Old School Leather Company

Old School Leather Company

learn how to cut and finish edges on your own handmade leather belts


Here you will find our primitive, yet effective methods for cutting leather belt strips and finishing belt edges. Our method may make manufacturers chuckle; but we hope this page will prove useful and informative to other traditional craftsmen.

Full Grain Double Shoulder  

The most important thing to consider before starting any project is Materials. We begin making our belts using Full Grain Cow and Bull Hides. Our belts are made from one solid piece of 9 - 10 oz full grain leather.

Straighten Leatehr Edge

To make a leather belt, you must begin with a straight edge. This is not rocket science. We lay a piece of flat bar on the hide and use a utility razor knife to straighten the edge (see picture at left)

A simple and affordable hand tool is used to cut belt strips of any width after the edge is straightened (see picture on right)

Cut Belt Strip  

Whether it helps or gets in the way, sometimes we can all use a third hand...


After the belt strips are cut, it is imperative you bevel the edges. We have a "hi-tech" edger pictured at left. The tool removes a thin strip of leather from the corner of all four belt edges. The result is rounded belt edges. An inexpensive handtool is also available to complete this process. Check our Leather Supply page for sources

Most leather workers would consider the belt edges ready to be finished at this point. We have always put too much into finishing our edges. Notice in the picture below that the leather would still not be considered "smooth"

Remember, at this point, we are still only concerned with our leather belt edges. Thus, we stack the belt strips and clamp them between strips of wood. Note that the only part of the leather that is exposed is the edge. Now we are ready to condition the belt edge. We use a foam brush to apply Gum Tragacanth. The gum prepares the edge for burnishing.

The picture at right shows our homemade "slicker wheel" The wheel on the left is countersunk and attached to an old washing machine motor. The wheel on the right acts as a fence, and can be adjusted to accomodate straps of different widths. The fast spinning wheel smooths the belt edges.

The pic at left shows edges befor the slicking process. Pic at right shows smooth, burnished belt edges ready for Edge-Kote.

Finally, we stack and clamp the leather belts for a second time and apply Fiebing's Edge Kote. Now just mark and cut your strips to size and begin to tool leather belts


Go to Step Two: Tool and Dye Leather Belts

See and order our handmade leather goods

Order our handmade leather belts

Links to our favorite Leather Suppliers