There is a wealth of information on making belts, but little on important accessories after the belt is made. In this Instructable I will show you how to make two important pieces: the belt loop, and the Ballard Key Fob. Both are simple, quick, and cheap to make, but useful.
Skill Level: Beginner
Cost: Belt loop FREE, Ballard Key Fob about 25 cents (cost of one snap)
This is no harder to do than the key ring kit that Tandy sells, and I think they should grab my Ballard Key Fob pattern and make a kit out of it as well. I'd trade 'em for some cow hide...
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Step 1: Belt Loop
Whenever a belt is buckled, there is usually a bit extra hanging loose. This extra is held neatly in place with a belt loop. The cosmetics of the loop should match the belt so that it is as inconspicuous as possible in service. It should be wide enough to pass two belt thicknesses through it.
1 Piece of scrap leather about 1/2" wide and a little longer than needed to wrap around the belt width
1 piece of scrap sinew or thread to tie the ends together, maybe six to eight inches long
Bottle of dye if you intend to color it
Can of Saddle Lac if you want it shiny
Knife or sharp chisel to cut the strap
1/8" punch, mallet
Strap cutter if you don't have a 1/2" wide piece of scrap and need to cut a piece
Wool Dauber if desired to apply dye
Step 2: Get a Piece of Scrap
Get or cut a piece of strap about 1/2" wide. Wrap it around two thickness of belt material to measure, then cut it. I put one end right over the other, wrapping it clean around the two thicknesses of belt material, then cut them together with one of my sharp chisels. That way the cut ends always match.
Step 3: Punch the Holes
Punch a hole in each end, about 1/4" in from the end -- far enough the holes won't rip out when you tie it together -- and just large enough to pull a needle with sinew or thread through it three or four times.
Step 4: Tie the Knot
Start from the inside and wrap the sinew or thread around the holes three times. Come out the back hole, over the top, through the front and out the back again. When you are on the third loop don't go out the back hole, rather bring the needle out inside again, right next to the piece dangling loose from where you started. Tie the sinew or thread in three or four square knots -- right over left, left over right.
Step 5: I'm Dying Here
Dye the belt loop to match. Here I am using a wool dauber, but in truth I prefer to just throw it in a re-purposed yogurt container with dye, swish it around a bit, and then slip it over two pieces of belt sized scrap to dry. Optionally, once dry, spray it with a bit of Tandy "Saddle Lac" for a nice shiny appearance.
Step 6: Ballard Key Fob
I call this a Ballard Key Fob because Ted Ballard gave me the idea. I was making fobs the usual way -- the kind you'd buy at the locksmith's shop for a few dollars with the key ring permanently attached. These traditional key fobs snap and unsnap a loop at the top to go around your belt. To use the key you unsnap the fob, pull the whole thing off your belt, use the key, then suck in your gut and push the fob back up around your belt.
Ted said that was nuts.
He said why not just make the bottom unsnap and leave the top loop on your belt. The key ring falls into your waiting fingers, you use the key, then easily slip it back onto the bottom of the fob and snap it closed again. Much faster, much neater -- Ted's a practical genius.
So here is how to make this drop dead easy accessory.
1 - piece of leather strap, 1" wide, about 10" long
1- Line 24 snap
Anvil and rod to set the line 24 snap
Knife or sharp chisel to cut the strap
Strap cutter if you don't already have a 1" wide piece of strap scrap
Edge beveler if you want to bevel the edge
Smoothing tool and sponge/water if you want to smooth the edge
Embossing tool if you want a bit of a pattern on the fob
Dye and maybe a wool dauber if you want to color the fob
Step 7: Get or Cut a Piece of Strap
Get or cut a piece of strap. About one inch wide seems to work well with line 24 snaps. I don't recommend using the line 20 snaps for this as they open a bit too easily. You'll need maybe ten inches of strap. I make enough of these that I made up a quick little template and just use it to punch my holes and bevel the ends. Make the strap long enough to loop over the belt and hang about one inch below it, then a bit more to loop down under to catch the key ring and loop back up to snap shut.
Here is the pattern that I use. The first hole is about one inch, the second about 6.5 inches. These will be held together by the stud part of the line 24 snap and form the belt loop. The third and last hole is in about a half inch from the other end, and will hold the cap end of the line 24 snap: it swings back up to snap onto the stud.
Step 8: Trim & Punch Holes
Trim the strap to look right, bevel the ends if you like, and punch the holes. Moving from left to right I punch holes at 1" and 6.5" from the left end, and 1/2" from the right end.
Step 9: Bevel, Burnish, Emboss
If you are going to bevel the edges, do so, then wet the edges and wait until the color lightens back to about the color of the rest of the piece. Use the smoothing wheel or burnishing tool to smooth the edges. If you are going to do any embossing or dying then now would be a good time.
Step 10: Install the Snap
Pinch together the two adjacent holes that are farthest apart with the finished side of the leather out. Slide the pin of the line 24 snap in from the hole that starts 6.5" from the end and fold over the hole that starts 1" from the end of the strap, so the post goes through both holes, and put the stud over the post. Set the stud.
Set the cap on the other hole such that the short end can swing up and snap onto the stud.
Step 11: Done
And you are done. Remember to click on the Bright Orange VOTE button at the top right of you screen and vote for this Instructable!
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