DIY – Leather Valet

Leather Valet

Leather valets are a hit right now; and why not? It’s a very stylish way to organize your life. There are lots of different styles to choose from, but the simplest is just a piece of leather with the corners pinched together. It’s so simple in fact, that anyone can do it. All you need to get started is a piece of leather, some basic hand tools, and something to pinch the corners together (we have options here and we’ll talk about them when the time comes).

sizing leather valet

For your piece of leather, you need something thick enough and firm enough to hold its shape. I’m using some 4 ounce (leather thickness is measured in ounces) vegetable tanned leather. Also, I decided not to dye mine because it will change color with age if it is left alone; in fact, the leather notebook cover in the picture is simply a piece of natural vegetable tanned that has changed color with use. You can dye your vegetable tanned leather easily, buy it pre-finished, or opt to use a different kind of leather that is the color and texture you are looking for.

The next step is to decide how big you need to make it. In this case, I took the items I planned to store in the valet, laid them out and measured their footprint, then I added an inch in every direction to accommodate the sides.

leather valet laid out

Once I knew my size, it was time to draw it onto the leather. Though you can use a pen, I prefer to use a blunt metal point which leaves an indent that is easy to follow without having to worry about ink bleeding or smearing elsewhere on the leather. You can see my tool at the bottom of the picture: a wooden dowel with a cut off knitting needle through it. I also used my knitting needle embosser to draw the folding lines on the leather, this will make the leather more readily fold along those lines and better hold the shape.

Knives for cutting leather

The next step is to cut out the leather. There are specialty knives, like the head knife on the left  or the wood carvers knife on the right, but a simple X-acto knife with a new blade will do the trick.

Creasing the Leather Valet

Next, I folded the leather leather on the embossed the line. This is to encourage the leather to hold the desired shape when the corners are pinched together.

Sewing option

Rivet Option

Here, you have some options on how you want to pinch the corners together. You can sew them together with a needle and thread or with a tool like the Speedy-Stitcher. Another option, and my method of choice, is riveting. Riveting might seem difficult but it is really quite simple (check out the rivet tutorial) and you can buy copper rivets individually at your local hardware store (don’t forget the little copper washers that go with them).

placing the rivets

The hardest part of riveting is deciding where to put them. Depending on their location, your sides will slope in, slope out, or be vertical. Just remember, the rivets will actually pinch and hold the leather together about an 1/8 inch beyond the edge of the rivet head , so it’s always a good idea to buy a few extra rivets and practice on a scrap piece of leather.

punching rivet holes

When you have your rivet location decided you need to make some holes for the rivet. I’m using a revolving hole punch. You can buy something similar at a good hardware store or, if you are feeling courageous, you can cut the holes carefully with the tip of an X-acto knife.

rivets in leather

Now put your rivets in and smash them down tight.

Riveted Corner

Now that you have made your first leather valet, what’s next? A hexagon valet? Or maybe you can just fill it with the little things of life and enjoy!

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