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).


Enter a caption

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.








I recently made a whirligig that also serve as a house sign. This is planted in our garden and I think the postman have no problem with finding our house.

The best way to experience the whirligig I made is to watch the gif below:


Whirligig in action

I always wanted to make automata but wanted them to be powered in some natural way. The idea to make a whirligig as house sign came from Jimmy Diresta who had a video where he made one from metal (here). I felt inspired and copied his idea but used wood as a medium rather than metal. The whole process of building mine can be seen here:

As with many of my projects I start with a plan that remains mostly in my head with only a few key measurements written down.  In this case it was partly because I had a clear image from Diresta’s video of what I want it to look like at the end. I also wanted it to be reasonable modular to be able to exchange/fix parts if required. The whole thing thus comes apart with only a few pieces glued in place permanently.

I started with the wind mill blades. I wanted cloth sails and made the hub and arms first using wood. After a quick test (using paper) I made some changes to the angle of the blades. I spent a few hours stitching the sails and assembled the wind mill part.


Cutting the hub


Blades of the windmill


Paper sails  for testing


Cloth sails being attached

The frame was made from wood left over after our deck was installed. I made a jig for finger joints and this is the first project where I used it. I am extremely impressed how easy it is to make and how nice it works and looks.


Simple finger joint jig


Kameel inspecting the frame


The frame

I drilled the holes to fit some PVC pipe for the axle to rotate in. The holes for the moving bars was also drilled and cut.


Holes with pvc glued inside

I decided to add some gears. I am not sure why I initially  wanted to do this. I am however extremely pleased with the gear reduction ratio since the wind in our area is quite strong and the speed of the windmill this high. The high wind-speed will not directly translate into direct fast rowing movement  (which would have looked a bit strange) but will be reduced 4 times. At the same time, the  gear setup does allow for weaker gusts to move the whole thing.


Cutting the gears on the band saw


Testing the gears

The main crankshaft was made from a maple branch. I cut it into discs of different sizes. The size of each disk relates to the placement of the numbers and boatman. I drilled these disks at various positions to offset the point of rotation and put the whole shaft together. Dowels were used to connect the various disks. The remaining discs were cut in half to be mounted when the arm and number was connected.


Main disks used in the crankshaft


Assembling the crankshaft


Testing the crankshaft and gears


Rods for numbers and boatman mounted

The numbers and tail fin and waves were cut on the scroll saw.


The fin

I was worried that the movement of the boatman would be tricky to get right. I thus made a prototype and found that it is actually straight forward. I replicated the boatman parts.


Boatman prototype


Stained gears, numbers and all the parts for the boatman


Boatman in action

After all the pieces was made some were stained. I coated all pieces with linseed oil and hope that it will help with protection against the elements. The whole whirligig was then assembled and tested.


All the parts except the windmill

The final step was to mount it. I found the center point of the whole assembly, drilled a hole and added some extra support. We went to the garden to find a spot that is reasonably open to the wind and visible from the road (since it is intended as a house sign).I planted a stake and drilled a hole in the top. The whole thing simply mounts on another dowel that fits into the stake and the bottom of the machine.


Planting the whirligig

Often my projects grow (in size and/or complexity) while I am in the process of building the parts (see also the dart board that I made). The whirligig was also one such project and has become more complex than it needed to be. I was a bit worried that this would be seen as a monstrosity whirling away in the front of our garden rather than a moving house sign. Currently, I think it looks fine.