Workshop Wednesday: How to Make a Leather Key Ring

By Liz Young

Making a leather key ring is a simple, fun project you can do at home. These make great gifts that can be personalized, or just make one for yourself! You can get supplies from most craft stores, online, or you can shop local at independent leather shops. All materials for this project came from Tandy Leather Factory in Deer Park, TX. Their website is: http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/home.aspx

Materials and Tools Needed

1/2" Wide Leather Strips

Mini Punch Set, or Rotary Punch

Rivets

Rivet Setters

Rivet Setting tool

Mallet

Key chain Rings

Cutting Board

Leather Cutting Scissors or Exacto Knife

Hard Surface to work on

Optional: Leather Stamps or Acrylic Paint for decorating

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There are many different types and colors of leather to choose from. Latigo is durable and stands up to the elements very well, while raw leather is softer, and can be easily pressed with stamps. It's really about personal preference, but for this project, I used Oxblood colored Latigo strips.  

1/2" wide Oxblood Latigo strip

1/2" wide Oxblood Latigo strip

Rivets come in many sizes and colors as well. Be sure to get the double-capped rivets, and that they will be able to fit through 2 layers of your leather strip without much extra space left over. This key ring will have pewter colored, large, double-capped rivets.  

Large Double Capped-Rivet (left) and Rivet Setter (right)

Large Double Capped-Rivet (left) and Rivet Setter (right)

Step 1: If you have a long strip of leather, measure out 6 inches, mark a faint dash with a pen, and lay leather flat on the cutting board. Use your exact-o knife to cut straight line to create your piece or pieces. 

Step 2: Some leather can be very tough, so bend the strip in various spots a few times to loosen up the fibers. 

Step 3: Lay your strip flat, shiny side up. Measure the exact middle at 3 inches. One half inch from the middle, on either side, mark a dot right in the center of the 1/2" strip with a pen or a sharpie. 

Step 4: You are now ready to punch! Hold the punch tool steady and straight on top of the 1/2" mark from the center. Use your mallet to hit the tool a couple of times until you see the tool sink into the leather. 

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Step 5: Twist and pull your leather punch tool out from your strip. You should have a hole you can see through. Repeat this on the other mark you made 1/2 inch from the center.

 

Step 6: With your leather strip facing raw side up, loop your keychain ring onto your strip and place in the center. Place Rivet inside one hole you have made, entering through the finished leather side first. It should look like this:  

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Step 7: Fold leather strip over the key ring, lining up the ends and the two holes together. Your rivet should now be able to fit through both strips of leather.

Step 8: Get out your rivet setter, and rivet setting tool, it's time to finish your project! Holding the folded leather in place, place your rivet setter in the hole and on top of your rivet. 

Step 9: Place rivet setting tool on top of your rivet setter- your tool will have a curved end which fits right onto the rivet to hold it in place.

Step 10: Get out your mallet again, and hit firmly 2 - 3 times, being sure not to damage your rivets:  

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You should now have a finished product that looks similar to this! Check to see if your rivet is secure by pulling at either side of the leather. Your pieces should not come apart at all. Now, cut, stamp, or paint it to personalize it and make it your own! Stay tuned for next week's Workshop Wednesday blog!

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