Simple Laser-cut Leather Card Case




About: art/tech/craft hacker and member of Ace Monster Toys hackerspace in Oakland, CA

If you have access to a laser cutter, here is a quick and easy leather card case that you can make.

Thanks to Justin for demonstrating this Instructable and for drafting the dxf file.

"Submitted by Ace Monster Toys Hackerspace in Oakland, CA for the Instructables Sponsorship Program"

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Step 1: Tools & Materials

You will need the following for this project:

*Leather -- Recommend: thin leather 2 to 4 oz weight, or 1.5mm to 3mm thickness
                     Vegetable tanned leather works best, but each leather cuts differently.
                     Do not expect consistent results across different kinds of leather.
                     Make sure to do a few test runs to make sure you're cutting successfully.

*Needless – upholstery needles with blunted tips work best.  For example something like this

*Thread – a heavy weight waxed works best such as this one


*lighter or soldering iron

*thimble (optional if you've got tough fingers)

*the design template .dxf file (attached to this instructable)

*a laser cutter 

*an awesome hat (well, not really.... but it seemed to help Justin)

Step 2: Laser Cut the Leather

The next step is to use the .dxf design file with your laser cutter to cut out the shape from your leather stock.  We recommend practicing on scraps of the material first to identify the speed and power settings for your laser that work the best.  On our laser at Ace Monster Toys, which is an 80W CO2 laser we used a speed of 40 with a power of 85. (You'll have to read your laser manual to see if that makes sense for your laser).

Step 3: Clean Up the Leather and Prepare for Stitching

To prepare the leather for stitching, you have to wipe off the soot from the laser cutting.  There may be quite a bit of soot actually.  It also helps to wipe the leather down with leather conditioner.  You can get this from a leatherworking supplier such as Tandy Leathers.

It is also important to ensure that all the holes have been cut completely.  Use the needle heads to clear any remaining leather bits from the holes.

Finally, if there are any rough edges from the laser cutter, you can trim them off with the scissors.

Step 4: Sewing the Case and Finishing Up

To complete the case, you have to "saddle stitch" or lock stitch the two bits together, with the tanned sides facing outward.  It helps to use a binder clip to hold the two sides while you do this.  

We won't reproduce it here, but there are many guides for threading needles and sewing a saddle stitch, such as this one here.

After saddle stitching all the way around the case, back-stitch three or four holes to ensure the stitching will not unravel. 

To finish off, tie a knot with the two ends of the thread and snip the ends with scissors.

Finally, use a lighter or soldering iron and melt the thread in to place. Press down on the thread with your finger (or using a thimble) when it is still a bit hot. This will ensure it does not unravel at all.

There you have it!  Enjoy your card case!

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    8 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 4

    How large did you make your stitch holes?


    3 years ago

    Thanks! I just made a few of these and it cuts great.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    what size are the holes in the dxf im trying to make my own template and i dont want them to be enormous


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The .dxf file appears to be empty at the moment. I've checked it's not a problem my end by downloading and viewing .dxf files from elsewhere.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm... I'm not sure what's going on. I am able to download and import the file into Rhino on Mac, and I can "more" the file and see the contents. What system/software are you using? Perhaps it's a .dxf version compatibility issue?

    The Rambler

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I get it but I have to chuckle at the idea of "simple" and "laser-cut" going together. Still, it's a sharp looking end result and if I had access to a laser cutter I'm sure I'd use it every chance I got.

    2 replies
    donovandThe Rambler

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Fair enough... it's all relative I suppose. :) Though it would make life considerably more difficult, one *could* use the template and cut the leather out by hand as an alternative.

    The Ramblerdonovand

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Haha I really was just kidding. Like I said, if you have a laser cutter why not use it? And when speaking of the design of this wallet it is true that it's simple. I may just make one myself, though I would have to go the considerably more difficult route of cutting it out by hand.