You can save on materials and add more design options to your leather craft projects by cutting straps yourself. See how to use simple tools to cut leather straps.
How to Cut Leather Straps
Strips of leather known as "straps" are essential to make leather goods from belts and purses to pet and equestrian acccessories.
Making a leather strap is one of the best ways to learn how to work with leather. It allows you to take on a beginner task that could have multiple uses. Depending on the thickness of the leather and length of the strap, it could easily turn into a leather belt, a shoulder strap for a bag, a leash or harness, braids, or a strop. The choice is yours.
Making a leather strap is also one of the more straighfroward leathercraft projects you can undertake, which makes it an excellent project if you are just starting to learn leather working. All you need is some basic tools to complete the job and a little bit of practice.
MATERIALS & TOOLS FOR CUTTING LEATHER STRAPS
When choosing a leather, 8-12oz is the typical thickness for belts and other straps. A firmer temper veg tan leather will not stretch as much with time as a softer leather. You will want a piece of leather long enough for your strap. A side or bend is best.
Before cutting we recommend taking a long metal straight edge and marking your line for that first cut. This will ensure that both sides of the strap are straight and even.
Watch an overview of using a strap cutter to cut a strap out of a leather belly.
Once you have the strap cutter dialed to the width that you want, push the leather through the cutter. As the leather is getting pulled through the strap cutter you want to grab ahold of the strap.
Keep your hand steady on the cutter as you pull toward you all while keeping tension on that strap. Viola, you have a strap.
TRIMMING THE EDGE OF LEATHER STRAPS
Now that you have a strap, it could use a little trimming. Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of any loose follicles and cut the ends so they are straight and even with each other. You may want to use a beveller to round out the edges. Run the beveller along the top and bottom corners of the edge and not flat against the edge of the leather.
You can also take some medium grit sandpaper and lightly sand down the edges to smooth them out.
HOW TO PUNCH HOLES FOR A BELT
If you are making a belt, you will have to punch holes in your strap to attach and adjust the buckle. First, measure the length of your strip of leather and mark where you want to put the holes. The general rule for measuring the waist of a belt is to measure from the base of where the buckle attaches to the middle hole on the receiving end. For the length of the slot for the buckle prong, you should make it as long as the belt is wide. For example, if your belt is 1 ½” wide, you can cut the slot 1 ½” long. For the holes, a 1/8” hole punch should fit most belt buckles.
See how to cut the slot for attaching a buckle to a leather strap.
Buckleguy has Acrylic Measuring Tools for belt tabs designed to help measure out and center where to place holes and cut the tips of belts. If you have a clicker press, you could also use a specific belt tip die to cut the ends of the strap for you.
We hope this tutorial has helped you get started on cutting leather straps yourself for belts and other accessories!
Don’t worry though if you have trouble. If you do not have the time or means to cut straps for yourself, you can always buy precut straps. Ours come in 55”-60” inch lengths and a range of widths to match your use. At Buckleguy, we also offer a strap cutting service where we can cut sides down to straps for you if you would like.