When it comes to wallets, the market spoils you with choices.
Yet, none will guarantee the uniqueness of the model.
If you want to stand out and have some craftsman skills, you can make your own leather wallet.
It sounds scary, doesn’t it? Well, the truth is that it’s simpler than it may seem. Wondering how to do it?
Here’s how to make a leather wallet in 15 easy steps.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Gather All Necessary Tools and Supplies
Every good project starts with a bit of preparation work. In our case, you’ll have to gather all the necessary tools and supplies.
The materials below suffice for a small, minimalist wallet that’s still big enough to hold plenty of cards and cash.
If you want to make a bigger wallet, a quick browse will reveal dozens of templates and quantity of supplies you might need.
Getting back to our wallet, you’ll need:
- Leather – preferably vegetable tanned, 4oz weight
- Leather knife
- Stitching groover
- Stitching pony
- Sewing awl
- Waxed thread
- Edge slicker
- Rubber mallet
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Spray bottle
- Leather oil
- Leather cement
- Thin cardboard
- Cutting mat
Step 2: Cut Your Pattern
I already told you that there are dozens of wallet templates and patterns you can choose from, but this unisex angled card holder is easy to make by both inexperienced and advanced users. It measures 9.5 by 4 inches and can hold up to 8 cards.
To cut your pattern, print the template first.
Lay the leather on the cutting mat and place the template on top of it.
Use the ruler to keep the lines straight and a sharp knife or cutter to cut the shape of the wallet. You could technically use a scissor too, but it’s simpler to cut the template with a leather knife.
Pour a few drops of leather oil onto a clean cloth and lightly oil the side of the leather once you’ve cut it, to prevent it from drying.
At this stage, you should also smoothen out the short edges with a bit of gum tragacanth and a slicker, until the edges have become slightly dark, smooth and sleek.
Step 3: Make Side and Middle Folds
Like any wallet, this DIY leather wallet will have fold lines. The easiest way to make them is by dampening the lines with a little warm water before folding over.
Clamp the folds in place to shape the leather in place and let dry.
Because the 4 oz. leather shows off any imperfections quite quickly, it is essential to fold the side lines perfectly from the first time.
Do the same for the middle line, clamp in place, and wait for the leather to dry.
Keep in mind that you can correct any imperfections by dampening the leather again and stretching it with a rubber mallet. However, the process is laborious.
Once all edges line up nicely and the leather is dry, remove the clamps and continue with the following step.
Step 4: Make the Inside Pockets
This wallet template features two inside pockets, marked out on the template above.
To make them, you will first have to groove the stitching lines with a groover on the side folds.
You can achieve excellent results if you’re working with dry leather and don’t speed up the process.
Once you’ve marked the grooves, glue down the pockets.
To ensure the accuracy of the results, use a piece of paper or tape as a guide for the glue, and only apply it along the edge of the inside pocket. Otherwise, it could be hard to make punching holes and sew the wallet.
Make sure to clamp the pockets until the glue is dry, then use a diamond chisel to punch the sewing holes, but don’t sew the pockets yet.
Step 5: Groove and Punch the Rest of the Wallet
Now that you have the inside holes place the wallet on a piece of cardboard with the inside holes up and use a sharp awl to punch all the way through the leather.
Pay attention to the angle, and make sure all punches are straight, or the stitch will look awful.
Once you’ve punched all the edges, switch to a grooving tool.
Use the holes you made with the awl as a guide and groove the outside of the wallet, making sure this groove matches the one you already made in the inside.
While the best results are achieved on dry leather, you can damp it a little to ease up the process if you want to.
Once you’ve made the grooves, switch back to the awl and punch the holes again, so you can speed up sewing.
Step 6: Stitch the Wallet
With all the grooves done, stitching the wallet shouldn’t be complicated.
However, you should oil the leather first to make sure it’s manageable enough to obtain flawless stitches.
To do this, use a clean cloth soaked in leather oil and pass it over the leather.
Make sure you applied sufficient oil to the stitching grooves, then pass to the stitching needle and thread.
Stitch the interior pockets first, then the edges, making sure that the needle goes through both sides. For the best results, it is ideal to double stitch your wallet.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
The wallet is almost finished, but you should still take care of the finishing touches.
With fine grit sandpaper, sand down the long sides of the wallet, making sure they are as smooth as possible.
Continue sanding until the edges are perfectly parallel with the pockets’ line, then burnish the long edges just like you did with the short ones.
Now, your wallet should be all nice and smooth.
Treat the leather with a generous layer of oil and enjoy your creation!
Wrapping It All Up
Now that you know how to make a leather wallet, all you have to do is pick the model you like best, gather all the materials, and engage in your creative project.
Remember that leather becomes much more manageable if you damp it with warm water while working.
Nevertheless, you should pay attention during the process and try to get everything right from the start.
With that in mind, anyone should be able to make a beautiful leather wallet.