Homemade Leather Belt

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** Sorry we’ve been away so long… general update is Joe and I have just had life happen to us and this slipped through the cracks. We made a plan to post more so hopefully that sticks **

So I have had the same belt since highschool because its the perfect belt. After all those years of abuse I noticed it is rather stretched and bent from getting soaked in the rain and dried and just general stretching so I went online to try to find a replacement.

I cut the tag off some years back because it itched me so I had no company to go off of to find the exact belt. I remember I bought it at target but there website didn’t have anything similar. So because I’m me I decided to make my own replacement.

I went to this great store called Tandy Leather (not an endorsement I just like the store a lot) and bought a strip long enough for me, and a buckle. I actually bought 2 belt strips and 2 buckles to make a black belt and a brown one. The black one they had strips already dyed but I bought a strip of raw leather for the brown one which I can dye myself.

So for these instructions I think the best way to proceed is to show you what I did and general things I thought of through the process so you can recreate your old belt. or just follow them exactly and build mine. Its a very good belt I promise.

BOM and Tools:
leather strip
buckle
dye and sealant (optional)
artifical sinew
leather needles
leather punch
leather burnisher (if you have a 3d printer or know someone who does you can print mine. you can find it here)
an awl (optional)

Measure and inspect everything you can.
things like width, length, thickness, hole size and spacing, curves, buckle dimensions including the hole size in the belt for the tongue of the buckle.

When I measured my old belt it was very near 1.5″ so I bought a 1.5″ strip from Tandy. I assume the leather was originally that wide before my abuse.

The Model Belt
The Buckle
Suede Bottom. Apparently Super Hard to Find
Width of Belt

I scootched the leather band to hold the excess of the belt around and I found a simple staple holding it together. I had another idea for securing this piece which you will see later. It is also necessary to measure the length of this piece.

Staple in Excess Loop

I took a look at the overlap near the buckle and estimated how long I should make it. I have the bulge in there to sort of fudge the length lost for going around the buckle.

Loop Overlap

I had a big bend in my old belt so i had to measure it on an angle like this. it came out to roughly 45″

Measure Belt Length

Cutting parts
Obviously the first cut is the length of your belt. So line that up and cut it. I prefer using a self healing mat and a rotary cutter for this job. Its an initial expense but if you do any sewing its worth it because it works great on fabric too.

Line up your cut…
… and cut

Pick the end you want your buckle to be and mark the center of the width by scratching with something mostly blunt but metal. You can use one of your needles or use an awl if you have one.

Punch the center

Line up your buckle tongue with one of the holes on your punch and select one that fits. If you need to err on the too small side because you can always enlarge it later. This will be your hole size and will create your slot for the buckle.

Select your buckle tongue size

Start by punching one hole then stepping mostly to the side length wise and punching another one. Keep checking with your buckle to get the right amount. As you can see I had to cut a bunch. I also had to widen mine by going a half diameter to the left and right. I smoothed the edges by scraping the sides with a knife.

Start Hole
Extend the hole
Widen the hole
Check fit frequently

Once you dial in your slot, dip that end in water for about a minute for it to soak. Then fold it over like it will be on the finished product and clamp it down. I used 2 scraps of wood to avoid marking the leather with the clamp. Now let that sit overnight and turn your attention to the other side of the belt.

Wet the belt
Clamp the belt and let sit overnight

 

While that’s clamped, turn towards the other end of the belt. You’ll want to cut the end to a point or whatever you want it to look like, then punch the holes for your buckle. First measure your old belt or makeup your own pitch. Mine ended up as about 1″ between each hole. Then use the same punch size from the buckle hole to punch as many holes as you desire.

Measure hole pitch
Mark for the holes
Punch holes

Burnishing

Now you can finish the edges of the belt. This is called burnishing. How I do this is wet the edges I want to burnish, then run a burnisher along the edge that I 3d printed since it seemed easy enough to design and print. I’ll upload my model to thingiverse when I’m happy with it.

Supplies:
Water
Paper towel
Burnisher
Belt

So, wet the edges and slide that tool along the edge. You’ll see what will happen. The edges will get shiny and less frayed and just look better. This isn’t something that will hurt anything so go crazy until you get the hang of it.

Wet the paper towel
Rub on belt edges
Rub the burnisher up and down the edge
A burnished edge

Make sure to do the inside of the buckle hole too.

Center hole before burnishing
After burnishing
Using the buckle helped me get into the small area of the hole

So for now put the belt down for the night then the next day or whenever get back to it.

Excess belt loop

Lets make the excess belt loop. Cut it to size by bending the leather in place and using the old belt as a reference.

Measure up the loop
Measure the width of the loop

Rather than stapling it, I decided to stitch it. I punched holes in the open ends and stitched. The best way I’ve found to do this is tie a knot and super glue it to ensure it dosen’t unravel. In a few minutes it will dry and you will be able to stitch. Make a nice strong and flat stitch here.

Punch the loop holes
Sew to connect
Knot off
Super glue

If you bought un-dyed leather now would be the time to dye it. I did not so I didn’t have to. I will have other leather projects in the near future showing how I do this but just follow the bottle instructions and it’ll come out well.

Now lets make the overlap portion for this loop. Punch holes through the overlapping portion. Put the buckle in the overlap and start with the holes closest to that. Knot these and super glue like you’ve done before. Then thread a bunch of loops around. When you’re satisfied with the number of loops tuck the loose end through the loops and leave loose for now. Do the same on the other side. With your two loose ends you can tie them together and again super glue so they don’t unravel.

Punch holes
Tie knot
Super glue
Sew loops around
Tuck excess through loop
Knot free ends
Tie and super glue

Put the loop in and do the same with the other set of holes and voila! You’re done!

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