Leather Tips and Tricks

Are you new to the world of leather jewelry making? Below you will find tips and tricks for working with leather including how to measure & cut leather, the best glue to use for leather jewelry, closures to use for leather bracelets and more. Working with a natural product like leather can be tricky if you are not used to its properties.  We hope this information will help get you started. 

The Best Glue to Use with Leather

We recommend a strong, fast-drying superglue that bonds both porous and non-porous materials.  Super New Glue and Loctite Super Glue Gel Control are the most recommended glues to use when making leather bracelets.  The Super New Glue that we stock has been a customer favorite for years.  This glue is very strong and only requires 1 - 2 drops to secure metal components and closures to leather and can be purchased per bottle or a box of 25 bottles.  Loctite Super Glue Gel Control is highly recommended for making leather bracelets that use a metal clasp.  The precision tip allows you to carefully insert the glue into a clasp without spillage.  Loctite Super Glue Gel Control works great for all types of leather including flat leather, round leather, our Regaliz leather, and braided leather.  Loctite Super Glue Brush On is recommended when working with metal cuffs or flat leather frames.  These two superglues are recommendations; Over time you will find what glue you prefer to use for your products!

We do NOT recommend an epoxy or E6000, they are very difficult to work with in this type of application, and do not hold as well because they take longer to dry. The leather may pop out of the clasp or become slightly dislodged while it dries, and you end up with a crooked bracelet. 

You only need enough glue to wet the area that is to be adhered. Put a drop or two of super glue into the clasp (metal part) and then insert the leather. If you put it on the leather first, it will start to absorb and there will not be enough to latch on to the metal. To check, you can quickly pull the leather back out and ensure that it is wet around the area in contact with the metal. The glue sets up very fast so you will need to check and reinsert it very quickly.

Be careful! Check everything on your bracelet before you glue it, and immediately wipe any excess glue off of the bracelet or your fingers before it can dry. If you get glue on your fingers, or any other surface, check out this WikiHow article on various ways to remove it.

Using the right glue, and the right amount of glue, is vital for your jewelry business.  Read our blog post about the best glue to use on leather bracelets.

How to Cut Leather

To save yourself trouble and money, always inspect your leather before cutting. It may have a join or imperfection that you need to cut around, so please allow for this when you plan out your bracelets. Joins are a natural part of the leather production since a cowhide can only be so big.  As a wholesale leather distributor, we try our best to look for joins when cutting your leather, and if found, we will give you at least 7 more inches to account for the join.

It's important to avoid squishing leather or cutting it at an angle. If it is squished out of shape, then it will not fill out the clasp, and it will not stay glued. For a clean and straight cut, you need to use a very sharp and strong tool. We recommend our precision cutters as opposed to a wire cutter or box cutter. They cut through the leather like butter and do not squish it out of shape.  The precision cutters are perfect for cutting thick Regaliz leather.  They are also great for cutting thick 5mm - 6mm round leather and our plain flat leathers.  

Although they are great for most of our leather, they are not the best tool for all of our leather.  We recommend using sharp leather scissors for cutting round leather, braided leather (both flat and round), Indian leather, deerskin lace, and leather hides.  Some of our specialty leathers, such as Hair On Leather, Zipper Leather, Stitched Leather, and Ball Chain Leather will also cut better with very sharp scissors.  When cutting leather like this, try to cut between stitches or the chain with quality scissors for a clean cut.

Remember—measure twice, cut once!

Measuring Leather for Bracelets

Use a ruler to measure your desired length of leather and then cut using a precision cutter or scissors.  Keep in mind that if you are using magnetic clasps, you will lose some length inside the clasp so make sure to account for that.  If you are working with flat leather and magnetic clasps, you can insert the leather into one side of the clasp (without glue) and then measure with your ruler to get a more accurate measurement.  

The most common wrist size is 7" so most of our customers use this size as the standard when making leather bracelets.  If you are planning on carrying an entire line of leather bracelets, you may want to stock a variety of sizes for your customers ranging from petite to large - 5.5" - 9"+.  Another option is to create custom sizes for individual orders.  This is an option for customers who sell leather bracelets at craft fairs or online marketplaces like Etsy.  This can include measuring, cutting, and gluing the bracelet in person or asking the customer to measure their wrist and than select their measurement.  Custom sizes can be especially helpful when working with certain magnetic and connector clasps, which hold their closure best if the bracelet is snug on the wrist.  If you sell in person, you can always cut the bracelet to be on the larger size, and only glue one end of the closure. Then you can trim it to fit the customer and glue it when they buy it. This is more ideal for smaller, handcrafted jewelry businesses.  Read more here on sizing bracelets to fit men and women.

Certain clasps require a length that can be a little tricky to figure out at first, such as the L-CL-24 (horseshoe clasp) or the half-cuff clasps. We recommend you insert one leather end and wrap the leather around the closure to estimate the length you need, then trim as needed until it is perfect.

Whatever you do, do not glue anything into a new clasp until you have checked the size! Then you can use the leather from your first bracelet as a guide to quickly measure out the rest of the leather.

When determining the size of your bracelet, you should take into account the length of the clasp you are using, as some clasps are longer than others.  

Be Mindful of Leather Variations

Since leather is a natural product, it may vary in size, even leather from the same spool. This is due to natural differences in the hides that cause it to react in different ways during the tanning and dyeing process. Please understand that this is something we cannot fully control, and you will need to take these sizing differences into account during your creation process. We recommend having a variety of leather colors, sliders, and beads so that you can determine which pieces fit best together. Some sliders and clasps will fit better on a thicker cut of leather, while others work best with smaller cuts.

If you find slight variations in thickness of your leather and are having difficulties fitting it into a clasp, you can pinch the ends carefully using a pair of flat-nosed pliers to lightly compress the leather. This should give it just enough room to fit into the clasp.  This is only recommended for very slight variations in the leather thickness.  Once again, do not try to squish or squeeze leather into a clasp - it will not glue properly and may fall out.  

Another option is to shave a bit of leather off with an x-acto knife. Please be careful! You must leave a square end if you do this. Your goal is to just remove a bit of thickness around the entire width of the bottom, and not to whittle it to a point. If the bottom is not left flat and square, it will not fit in to the clasp properly and the glue will not hold it.

Metal Components and Closures to Use for Leather Bracelets and Jewelry

We offer a variety of metal components and clasps to use with leather for jewelry making.  You can shop bracelet closures for flat leather, round leather, and Regaliz leather at wholesale prices. 

Magnetic Closures 

Clasps that close with magnets are our most popular leather bracelet closures, as they are easy to take on and off.  We offer magnetic closures for Regaliz, flat, and round leather.  

Pros of using magnetic clasps for leather bracelets: 

  • Magnetic clasps are strong, especially when they feature a lip for extra security
  • They are easy to take on and off
  • They offer a clean, simple look for leather bracelets
Cons of using magnetic clasps for leather bracelets:
  • They are not adjustable. The bracelet must be the right size for customers
  • While it's not very common, there is a possibility of the magnet falling out

Some more information regarding magnetic clasps...

Like all magnetic jewelry, it is possible for the magnets to come unglued over time. The magnets are very strong and constantly pull at the glue bond when the clasp is opened and closed. Should a magnet fall out, it is usually stuck to the other side and is easy to glue back in. Make sure you are gluing the correct polarity down! Otherwise the magnets will repel and the clasp will not work again. We recommend putting a dot from a sharpie on the underside of the loose magnet before you pull it off the other side. Then you know to glue that side down.

The first time a person tries to undo a magnetic clasp, they may have trouble. There is a slight knack to it. With the thumb, hold the bottom part of the clasp down. Use the other fingers to pull the top of the clasp off at an angle. It is a twisting motion and not a direct pull upward. 

You may find that a freshly made bracelet does not want to stay closed. This is because the leather is trying to straighten out, and it is putting too much torque on the clasp. Gently fold and squeeze the bracelet into the rounded bracelet shape. Once the leather has softened up into the bracelet shape, it will not pull on the clasp as much.

Additionally, a very small bracelet will put a lot of torque on a large clasp. It is not a good idea to use a long clasp on a short bracelet. 

Some customers put a drop of super glue over the magnets of their clasps, to seal in the magnet and ensure that it will never come out. There is no downside to this, other than the extra time it takes. If you sell to high-end boutiques and charge a premium for your bracelets, we do recommend taking this extra step. Simply open the clasps and lay them out with the magnets facing upward. Make sure to keep the two sides of the clasps paired as you received them - sometimes the magnets vary in polarity between sides, and if you mix them up you will have a hard time matching them up again. Then, put a small bit of glue on the magnet, letting it seep over the edges of the magnet and into the bevel of the clasp, but be careful not to make a mess of the metal. You can quickly wipe off any excess glue on the metal. You are aiming for a very thin layer of glue, and not anything that will pool or thicken and interfere with the closure. Let the clasps dry for at least 15 minutes, but preferably a few hours or overnight.

Don't want to deal with any glue?  No problem - we have a variety of flat leather clasps that have the magnets mechanically inset. This means the metal is crimped around the magnet, which holds it in place. You can shop all the mechanically inset magnets here

Quality of our Metal Components and Clasps

Most of our metal clasps are made of zinc plated with 99.9% sterling silver or brass or copper.  All of our leather components are made in molds, then tumbled and coated in their finishes. Occasionally a piece may not come out of the mold cleanly, and there may be metal missing. If we do not catch this before you receive it, please let us know! Please keep in mind that these components are hand-made in artisan factories, and therefore the finish may not be as flawless as mass-produced pieces. Some seams or evidence of the mold process are to be expected, and are part of the charm of handmade, artisan items.

The components are tumbled with small white or grey ceramic pieces. These may occasionally become lodged in the opening of the clasp or spacer. They can be easily removed with pliers. If you see these pieces in your metal component, please know that it is NOT a piece of “leftover leather from a return” and it is not a defect. If you cannot remove the pieces, please let us know.

We are, of course, always happy to replace defective pieces! Please send us an email with a photo of the problem. You are also always welcome to email or call us if an item is not working how you expected, so we can help you make the best use of it.

Designing Leather Jewelry

We field a lot of questions about what pieces people should buy. This is entirely up to you! You know your customer base and your own personal design aesthetic much better than we do. The "best" pieces and colors to buy are simply the ones that you like best. The only advice we can offer is that neutrals always sell well, and buyers generally prefer symmetrical designs. It's not the best idea to throw 5 completely different sliders onto a bracelet and call it a day. Typically, the Regaliz® style bracelets are designed with a larger focal bead and a few smaller sliders and o-rings around it. However, the sky is the limit with our leather bracelets—there is an infinite number of styles combinations possible with our vast line, so use your imagination and come up with something you love.

We do offer a collection of our most popular sliders, leathers and clasps to help you make choices if you're overwhelmed :) 

Keeping sliders in place

Sometimes a slider may be a little loose on the leather. There are a few approaches to dealing with this:

  1. Glue the slider to the leather. We do not recommend this, as it may become unglued over time and the glue spot will pull up the dye from the leather. However we have many customers who always glue their sliders, so it is up to you.
  2. Use o-rings. This is our preferred method, as it adds an extra pop of color and is a practical way to hold your sliders in place. It also helps space our your sliders, if you have one that is trying to push under another one.
  3. Use smaller sliders to hold loose ones in place. You may find some tight-fitting sliders that you can use as the end pieces in your design, and these will keep any wayward sliders in place.
  4. Push small sliders under taller ones. If you have a slider that is popping up, try putting a smaller one on either side of it and pushing them under the slider. You can see examples of this here and here.
  5. Use crimpable sliders! We now offer some designs that can be crimped over the leather. Use them as end pieces to hold your design perfectly in place.