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 (leather) and non-porous (metal) 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 clasps to leather and can be purchased per bottle or a box of 25 bottles. Loctite Super Glue Gel Control is also highly recommended for making leather bracelets that use a metal clasp. The precision tip allows you to carefully insert the glue into a clasp hole 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, to provide an even coating of glue. These two superglues are recommendations; over time you will find what glue you prefer to use!
We do NOT recommend an epoxy or E6000, they are very difficult to work with in this type of application. Epoxy and E6000 take much longer to dry, so the leather may pop out of the clasp or become crooked while it dries.
You only need enough glue to wet the area that is being glued. Too much glue will ooze out of the clasp and damage the visible leather. Put a drop or two of super glue into the hole of the clasp (metal part) and then insert the leather. If you put glue on the leather first, it will start to absorb and there will not be enough to latch on to the metal.
TIP: To check if you have used enough glue, 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.
TIP: If you accidentally put too much glue in your clasp, tip it over onto a piece of scrap paper and knock the excess out.
Be careful! Check everything on your bracelet before you glue it, and immediately wipe any excess glue off of the leather, clasp, 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.
How to Cut Jewelry Leather
To save yourself time 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 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.
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, and it's much safer than trying to saw through the leather with a craft knife. The precision cutters are perfect for cutting thick Regaliz leather, 5mm - 6mm round leather, and our plain flat leathers.
TIP: A sharp cutter is a safe cutter. Using dull blades will make you squeeze the tool harder and could cause the leather to shift out of place. We sell replacement blades for the cutters.
Although our leather cutters are great for most of our leather, they are not the best tool for all leather. We recommend sharp, high-quality craft scissors or leather scissors for cutting small round leather, wide flat leather (15mm+), flat braided 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 ornamental leather, cut between stitches or the chain links for a clean cut.
TIP: Remember—measure twice, cut once! Put your design together and dry-fit it before cutting to the final length.
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 varied reactions during the tanning and dyeing process. Please understand that this is something we cannot fully control, and you will need to keep these sizing differences in mind 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 thinner cuts.
If you find slight variations in the thickness of your leather and are having trouble fitting it into a clasp, you can squeeze the ends using a pair of flat-nosed pliers to compress the leather. This should give it just enough room to fit into the clasp. 1mm can make a big difference in jewelry making!
Another option is to shave a bit of leather off with an X-acto knife. Please be careful! You must leave a square end; your goal is to remove a bit of thickness around the entire circumference, and not to whittle the end to a point. If the bottom is not left flat and square, it will not fit into the clasp properly, and the glue will not hold.
TIP: Do not try to squish or jam leather into a clasp if it's not fitting - it will not glue properly and may fall out. Try a different clasp or alter the end of the leather to fit.
Clasps for Leather Jewelry
We carry hundreds of clasp options for round and flat leather jewelry. By far the most popular is the magnetic clasps. They are incredibly easy to use and a customer favorite!
- Easy to use - just glue leather into the ends
- Very secure
- Easy to put on - just let the magnets snap together
- Magnets may fall out, but can easily be repaired
- Slight learning curve to opening the clasp
The first time a person tries to open a magnetic clasp, they may have trouble. There is a knack to it. Hold the bottom part of the clasp still, and lift the top of the clasp off at an angle. It is a twisting motion and not a direct pull upward.
The two halves of the magnetic clasp do not "pull apart". Do not grab the ends of the leather and yank, or you may break the bracelet.
TIP: When wearing a bracelet, use your thumb to hold the bottom clasp down against your wrist. Use your index finger to twist and lift the top clasp off.
Help! My Bracelet is popping open
You may find that a freshly made bracelet does not want to stay clasped. This is because the leather is trying to straighten out, and it is putting too much torque on the clasp. Using just your hands, 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.
TIP: It's good practice to soften up the leather in your hands before attaching the clasp, especially with thick Regaliz leather.
A very small bracelet will put a lot of torque on a large clasp. It is not a good idea to make children's bracelets out of thick Regaliz, as the clasp will become difficult to use. Use smaller leather, since it has correspondingly smaller clasps.
Keeping Sliders in Place
Sometimes a slider may be a little loose on the leather. There are a few approaches to dealing with this:
- Glue the slider to the leather. We no longer 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's up to you.
- Use o-rings. This adds an extra pop of color and is a practical way to hold your sliders in place. It also helps space out the sliders, if you have one that is trying to push under another one.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use crimp sliders. FINALLY! The miracle we've all been waiting for!Leather crimp sliders can be physically crimped down from the underside, securing it on the bracelet. They are great to use as end pieces in a design to hold everything in place.