DIY Leather Strap Shelves
If you've been following along the home-school/office space updates then you have seen these adorable leather strapped shelves and probably want the tea on how to make them. Yep, I'm 40 and that's the first time I've ever said anything about spilling tea in relation to deets. ya know, the 411... God, I'm getting old.
Ok, back to business. Here is a quick little tutorial for you to make your own. These are so super simple, but do require a few tools that you may not already have hiding in your toolbox (unless you are already a master Leather worker.. to which you probably don't need me.)
Leather Strips (I purchased 2 which made 4 shelf straps)
Snap Setter (24 Line Driver & Anvil)
Leather Hole Punch (Some use a drill bit, so this may be unnecessary)
Mallet Box cutter or Xacto Knife
Piece of Cardboard (optional)
Hard surface/slab of granite, quartz, etc.
Once I had all of my supplies ready to go, I started by determining how long I wanted my strap to hang. I simply wrapped the leather around my board, held it up, and said "yeah, that looks about right!" For those of you who don't trust your eyeballing skills, I cut 4 strips at 28.5" and wrote that ish down on my cardboard so that I wouldn't forget.
Next I decided that I wanted the tip to have a pointed edge, so I took my speed square, made a dot at the center, and created diagonal lines with my pencil to create a point.
I then used my box cutter (an Xacto knife works well too) to follow the lines and cut off the excess to create my pointed tip. (Just score the line a few times and it will come right off, or you can turn the leather strip on it's side and the blade will go through quite easily. I just found this a tad harder on my pointed tip pieces since it was at an angle that I needed to follow closely). As shown below, I did this step on a piece of scrap cardboard so as not to ruin the table.
Once I had my pointed tip, I needed to figure out how much would flap over to actually snap closed. As you can see written on the cardboard above, I landed on 2-3/4" overhang that would be my little snap-flap. So I measured 2-3/4" from the tip and drew a straight line here with my pencil and straight edge.
Next I simply took the bottom piece of the leather and brought it up to meet the line that I had drown so that I now had a loop formed with the pointed tip as the overhang. I went ahead and folded the extra length over and pinched it down to try and train the leather a bit to make the fold easier. This step was purely to check my work and make sure I was on the right track.
Everything looked good for me, so now it was time to create the holes. I started with the very bottom piece that would come up to meet the line that I had created. This hole would be for the screw that will be going into the wall at the stud, so I wanted this part to be hidden. I made sure to make this hole close to the edge of the strip to ensure that there would be space for the snap below it.
I took my new leather hole punching tool, which was already set on the smallest setting, and lined it up in the center towards the end of the strip. *Worth noting: I practiced with this tool on a small scrap piece before using it on this strap. I wanted to make sure there weren't any surprises and also make sure this size was appropriate for the snaps I had purchased. I highly encourage doing so just so you know what you are doing, but I have to say it's easy if you can just give it a good squeeze. **Also worth noting, I have seen others use a simple drill bit here, so if you feel that this tool is excessive then have at it with the drill!
Once I had my first hole punched, I needed to line the leather back up to my stopping line to create another hole behind it so that the wall screw would go through both of them evenly. I just took a pencil and marked my hole and then punched it out from there.
(And no, I don't actually hold pencils as shown below! When it's a one woman photo shoot holding the camera, this is what ya get!)
Next I took my snap and held it up to the leather where I wanted it to go (making sure to check the layer beneath it so that it wouldn't overlap with the wall screw holes). Once I had the spot that looked right for me, I just pushed down on the cap to create an imprint to guide my hole punch. Once I punched this hole, I followed by using my pencil again to mark the corresponding spot beneath where the male end of the snap would join the female end. I made that mark and punched there as well.
Ok quick pause: before we move forward we need to cover a little terminology quickly. Leather snaps have male and female parts. The female ends are called the cap and the socket and the male ends are called the post and the stud. I have to admit, I kept having to look this up as I was going and kept forgetting which part went where... so here is a little R rated lesson to help you remember: The male parts have the post. Think penis. Sorry, I said it, but you can remember that much right? Then its' corresponding part is the "stud". Stud sounds masculine enough right? Both are more long and narrow. Like male anatomy. The cap~ the prettiest part~ is the female. And her corresponding part is the "socket". It's more open. I'll just stop there. I don't mean for this to sound like a sex-ed class, but this really can get confusing if you don't have something to go by!
Ok, carrying on. Once I punched my holes, I then placed the female cap through the outer hole (the one at the pointed end) with her corresponding socket just beneath on the underside.
I then set the cap side down into the anvil, keeping the socket exposed. If you look closely below, you can see the small tip of the cap comes through the leather and up through the socket. This is the part that you will be hitting with your setter/driver using a mallet to basically make it "mushroom" out so that it can't back itself out of the hole.
I gave it about 3 good pounds, then I tilted the setter/driver around the edge making a circle while hammering, followed by 3 more good pounds to secure it in. At first I had purchased a set of general leather snap kit anvils and drivers... it came with quite a few, but I found that it kept ruining them. They just weren't lining up correctly so I started to do more research and figured out that I needed a specific size that I didn't seem to have. So I reordered and once that kit came along things were much more efficient! So make sure you have the correct tools for your size snaps!
I also realized at this point that hammering on something soft wasn't helpful at all. So the cardboard above had to get moved over and out came a sample of quartz that I had on hand from my design work. I get that most people don't just have quartz samples laying around but a granite/quartz countertop will do as well. (I actually watched videos where they work on a small piece of granite, so this seems to be a thing). I wouldn't suggest hammering on a nice wood or marble surface as they will definitely get scratched.
Now that I had the top part of the snap completed, I needed to add her male counterpart. So I took the post on the far underside, and threaded him up through the stud.
I repeated the hammering process from above and he was solid!
Next I snapped them together just to make sure everything was working properly. Perfect!
I repeated this entire process to create multiple straps. I was hanging 2 shelves, so I made 4 straps.
Watch The Video!
I realize that reading the words and looking at pics can sometimes makes things seem more confusing or complicated than they actually are, so here's a quick vid of the actual snap process.
Next it was time to head to the wall and see if this was going to work. First I found and marked my studs at both ends. Then I figured out the height of where I wanted my shelves to be hung and marked the wall for drilling. I used a 5/32 drill bit and made sure to hit my studs. Now with the straps unsnapped I held them up to the wall aligning the holes with the wall hole. I used 3" construction screws (bc that's what I had but anything between 1.5"-3" would work as long as you drive into the stud) making sure to have a nice tight fit.
Once the straps were in the wall I was able to snap them closed creating a perfect loop for my shelf!
Now I added the strap to the opposite end (make sure to measure and use your level for this!), and then threaded my board right through both straps! And voila! That's it! These turned out so perfectly I can't stand how cute they are!
Next I plan to make leather strap drawer pulls for a kitchen hutch I've been building! Check back in or subscribe to see those updates!