

Step 1: This Is What You Need

To make your template:

card board, firmly paper, ruler pencil, tape, scissors

To make the sides:

(1-1.3 cm thick) Al kind but use only hard wood. I used beech, oak, birch and walnut.

Saw (I used my band saw but any saw will do)

Planer (or you can buy lumber I right thickness)


Ruler, pencil

Sand paper

Bee wax

To make the bag:

Leather about 2mm-2.5 mm (3/32 inch) thick if you use thinner leather the bag will become fluttery

Leather wax

Cutting board

A sharply knife, breakaway knife or sharp carving knife

Hardware (rivets and lock, there are many different kind of lock; magnetic snap fasteners, snap fasteners, but I choose Solid Brass/Silver Globular Round Head Stud Spot Screwback Back (that’s the name on Ali express ;-)
Rivet setter Punches,

hammer and awl Mallet Round Head Furniture Nail (upholstery and furniture Nail)

Stuff to burnish the leather (optional)


Sewing machine,

Thick thread

Embroidery yarn, needles, squared paper

Pilar drill

Metall plate I used brass 1 mm

Nails or rivets to mount your plate on your bag.

Step 2: Make a Template

Start to make a template so that you know how much leather you will need and what size your sides are. The most important question is: What will you carry in your bag? I wanted a bigger bag so that I can take my iPad with me (The black bag with flowers). The other two bags are smaller just to take with me my wallet, keys and mobile phone.

If you use cardboard for the sizes and firmer paper for the leather you can use these as your templates when you make the wooden sides and cut your leather

Step 3: The Sides

Prepare the lumber. Saw and plane the lumber. I plane them to 12 mm. Place your template on the wood and draw the sides. Cut the sides with your band saw or any other saw you have access to.

Make the holes for the shoulder strap. Mine are 0.5 cm high and 2cm wide. (The shoulder strap is 19 mm) Drill first on both ends and cut out between the holes. You can do it with a chisel or with an electric saw.

Sand the sides and finish them with bee wax. You can also lacquer them.

Step 4: Cut the Leather

Use the paper from your template. Place it on the leather and cut. It is important to hold your knife straight and use always a sharp knife.

You can also draw on the leather with a pencil but don’t tell it to your teacher in the leather class it is strictly forbidden ;-)

Step 5: Burn/polish the Edges (optional)

To burn the edges is optional but it gives a professional look when the edges are burned. Though I’m not used to work with leather I searched for an instructables on how to burn (polish) the edges and I found this wonderful instructables

…. but then I do not have the time to polish the edges by hand which will take hours and I found the following instructables:

Yes it burns your edges in just a few minutes, I like it.

I decided to turn a "burnisher" on my lathe.

I burned the edges on the following way :

I took a plate with water. I wetted the edges by dipping it in the water and burned on the lathe

at a speed of 1350rpm


Step 6: Which Design Do You Choose?

It is great to make a personal bag. You can have your bag plain, with a copper, steel or brass plate, do some embroidery or sewing. Why not try some stamps and carving on you leather bag? Before you continue treat the leather with some Dubbin.

Step 7: To Sew or Not to Sew

That’s the question but an even bigger question is whether you have access to a sewing machine able to sew in leather? Or whether you have the patience to sew by hand. My sewing machine is 55 years old and very strong so I give it a try and it worked out fine although I had to help my machine a bit. The brown bag is without stiches and it´s perfect too J

Don’t panic if you don’t have a sewing machine, Jessyratfink shows us how to sew in leather by hand, look here

Step 8: The Bag With Embroidery

The pattern

Start to draw the pattern. I decided to do a rose but you can choose whatever you want.

I drew the pattern and afterwards I reduced the size of the squares in a copier to about 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch (3mm x 3mm) Lay the pattern on your template to see if it looks good.

Prepare for embroidery

Tape the pattern on the leather with scotch tape and mark holes with a awl. This will make it easier to drill. Drill the holes (I used a 3/64 inch, 1mm drill) I have access to a pillar drill but you can easily do it with an electric screwdrivers. I drilled with the highest speed and lay the leather on top of a bit plywood. I didn’t clamp the leather but press it down with my hands on the plywood surface underneath.

The embroidery

It take some time to embroider your bag but what a great feeling when you are done. You will have a unique, beautiful bag. And if the yarn is worn out you can easily embroider your bag again.

Start the embroidery. I used DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss and separated it into three threads. It doesn’t matter if you start your cross stitch going ‘////’ or ‘\\\\’ as long as you are consistent with this pattern over the entirety of your project. Use the same direction to create every X in the stitch. Read more about how to do cross-stich in link below

Step 9: Flowers on a Bag

Take your drawing and blacken the backside with a soft pencil. Place the drawing on the leather and copy it by draw on the lines of your picture so that it appears in the leather.

I made a mistake at this point. I started happily to sew on my sewing machine as it did do with a sample but that was only on a small piece of leather. Unfortunately, the leather for the bag was too big for my sewing machine and I had to continue by hand.

Make marks with an awl. Drill the holes with a drill or with a sewing nail and hammer. Start sewing with a thick threat. This will take a while but afterwards you will have a unique bag.

Step 10: A Bag for the Wood Worker

Prepare your brass plate

Cut out your brass 0.04 inch (1mm) with a shears.(The measurements are 2cm by 4 cm). Use a rasp to smoothen the edges. Glue the design on of the plate with wood glue. This makes it easy to remove the paper afterwards. Let dry. You can either draw your own design or find it on internet when you search on "free templates" Before you start to drll: Make an indentation with a nail and a hammer to prevent the drill from slipping away. When your design contains very small details you can drill some holes in advance.You will get some burs on the backside, so smoothen with a rasp.

Cut out your design

Prepare your jewelry saw (or jigsaw) and cut your design. I used a blade for metal number 3 Remove the picture after wetting. When you’re done and use a rasp to smoothen the edges.

Buff your plate

Before buffing the plate sand it to remove all the scratches. I startet with 240 and ended with 1600 grit. I buff the plate with a cloth-wheel and buffing compound, to get rid of the scratches and to get a shiny surface. I used a Dremel. If necessary clean with alcohol or dish with soap and hot water.

Attach the plate to your bag

Make a hole. I used a hollow punch tool. You can also drill your holes with a drill or use or a leather hole punch

Place the plate on the leather and place the rivets in the holes. Cut off the extra length. You should leave 3/4 of the diameter of the rivet. Use anvil tools to clinch your rivets. Or drill a whole on hard steel see pictures above.

Put the head of the rivet on the tool in the anvil or on the whole you drilled. I placed a piece of thin fabric between the tool and the rivet to prevent marks on the plate.

Flatten the rivet with a hammer and smoothen afterwards with a rasp if needed.

Congratulations you have designed your own bag.

Do you want to learn more about how to fasten rivets? Amourkris made an instructables, see link below.

Step 11: The Sholder Strap

Punch the shoulder strap on both ends. I used an awl to mark the holes. On one side I mounted the shoulder strap on the wooden side and fasten the shoulder strap with a rivet. Om the other side I used a Solid Brass/Silver Globular Round Head Stud Spot Screwback . This gives me the opportunity to adjust the shoulder strap.

Step 12: Assembling

Make a hole for the lock in the flap before you assemble the bag. If you use a snap fastener you could mount the one on the top of the bag. The other one will be mounted when the bag is finished. Because you will never know exactly where to place this in advance. I used a Solid Brass/Silver Globular Round Head Stud Spot Screwback for the lock so I punched the hole in advance.

Wrap your leather around the wooden sides so that you can see if the leather fits, if needed adjust the wooden sides.

Mark on the wooden sides where you should place the leather.

Mark on both sides of your leather where to place your furniture nails with an awl. Tape the leather on the sides and predrill the holes a little bit into the wood. If you wish you could use some glue on the sides. Hammer your furniture nails with a wooden hammer (mallet) to prevent marks on the nails.

Step 13: The Lock

Mark at last where your lock should mount. Place a bit Wood inside the bag so that you can punsch your hole. Mount the lock.

After using the bags a few times I wasn't satified with the lock and changed the Globular Head Stud Screwback to magnetic snap fasteners which made it easier to open end close the bag.

Yes this is it, you are finished, enjoy. Thank you for reading this instructables and I hope that you enjoyed it.

This instructables compets in the "Leather Contest"

Leather Contest 2017

Grand Prize in the
Leather Contest 2017