You can easily make a minimal leather wallet for yourself or to sell as custom products! Leather working is super fun and really accessible. With really simple tools you can make amazing things out of leather!
A few months ago, I made my first attempt at a minimal wallet. While it totally worked, it revealed some shortcomings in the overall design. The wallet’s structure is a small rectangle with slots for cards on both sides, sewed on three edges. The open edge allows me to place loose cash inside the wallet. Over time, I realized that the wallet had too much extra material and my seams needed to be cleaner. Any extra leather or stitching would rub and fray when I pulled the wallet from my pocket.
Before I cut any of my leather, I decided to make a template out of paper and fold it up to see if the design would work. I used my debit card as my base and tried to make the wallet as close to this form factor as possible. While totally not necessary, I used my laser cutter to make my templates for the different pockets. The base leather panel will be folded onto itself making the cash pocket and the card slots will be attached to either side. I transferred the template to my leather and cut out the panels with a box cutter.
Before I glued the panels together, I used some walnut leather dye to turn the light leather into a darker brown. Once dried, I used barge cement around the edges and stacked the panels on top of each other. The glue is quite strong, but wouldn’t be strong enough without some stitching. I used my offset marking tool to scribe a channel along the edges of the wallet that needed to be sewn. The fork tool was super helpful when making the perfectly spaced stitching holes.
While I do have a leather sewing machine from our friends at Weaver Leather, I decided to do some hand stitching. I placed the glued wallet, not yet folded over onto itself, in my saddle vice and did a saddle stitch along the punched holes. Once each side was stitched, I folded the wallet together and sewed the top and bottom edges together, leaving the one open side.
Leather is a super easy material to use because you can glue it, stain it, cut it, and sand it pretty easily. To even up the finished sides, I sanded the edges smooth and applied some gum tragacanth. This sealer closes up the leather edges and when you burnish them with a wooden tool, they harden to sturdy coating. Before adding some condition oil, I decided to use my laser cutter to brand my wallet. Burning leather totally stinks, but it looks amazing. You can heat up a metal tool and burn on a custom design pretty easily. After the laser finished, I rubbed in some conditioning oil and let the finished wallet dry before adding all my stuff.
Leather is So Fun to Work With!
I am so happy that I made the investment in leather working. It is such a fun material and really accessible to anyone. Yes, I do have a lot of expensive leather tools, this video shows that you don’t have to heavily invest in this hobby. Leather is durable, yet easy to handle and the tools last a really long time. I finished this entire minimal leather wallet in a day and it immediately solved one of my daily problems. If you have an idea for a cool project that could be done in leather, don’t be intimidated; jump right in! Get a free template to make your own!
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Finishes & adhesives I like: