Leather Cardholder Wallet

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About: Greetings! I'm an engineer, and I like to use my hands to make things that I find interesting. Fun stuff!

This is how I make one of my leather wallets - it holds 4-6 cards and folded cash in the cash strap in the back.

Check out my maker's Instagram (handlworks) for my other project dumps!

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Step 1: Tools and Supplies

These are the tools and supplies I use for this wallet. There are a lot of substitutions you can make for tools, but each tool makes the job easier!

+ Ruler/straightedge - there's no substitute for a good ruler and straightedge. I like mine to be clear, so I can get the most precise cuts I can.

+ Knife - I use an X-Acto knife, and sometimes just a single sided razor blade. The X-Acto does a great all-around job.

+ Pricking irons - this tool makes the holes that the stitching will join. An awl and ruler can substitute, but the even spacing in the pricking irons makes it much easier to get consistent spacing.

+ Groover - this makes grooves to tell me where to put the stitch holes. Can be substituted with a pencil and ruler, but the groover makes it so much easier!

+ Contact cement - this acts as glue to hold to leather together during stitching, but also prevents the edges from separating during normal use. Not necessary, but helps things look nice.

+ Needles and thread - I use between 2 and 4 needles, and waxed polyester thread. Definitely necessary!

+ Beeswax and burnishing tool - Edge burnishing essentially polishes the edges of the wallet, and makes it look refined. Beeswax keeps it together and looks even more shiny!

+ Mallet - I use the mallet to hammer the pricking irons through the leather.

+ Leather - This is Chestnut Buttero leather from Conceria Walpier in Italy. I ordered it from Rocky Mountain Leather Supply, in 5oz for the main body, and 2oz for the cash strap.

Step 2: Cut Pattern

I created this pattern through trial and error. There's a screenshot of some dimensions I have in my design for a start. I can create drawings if y'all want some!

Step 3: Punch Holes

The groover is used to make a groove that follows the edge of the leather. It can be set to make a groove at whatever distance from the edge that you need. This ensures that the stitches are straight, because wonky stitches look messy.

The pricking irons then punch holes that follow the grooves. Easy enough, eh?

Step 4: Maker's Mark

My maker's mark is a 3D-printed piece that I use my vice to press into the leather. Every maker needs their mark!

Step 5: Pre-Burnish

Burnishing helps edges look finished and neat. For this wallet, I'm choosing to burnish the edges for that clean-cut look.

The reason I'm burnishing right now instead of at the end (which I'll also do) is that certain areas will be difficult to access later, when the wallet is assembled.

The process is simple: wet the edges with water, rub the edge slicker on the wet edge until it makes a squeaky sound while you rub, and repeat the process with beeswax to prevent the edge from fraying later.

You can see the burnished parts of the edges as the darker areas in the pictures.

Step 6: Contact Cement and Assembly

Here's the fun part, when the wallet takes shape!

I put contact cement on the edges that will need to be sewn. I've found that putting too much makes stitching difficult later, so I only apply contact cement close to the edge and not on the stitching holes. The cement holds the wallet together for sewing, and also keeps the edge together while burnishing and during use.

For any contact cement on the top (smooth) face of the leather, I use my knife to rough up the surface so the cement can "bite" into the material better.

I use my stitching needles to make sure all the holes are lined up for sewing later, and then press the edges together. After, I pound the glued edges with my mallet to make sure they'll stay and that's it!

Step 7: Saddle Stitch

Saddle stitching is one of the neatest parts of leathercraft to me! It holds the leather together, and because each stitch is an overhand knot, it holds better than a sewing machine stitch and can stay together even if one stitch breaks from abuse!

Needle A and Needle B are both attached to one long piece of waxed polyester thread (pic 1). The needles are threaded through the hole, and then that needle pierces the thread about an inch from the end. This holds the thread on the needle during stitching without a knot.

To begin, I pull one needle through my first hole, and make sure the thread length on either side is equal (pics 2, 3). For this wallet, I add some reinforcement on the first and last holes by pulling Needle A and then Needle B through the same hole (pics 4, 5, 11).

Needle A then goes through the next hole, leaving a bit of a loop (pic 6).

Needle B goes partly through that same hole from the other side (pic 7). Make sure Needle B doesn't pierce the thread that's already there!

The thread loop made by Needle A loops around Needle B (pic 8).

Needle B gets pulled the rest of the way through the hole (pic 9), and both needles get pulled tight.

That's a saddle stitch! I do this the rest of the way along the edge, making sure I add the cardholder strap at the right place.

Step 8: Finishing

Finishing is easy. It ties everything up into a neat little package, and you can make this as complicated or simple as you want.

I trim the thread, and since it's polyester, I can use a lighter to melt the ends back into the stitching. Edges and corners get trimmed to make sure everything is even and cut to the shape I want.

I also burnish the rest of the edges. If the edges are stitched together, I burnish them last instead of in the pre-burnishing step. This makes the edge look like one piece and blended together.

Some leathers will also take a bit of oil or protective compound at the end, or fancy things like edge paint if you're feeling it.

The final part of finishing is reveling in your creation and loading it up with cards and cash!

I'm happy to answer any questions - there's a ton of information out there, and I tried to keep the Instructable relatively simple!

Leather Challenge

Runner Up in the
Leather Challenge

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    8 Discussions

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    Tura Street

    3 months ago

    This is amazing! Great job and congrats on being a finalist!

    1 reply
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    Cherzer

    3 months ago

    This is a great first project for someone to try! I like how you pointed out all the tools that can be substituted when starting out, because people don’t always have all the tools right away. :)

    1 reply
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    briandamgeCherzer

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hey thanks a lot! I am well acquainted with not having enough tools, substitutions are great ;)

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    seamster

    4 months ago

    This is an excellent and simple leather project. Perfect instructions too, loads of great detail for newbs like myself! Thanks!! : )

    1 reply
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    briandamgeseamster

    Reply 4 months ago

    Hey, thanks a lot! I'd love to answer questions as well.