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Leather Straps: Weight/Thickness & Finishing Edges with Beveling & Burnishing

Updated: May 10

Leather straps are a great choice for both fabric bags and full leather totes alike. The most popular strap weight we sell are the 4-5 oz weight. People love this weight because they are easy to sew, and the thickness is more in line with cotton webbing and fabric straps. However, there is really something special about strap made with 6-7 oz (and even thicker) leather!

I know. I know. If you are making a fabric bag with sew-in straps, or if you are accustomed to using a 4-5 oz weight leather, you might be concerned that thicker leather will "overpower" your project. I am here to tell you this is not necessarily the case. Just as you will find with lightweight straps, your opinion of thicker straps can vary depending on the temper (how soft and pliable the leather is).

TEMPER: Now, when we talk about temper as it relates to choosing leather for straps, it is important to consider how leather softens as it is used. So, if you start with a leather that is a bit more rigid, the chances are really high that it will relax and soften up over time (depending on the leather). With that in mind, as a general rule, for thinner straps, we like to use leather with a semi-firm temper (particularly for strap connectors). So, for a 4-5 oz weight, we will not choose a leather that is too terribly soft - unless we are backing it with another substrate such as webbing, felt, or fabric. For heavier strapss (e.g., 7-10 oz), we shy away from leather that is extremly firm. You do want something a bit rigid, but we don't want to cut our straps from a piece of leather that feels like a hard plank. Also, be mindful of using firm leather that tends to crack. Those are a bit of a bummer - trust me.

BEVELING LEATHER EDGES: Beveling the edges of your leather straps can make a big difference in how they look and how they feel in your hands. By using a beveler, you can easily remove the blunt/sharp edges of the leather giving it more of a curved feel. You will love it - especially when using thicker straps for your project. We will talk about this a bit in the video.

*Click here to purchase one of our edge bevelers.

BURNISHING: Whether you choose to bevel your edges or not, burnishing is great idea. Burnishing the edges can greatly enhance the look of your straps. It is easy to do and it generally doesn't take much time (particularly when using certain types of leather). I will demonstrate one method for burnishing in this video, but I won't go into too much detail here, as we have a blog post dedicated to this task (click here to view burnishing post).

So, here we go! Let's take those unfinished leather straps and give them a makeover!

P.S. Are your straps unfinished on the flesh side? Did you know you can use burnishing agent (e.g., Tokonole) to smooth out the flesh side of leather and give a finished look? Yes...straps that have just a little bit of fuzziness (not a totally hairy monster, but those with just a bit of roughness) can be transformed by rubbing burnishing agent on the back. More on that in a future post!😉

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