Zelda Themed Three Ring Binder




About: My 30's have become a sort of renaissance for my tinkering and building.

This is a present for my wife's birthday. She is envious of the nifty leather wallet I made for myself so I decided to make her a binder type thing for her to take to school. The design is Zelda inspired...that's kind of a theme with my wife.

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Step 1: The Design

This is a present for my wife's birthday. She is envious of the nifty leather wallet I made for myself so I decided to make her a binder type thing for her to take to school. The design is Zelda inspired...that's kind of a theme with my wife.

First I chose the Hylian Sheild as the front cover design. I used wax paper to trace the design that I had printed out. Then I laid the wax paper on top of my damp leather and used a stylus to transfer the design. After the design was imprinted I used my swivel knife to cut the design in. I made the design on the back a simple Navi outline.

The shield and Navi pictures were both found on Google images. The outside piece of leather is 4 - 5 oz.

Step 2: Tooling

The tooling takes fooorrreeevvver. I kept it pretty simple. The shield interior is beveled to give it some depth and then given some texture. There are tons of videos online about how to use certain tools for leather so I won't go into that here. A quick note though...don't over saturate your leather while tooling it. I made that mistake and the whole piece got super warped. So to fix that I soaked it and then laid it between two boards with some paint cans holding it down. I gave it about two days to dry between the boards which straightened it out pretty well.

The last part of this step was using a groover on the edge to mark out where I would punch my holes for the stitching.

Step 3: Coloring

The recessed area of the shield got a simple dark stain to make the raised areas really pop. This step took some time and several layers to get a good dark coat. I thought about using leather paint to give it the full color treatment with blues and gold and silver but in the end I thought the two tone look would last longer and age better. I screwed up slightly and dripped the smallest drop of dye on a spot in the upper left corner of the shield. Instead of just dabbing it off I tried to wipe it of with my finger and ended up with a light streak.

Step 4: Stitching

I used various size punches to pre-punch all of the holes for stitching. After the holes were punched I laid the piece on its face and glued some hard cardboard on the three sections. I couldn't find the right kind of board so I bought a cheap 3 ring binder and cut out the board inside. Next I laid the interior layer of thinner (2 - 3 oz) leather down. Once the outer layer, board, and inner layer were bonded I punched the holes through the inner layer of leather.

For the stitching I used waxed thread. I utilized a saddle stitch method using two needles. The hand stitching took about 5 hours total. I had to keep stopping because it was murder on my fingers.

Step 5: Adding the Mechanism

The last step was to add the three ring binder mechanism. I bought a quality heavy duty binder from an office supply store and just drilled out the rivets. I marked out the holes to be punched in my binder. I temporarily used some nickel plated bolts and cap nuts to attach the mechanism for now. I am waiting for the right kind of tube rivets to show up so I can permanently rivet the mechanism into the binder.

Step 6: Epilogue

I learned a couple important lessons while making this that may help others. First, planning out the location of the designs to be better centered is something I need to work on. I had originally intended for this to be a case for my wife's Surface Pro tablet so it was going to be flatter. When I decided to make it a three ring binder the added thickness in the middle moved my shield design off center.

Second, I learned that you should dye the whole piece the base color first and then put on the darker accent color. I did the opposite and when I was dying the rest of the folder I wiped off a significant portion of the shield color and it made streaks in the non tooled areas.

All in all the folder looks pretty good and solid, and I look forward to making another one.

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is so cool


    3 years ago

    You should try the leather acrylic paint, it works well when bleeding is an issue.

    Using the embossing technique on shield would look bomb.

    Love it all the same. Will try my hand at a notebook next project, and thanks for sharing.


    3 years ago

    Very nice, and a good ible. I think I will have to make one for my music--I play the dulcimer---and maybe tool a dulcimer on the front. Thanks for the great idea!

    1 reply