Leather Wallets

Competitions, DIY, New Item, Shop Stuff

After making a card holder for my wife (here) I thought that I should upgrade my own wallet (see below). My confidence in working with lasers and leather is slowly growing and I thus decided to make, not only one, but 7 wallets. Below I will show all the steps for making one of these. I am happy with the final product and will keep the first (the prototype) for myself.

Photos of the finished product:

I will also give a wallet or card holder away – more information on the give away here. You are of course welcome to buy one, they are available here.


One of these currently up for grabs!

Steps to make a leather wallet (the steps I took – not necessarily by the book):

A with everything the project begins with an idea. I also spend a fair bit of time on looking at YouTube videos of making wallets and looked at many many many wallets online. I could not find something that exactly fit what I wanted to make and created my own design. I make some ugly scratches of this to ensure that all the dimensions are right.


All the planning done.

I wanted a wallet with card slots and a place for money but only wanted to have 2 layers of leather. I also wanted it to be a bi-fold wallet. Most of the designs I looked at had more than 2 layers of leather. I thus created this design (this it probably not new I just could not find something made in this way).

Since I wanted to make a several wallets simultaneously I spend a day getting all the images and quotes. I had some help.


Kameel – helping out??

After the designs were ready I cut the leather.


I love this rotary cutter – best way for me to cut leather.

This is followed by engraving and the cutting of the individual pieces.


Closeup of cutting laser cutting.


First one engraved and cut.


The prototype worked – now 6 more.

A quick cleanup (just wiping the edges with towel paper) is followed by staining. I made a light red stain a long time ago. This means that I do not know exactly how much the original red stain is diluted. Some people may think this is sad. I think this is awesome since these wallets can never be reproduced exactly and will be unique 🙂


Just a light bit of stain.


I stain the inside where the satin is stitched also – this way no unstained leather will show.

I burnish the slots with a small burnishing tool that fit exactly. The top of both inner and outer parts were also burnished. This is where the wallet will open. The other sides will be glued and stitched together and burnished after this has been done.


Adding some soft wax just between the slots prior to burnishing.


Slots and top edge burnished.

My small set of burnishing tools is increasing in number. I should note that these are all home made. It is merely a stick with a nail glued in place (or in the case of the small one – just a stick). Grooves are sanded into them as wide I they need to be for the specific project.


Home made burnishing tools

I love cutting silk using the laser cutter – which was the following step.


Silk to make pockets and line the inside.

With all the pieces ready the slow process of assembly begins. I start by making the top 2 card pockets (the lower pocket is created by  stitching the outer and inner pieces together – I explain how these pockets are made in more detail here or have a look at this video).


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The inner silk is glued and then stitched in place. It is only partly stitched. The rest of the stitches follow when both outside and inside pieces of the wallet is stitched together.

The process is similar for the outer part. The silk is glued in place and the top and bottom stitched where the inner and outer parts do not overlap.


Silk lining glued in place – outer part and inner part


The sewing machine I use – Singer made around 1910.


Silk stitched in place

The nylon thread is cut and melted to stay in place.


Melting the ends of the thread.

The outer and inner parts are then glued and stitched together. First the one side then the other.


Glued and clamped.


One side stitched.


View from the inside.

Here I had a small problem with the sewing machine. The upper thread kept on breaking. Initially, I solved the problem by first making holes with the sewing machine without thread and then sew a second time with thread. Although this worked it was of course not optimal. After some searching I found the user manual and I was able to correct problem. The tension of the top thread needed to be adjusted and the problem is now resolved.


Short term solution.


Better solution – read the manual.


All stitching done

I lightly sand the glued edges (not the sinlge edges that have already been burnished). This is followed by burnishing of these edges.


Beautiful edge.

The wallet is in essence now completed and the last thing is to treat it with some leather conditioner. I add a liberal amount to the outer inner leather and leave it on for 10-20 minutes. This is wiped off with a clean cloth and the wallet is lightly polished.


Wax on.


Wax off.

I was planning to make a new wallet for myself for over a year now. I would have done this even without the laser cutter or the sewing machine. These items just allowed me to make a different type of wallet than I otherwise would and I do not feel that any specialized machine is needed to make stuff. This said, as soon as you start making stuff tools seem to increase around you.


The reason for this project – my old worn wallet, falling apart a bit.

A brand new wallet


There are a few small things I would change if I were to make these again. First, I would move the stitches closer to the edge (from 5 to 3 mm). I will also change the arch of the line where to to be exactly the same as the arch of the corner itself. This is something very minor and would probably not be noticeable. I will also try different staining colors – just for fun.






Leather Card Holder


My wife, Carina, asked me to use the make her a card holder. She wanted one that could hold up to 8 cards, be as small as possible, have a sciency theme and her name and address on it. I thus spend a few hours looking at YouTube tutorials on how to make leather wallets to get some ideas, techniques and inspiration. This is the most complex leather item I have made (I made some leather printed chess sets and one very simple bag – but have very little other experience working with leather). I learned a lot during this project but also made several mistakes. There is also probably a lot that I did wrong that I do not even know about…and the next one will be much better. I do however like the way it looks and more importantly, Carina is very happy with it.

Update – I had several requests and thus made quite a number of these (with various images). They are now for sale here.

Here are a few a photos of the finished product.



Update: Here are some of the others I made one week later (get them here):



The first step is, as always, to generate a rough idea of what is needed. I measured some cards and sketched a rough idea of how is should look (while consulting with the “client”). I heard that my wife would like to have chocolate with this card holder and found the appropriate molecule on the web. I also found a site that allows you to write stuff using the periodic table (http://www.lmntology.com/) and made the image for the back.


For this card holder I use 2 tools that are not usually used together. The one is a laser cutter and engraver while the other is a Singer cast iron 1910 leather sewing machine. These machines were made more than 100 years apart. Both weigh a ton. I took one of them apart to clean thoroughly and added a bit of oil after reassembly. It is of course not necessary to have these machines to make a leather card holder.


I used goat leather that is approximately 1.8 mm thick. A small piece (32 x 15 cm) was cut and loaded into the laser.


The next step was to transfer the idea from the sketch to the computer (I used CorelDraw).


I final test print was made and showed to the client.


Three different engraving/cutting commands were sent to the laser. First the stitch pattern, where I should stitch (I am not very good at stitching in straight lines and this helps a lot). This is made as vector lines by the laser at very very low power. The stitches cover these lines. For the next one, I will only print these lines on one side and not on both.


Stitch lines

The second set of commands is engraving. Here the laser works like a printer by burning the images on the leather.


One line captured

The printing is immediately followed by the vector cutting of the leather to form all the pieces.



Inner leather pieces


Outer piece – slightly wet on the seam and left to dry folded over a stick

For the inner pockets (i.e. the pockets that ensure each card does not disappear into the leather abyss) I wanted to use silk. Silk is ideal in that it is very thin and do not ad much bulk to the card holder. I also found that it can be cut very easily with the laser.


A nice bonus is that the edges are sealed when cutting silk with a laser. This means that there there are no frayed edges and I did not need to add any seams.


No frayed edges


All the silk pieces

I used the ribbons of silk to make pockets for the cards that fit through the top 3 slots. I used contact glue to attach the silk to the leather. A strip was glued below the second slot.


Using a card I determined where the silk should be folded. The top part was glued the just below the third slot.


Determining where to the silk pocket

Again the silk was fold down to make the second pocket and the process repeated until all pockets was formed (for more details on how these pockets are made have a look a this video – this is how I got the idea).


All pockets done.

To contain the pockets I glued a piece of silk (only on the edges) over the pockets. Note that this piece is 2.5 mm smaller than the leather on each side. 20170423_113712

Then it was off to the sewing machine to stitch the silk to the leather on the one side (the other three sides were stitched to the outer leather piece later, see below).



Stitching of the inner side done on both parts – test fit of cards


Burning and sealing of the threads – also learned from YouTube


Beautiful stitches made by a machine from 1910

The inner and outer parts were glues together and I briefly clamped them on the corners.20170423_120254

Everything was then stitched together.


Although the edges are quite nice when cut with a laser I wanted to seal the two stitched edges together. I made a burnishing tool from a piece of wood and used it to burnish the edges with a bit of leather wax.


Home made burnishing tool – made from a maple stick and nail and using a rotary tool and sandpaper.


Edges before burnishing


Edges after burnishing – seam still visible but the overall look is much nicer

The last step was to add some leather wax. I used a brush to do this and after a few minutes I wiped off the excess using a cloth and polished the leather a bit.



Leather wax added to one side.

The whole process, took about 3 hours. This includes the hour of making and testing the designs in CorelDraw and getting the right settings for cutting silk in a laser.

I will make more of these in the future and probably take commissions for customized leather card holders – let me know if you are interested 😉

I will also try using dyes on the leather – but this will of course need to be very light to ensure engraved images are still visible.

Overall I am reasonably happy and so is Carina.


Completed card holder with silk lined inner pouches








Steampunk Wooden Raspberry Pi Laptop


For a while now I wanted to start using Raspberry Pi computers. I finally got one and, as many people do, started to thinking about housing this credit card sized computer. After a few months I had a fully functional Raspberry laptop in a stylish wooden case.



Since I do not need such a stylish laptop I will sell it. If you are interested: buy it here.

While many people liked the Raspberry laptop, there were quite a few that would prefer their own, more powerful, computers housed in a similar case. I thus made a few cases inspired by this project (images here or buy them here).

I will probably buy another Raspberry Pi for some or other project but house it in a simple cardboard box.

How I made it: 

As with many of the things I make, I have a idea of the final product in my head (or a extremely simple drawing with a few measurements – see below) but definitely not all the steps. During the building process I needed to make many changes and improvised a lot. In addition, many of the steps happened in parallel which helps to bring everything together at the end. The making of this laptop is shown in the series of videos and photos below. You can also click HERE to watch the full playlist on YouTube – but come back to read the interesting anecdotes and see more awesome pictures.

The making of this laptop started with a very simple drawing.


The main idea was to have all the components in one part of the case. The other side would open to show the screen and keyboard and also provide access to the compartment that house some cables and a mouse. The main problem was thus how to fit everything into the case. I also wanted a “nice box” and might have spent a bit too much time on the details. The 2 videos below show the making of the outer and inner part of the laptop case.

The top part quite thick relative to the bottom part, and if the laptop was not unique enough this would be a feature that would distinguish it from most other laptops.


Initial fitting of the screen and the large battery.


Most of the wooden components – pre assembly


Test fit of the internal components


Assembly of the outer case almost done

I liked the striped plywood sides and wanted to keep the same style with the latches. These parts took quite a bit of time to make (I could have used store bought latches and saved many hours). I am however happy with the design. Below is a video focusing only on how I made the latches.

I did mention that I wanted a “nice box” and a lot of small details were added to the case. Below is a video that show how these were made:


Logo added to the case – before lacquer


After lacquering

The whole case was finished with several coats of polyurethane lacquer.


Small parts were made and kept here until assembly


Closeup of the red feet

In addition to the feet I added a copper chain to stop the case from opening too far. I made a simple spool to retract the chain when opening and closing the case (can bee seen in part 2 of the video series). Below is a closeup of this device.


Simple chain retractor


The last part was the final assembly. At this stage everything was fitted several times and I mainly had to screw all the electronics in place one last time.


Everything in place


Finished Laptop Case



Problems and improvements. 

After the laptop was completed I found that it was a bit tricky to link the earphones every time. I thus added a small mobile speaker to the inside of the case (there was just enough room next to the Raspberry Pi). It might however have been easier to just add an extension cable that is accessible from the front compartment to plug the earphones into – but it is nice to have some internal sound.

When opening the laptop the feet and chain stop it from opening too far. The feet are however just too short and the bottom lid lifts slightly before it stops (longer feet would however look weird). This is not problematic as such but it almost seem that it will fall over when opening – but never does. I fixed this problem in the laptop cases that work on the same principle (here).

I think a smaller portable battery would be sufficient. I never run out of power and rarely need to recharge. This would allow the case to be quite a bit smaller.

I find that the mouse and keyboard has a bit of a lag with the Raspberry. I am not sure if this is just because I am used to directly connected peripherals and fast computers or if I am just a bit impatient.

I will probable not make another Raspberry Pi laptop. The problems are also small enough to not change the current look of the laptop.


More on the specifications of the Raspberry Pi 3 can be read here.

The screen is the official Raspberry Pi 7″ touch screen more information here.

The laptop will be sold with a Linocell Bluetooth keyboard (more information here) and a Plexgear wireless mouse (more information here). The mouse fits snugly in the front compartment.

It is powered by a EnerPlex battery pack inside the case (more information here). The battery is a Lithium Ion with a capacity of 10400mAh. The battery can be charged via a normal 5V USB (a cable is stored inside the back of the case).

A Streetz speaker is also included and sits neatly inside the back of the case ( more information here).

The speaker and keyboard can be charged with the internal battery and an a micro USB cable is also provided (and kept in the front compartment of the case).

Note, the links to the peripherals are from the companies where each item was purchased.

The size of the laptop is 33 x 26 x 7.5 cm

The laptop weighs 2.8 kg (all peripherals included).

As mentioned, I made some laptop cases inspired by this project. These house 13″ MacBook Pro laptops. Below are some images of these. More about them here or to see them in the shop here.