Of blasters, and droids. (a work in progress)

A Crash Course in Leatherworking!

Good thing I got the Leather Working Merit Badge!

###Except not, because that taught me nothing other than how to use stamps…

I have worn leather belts before. I have also wrapped strips of leather around handles to make them look cooler. None of this really prepared me for my latest project. Fortunately it really is pretty simple.

##Epic Back Story Time!

Recently I read this article on TheArtofManliness:

The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook (love that site, go check it out)

Normally I would be kinda, meh. However, in a few short months I will be setting out for the strange land of Piracicaba, Brazil. While there on my LDS Mission, I will no longer be able to carry a phone, tablet, and e-reader at all times. So I decided now would be a good time to become aquanted with the ancient art of “paper”

I bought a bunch of Black Field Notes, and I think they fit the bill. However, I know my back pocket will destroy them (if my wallet is anything to go by).

Soooo Black.

##An Answer Presents Itself Buckle up, this ones gonna get long.

Originally I was thinking of something like this

Super Expensive Leather Cover!

And that would be awesome. Just one problem, I bought Field Notes, Not a Moleskine So I wouldn’t be able to use the cool elastic thing.

No big deal Field Notes themselves sell a few leather covers designed specifically for Field Notes! Wait. They are 85$. Forget it! That is even more than SaddleBack, which is always expensive.

There are a variety of cheap ones on Etsy and the like, but we are looking at at least 40$ and very few are exactly what I want.

###Noah, Why Did You Bother to Show Me all of That?

Well, don’t you see? These are all expensive, or not perfect. There is but one obvious solution! I need to make one myself! (cheaply and in my own idiom)

###But Noah, that sounds hard!

Get of my site. Now.

##Yay For DIY Nonsense!

I decided what I wanted was a leather cover that would hold one book and stay closed without obstructing the cool inside of the Field Notes Covers (they have contact info and a ruler and stuff!) Also a bookmark.

##Mark 0

After some quick sketching I made a (really lame) paper prototype


I always start with paper. I figured out the approximate size and that the easiest way to hold the notebook would be with a cord running down the inside spine like a Midori Travelers notebook. Sturdy, but easy to replace.

It's Replaceable!

##Mark 1

Having Determined this, I still needed a way to keep it closed, and a fancy bookmark. So I experimented with a spare (hideous) Field Notes I had lying around.


I like the elastic closing (blatantly stolen from Moleskines) and the idea of some sort of twine bookmark. Ribbon bookmarks just end up fraying and creasing and stuff.


I also experimented with a Moleskine Style pocket in the back (not that you can see that in the pictures).


##Mark 2 ###This Times For Realsys

Firstly let’s talk about leather. It comes in many thicknesses which is traditionally measured in ounces for some odd reason. I don’t have time for that madness, so this came in handy.

Why Ounces???

I used a piece of 2-3oz leather for a balance between thin and stiff.

At some point in this process I stumbled across this (long) YouTube Video, which is similar to what I want.

You can watch the whole thing, or just keep reading.

Cut a piece of leather to the size you want (use a sharp knife. I used 210mm x 150mm (~8.25”x6”) for my field notes sized book, adjust to fit your needs.

Find the center line and punch two holes at the top and two at the bottom, but skip the middle hole


(video 9:10-10:30) I used a fancy hole punch but you can also use a leather punch or simply an awl (or anything else sharp and pointy)

The guy in the video does exactly what I want at least as far as the Midori-esque stitching. (11:00-15:00) I didn’t bother with a needle or anything, I just shoved the rope through. Just tie your loose ends, and you have something to insert your book into.


I ended up using entirely leather cord (like what they use on necklaces) instead of elastic cord, I tied it nice and tight (but not too tight, or the books wont fit) and it seems to work fine, and look cooler. I also copied his bookmark design (watch 20:00ish). Basically just tie more cord around the top two loops and the excess becomes a bookmark.


To round your corners, either cut around something round (metal washer)or just use some nail clippers (have to push pretty dang hard)


Figuring out how to attach the elastic was all me. I used this white elastic (instead of black) because it was the only color I had!

I punched two holes in the back cover and tied a simple loop in the elastic. Works like a charm. (Cell phone pics, sorry) My first holes were to close to the edge, and the elastic was sliding off the corners, I would recommend going about 30mm in



Some detailing with leather stamps to make it mine. I would recommend wiping down the leather with water first (holds the stamp better) and you should just do the whole book to keep the color the same.


Lastly I tried to do some edge finishing following this guide. It sure did help, but I had basically none of the proper tools. I will maybe re-visit this part if I get better tools.

I hope this helps someone with similar desires to me. End product is pretty cool.


comments powered by Disqus